Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Impatiens walleriana Hook.f.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Habit, leaves and flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Hooker, J.D. (1868) Flora of Tropical Africa 1: 302. Type: Mozamb. Distr. Moramballa, 2000 ft., on stones in streams (Dec.), Dr. Kirk! and Mr. H. Waller!.

Common name

Balsam; Busy Lizzie


Flowers and fruits as of a shrub but often flowers when smaller.


Leaf blades elliptic to ovate, about 5.5-8 x 2.5-3 cm, petioles about 0.1-0.2 cm long with glands along the edge. Lateral veins about 5-8 on each side of the midrib. Margins with about 12-15 teeth or glands on each side of the leaf blade.


Inflorescence a 2-flowered umbel. Flowers about 4 cm diam., pedicels about 2 cm long. Calyx irregular, lateral sepals about 4 mm long, lower sepal large, about 15 mm long with a long slender spur about 3.5 cm long attached to the base. Petals adhering to each other basally. Stamens fused in a hood above the ovary. Pollen pink to purple. Style absent. Stigmas sessile.


Fruits about 20-27 x 9-12 mm. Splitting explosively along one suture when ripe, throwing seeds for distances up to 1 m. Seeds about 2.5-3 mm long. Testa clothed in numerous short fleshy hairs. Embryo about 2.2-1.5 mm, radicle shorter and narrower than the cotyledons.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species originally from southern Africa now naturalised in NEQ, south-eastern Queensland and the Sydney district of New South Wales. Altitudinal range in NEQ from 200-800 m. Grows in disturbed rain forest but also found on the margins of rain forest and along the creeks.

Natural History & Notes

Commonly cultivated as a garden plant with numerous colour forms.

It seeds prolifically and has escaped in numerous areas.

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