Sunday, 26 August 2012

Flower Quiz - Impatiens glandulifera - Himalayan Balsam - Policeman's Helmet

courtesy wikipedia
The Impatiens glandulifera, as its common name implies, was introduced from the Himalayas in the first half of the 19th century. It is a member of the Impatiens family - Busy Lizzie - but has now become a very invasive species of weed in several European countries and the United States.
It was promoted back in the 19th century as having 'Herculean proportions' and 'splendid invasiveness' meaning that ordinary people could buy them for the cost of a packet of seeds (poor man's orchid) to rival the expensive orchids grown in the greenhouses of the rich. Within 10 years, however, it had escaped from gardens and began its journey along the river systems of many countries.
Every single plant is prettily covered in a mass of pink flowers which in turn produce fat healthy seed pods, every plant yields a harvest of approximately 800 - 1000 seeds. These are dispersed far and wide as the ripe seedpods shoot them off just like a catapult up to 7m (22ft) away. Once the seeds land in the rivers and ditches they can remain viable for two years, and are transported further by water.
Ripe seedpod 
ready for me to press and activate
The shinny hard black seeds were held on the central column - about 12 of them. The seeds are a good size, hard, strong, robust and are now scattered all over my kitchen!!! Time to get the vacuum cleaner out. However, you have to admire the ingenuity of nature - the seed pod is a very clever design. It took the lightest of pressure for me to activate the catapult mechanism.
You can see all of the seed pods developing on this small stem. However, these are just about to meet their doom. They will be well and truly munched and crunched before they are disposed of safely.
Marijke Gina & Sarah all got the correct answer. They all know their flowers very well, do give their lovely blogs a visit.

20 comments:

  1. I should have guessed that one — impatiens grows very well in Florida, though I don't believe that what I see in my neighborhood beds is the invasive species you describe.

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    1. Yours will be the busy lizzie variety Mark, usually very brightly coloured bedding plants, no problem with them at all. These are giants in comparison and stand at least 150cms high. They are lovely but a nightmare!!!

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  2. When I was a child I was always surching for the seedpots of this plant. I never forget how exciting it was to see the seeds jump away. Beautiful post and photo's Rosemary.
    Have a great week.

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    1. Same here Marijke - little did we know that we were helping them to spread. They were more containable when they were growing on waste land, but now that they are in so many rivers and ditches they are a really big problem. Well done on recognising it. Thank you for your lovely comments and glad you liked the post.

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  3. Well done Marijke, sarah and Gina,
    Always fun Rosemary,
    You know i am hopeless with flower's and their names.. but i like the challenge you give us.
    val

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    1. I am happy that you give it a shot Val and join in the fun, and I think that your flower knowledge is definitely improving.

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  4. Never heard of it, never seen it, guess that's not such a bad thing then.... ;-)
    Bye,
    Marian

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    1. At least you will now know it, Marian if you do encounter it.

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    2. Your reply then makes me laugh now Rosemary. I didn't recognize it after all. Thank you very much for pointing me into the right direction!
      Marian

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    3. Next time Marian I suspect that you will♥

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  5. Hello Rosemary

    I have learned from this and I will be on the lookout for this bold plant. The system of spreading it's seeds I find fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

    Helen xx

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    1. Hello Helen - yes, if you do meet it, especially in your garden, destroy immediately, or be prepared for a forest of them.

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  6. Your posts are always fascinating, Rosemary. I really had no idea about this plant and am now also grateful that it doesn't grow in my area. 1000 seeds? Oh my!

    Have a great week ahead.

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    1. Hello Georgianna - so pleased that you found the post about this plant fascinating. It is really a very successful plant helped along by its wonderfully designed seedpods.

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  7. Well done to Marijke, Gina and Sarah, very well identified.
    Although I have heard of Himalayan Balsam I didn't know much about them and I've never actually seen one.
    I did try planting another very pretty variegated Impatiens some years ago which spread throughout one of the beds very quickly before I eventually eradicated it.
    Your photographs and kitchen demo were great fun Rosemary, natures designs continue to amaze me.
    Paul

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    1. If you do ever encounter it in your garden, eliminate it immediately. Mainly you see it in the wild, growing in clouds of pink along ditches and along riverbanks, it is a very attractive plant. As a child I used to love to press the seedpods and watch them spring into action, the mechanism works so quickly and vigorously that it takes you by surprise. However, I would not dream of doing that now that I know what a demon it is.

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  8. Hi, Rosemary -
    I missed part 1 of this post. But I would not have been able to identify it anyhow :) It's always so fun when you have a pop quiz.....except I always fail, haha.
    Have a great week ~
    Loi

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    1. Next time Loi perhaps I should do a white flower quiz and I am sure you would probably get it right!!!

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  9. Very smart plant indeed, making itself all pretty and pink to attract us. I'm pretty sure in the close up picture in your previous post I could hear it roar :)

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    1. There is no doubt that it is a very pretty plant, and I can well imagine how much the Victorians liked it. I love what you say about it roaring, you are right it does.

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