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Impatiens balsamina


Impatiens balsamina L.

Family Name: Balsaminaceae
Synonyms: Balsamina balsamina (L.) Huth, Balsamina hortensis Desp., Impatiens balsamina var. vulgaris Wight & Arn.
Common Name: Garden Balsam, Rose Balsam, Touch-Me-Not, Spotted Snapweed, 凤仙花, 指甲花

Impatiens balsamina or Garden Balsam is a annual herb that reaches to 1 m in height. Garden Balsam have elliptic to lance-shaped leaves with serrated margins and showy flowers that come in many colours; pink, red, purple. The genus, Impatiens is the latin word for impatient, referring to the explosive release of seeds from the fruit pod. They are easy to grow, tolerant of short periods of drought and with proper light, fertile well drained soil, the Garden Balsam thrives well in any gardens.


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names
Species Summary

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Annual, Semi-Annual / Annual-Like
Plant Shape Shrubby, Open
Maximum Height 1 m
Maximum Plant Spread / Crown Width 0.5 m


Native Distribution Sri Lanka & India
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Non-native

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a sparsely-branched annual herbaceous plant and grows about 0.3 to 1 m tall. The plant produce tap root with numerous fibrous lateral roots.
Foliage Its leaves are alternately arranged along the succulent stems, lanceolate-elliptic and have serrate margins. The leaves are about 4 to 12 cm long and 1.5 to 3 cm wide.
Flowers Its flowers are  showy and come in many colors (eg. red, pink, purple), produced in stalkless clusters in leaf axils. The spurs are incurved and about 1 to 2.5 cm long.
Fruits Fruits are fuzzy capsules, green turning to brown when mature, and split open easily to scatter small seeds. 
Habitat It occurs as naturalised in rock outcrops in shaded areas within the Atlantic rainforest domain. It has also been naturalized in many countries around the world, appearing mostly in disturbed areas.
Cultivation It grow well in evenly moist, organically rich, well-drained soils, tolerates dry and short periods of drought.
Etymology The genus, impatiens is the latin word, impatient in references to the explosive release of seeds from the fruit pods.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Fruit & Vegetable : Leaves and young shoots cooked and eaten as vegetable. Seeds edible raw or cooked. ;Herb and Spice)
Medicinal ( The plant is used to treat pains in the joints. Leaf juice applied to warts. Mucilaginous flowers have cooling, antifungal and antibacterial properties, used to treat burns, scalds and snakebites. Powdered seeds given to women during labour to provide strength.)
Cultural / Religious ( A dye can be obtained from flowers and leaves, used for dyeing fingernails and toenails. )

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Easy to Grow, Moist Soils
Landscape Uses Container Planting, Flowerbed / Border, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens
Thematic Landscaping Wildflower Garden
SGMP Treatment

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee), Insects (Butterfly, Moth))
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Explosive Dehiscence, Gravity)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun, Semi-Shade
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Thin
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Lanceolate, Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Serrate / Toothed
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Cuneate
Typical Foliar Area Notophyll ( 20.25cm2 - 45 cm2 )

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Herbaceous
Root Type Underground (Tap Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink, Purple, Red, White, Orange
Flower Grouping Solitary
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Asymmetrical
Individual Flower Shape Bowl-shaped
Flowering Period Free-Flowering
Flowering Habit Monocarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule
Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown, Black


References Hassemer, G. & Santos, A.P.d (2017), New records of naturalised Impatiens (Balsaminaceae) in Brazil. Magistra, 29(1), pp. 98-105. Cruz das Almas, Brazil.

Missouri Botanical Garden (continuously updated), Helianthus annuus - Plant Finder. Accessed 13 January 2022.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (continuously updated). Plants of the World Online | Kew Science. Accessed 13 January 2022.

Image Repository



Master ID 826
Species ID 2121
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 30 May 2023.