Annual succulent herb 0.3 - 0.8 m tall Stem: unbranched, translucent, light green to yellowish, hollow, succulent, and somewhat hairy. Leaves: alternate, sharply-toothed, more than three times longer than wide (6 - 15 cm long), widest above the middle, with a long pointed tip, and gradually tapering to a very short, glandular stalk. Flowers: 2 - 2.5 cm long, purple or pinkish rose (possibly almost white), bilaterally symmetric, spurred, and hanging singly or in pairs from the leaf axils on slender, 1 - 2 cm long, drooping flower stalks. Sepals: three, pinkish, petal-like. The upper two are small, and the lower one is showy, petal-like, and highly modified at its base into a wide, but short sac with a long, narrowed, hairy spur. Petals: five, but irregularly shaped so appearing as three, with a short, wide upper lobe, and the four lower petals fused in pairs to make two, lobed, lateral petals. Stamens: five, but fused above to form a "cap" over the pistil. Pistil: with a five-chambered, superior ovary. Fruit: a softly-hairy, explosively dehiscent, five-valved capsule, which is plump around the middle, narrowed at both ends, and less than 2 cm long.
Similar species: Impatiens balsamina is quite different from our two native species, I. capensis and I. pallida, since both those species are larger, hairless, and have branched stems, longer stalked leaves with roundish teeth, yellow or orange flowers, and slender, hairless fruit.
Flowering: July to September
Habitat and ecology: Introduced from south Asia, and only occasionally escaping from cultivation.
Annual, 3-8 dm, ±pubescent; lvs oblanceolate, 6-15 cm, sharply serrate, gradually tapering to the short petiole; pedicels 1 or 2 in an axil, 1-2 cm, 1-fld; fls purple or rose, varying to white, the pet 2-2.5 cm, the saccate sep wider than long and shorter than the spur; fr villous; 2n=14. Native of s. Asia, widely naturalized in the tropics, and occasionally escaped from cult. in our range.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.