Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Himalayan Balsam, Indian Balsam, Policeman's Helmet, Ornamental Jewelweed
Impatiens glandulifera

Family: Balsaminaceae
Genus: Impatiens (im-PAY-shuns) (Info)
Species: glandulifera (glan-doo-LEE-fer-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Impatiens roylei

14 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 43 photos.
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3 positives
1 neutral
5 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative coriaceous On Jan 6, 2013, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is a noxious weed in the garden and a threat to natural areas over a wide range of climates. I'm still pulling plants from a dry shade area many years after it was introduced---clearly the seeds remain viable in the soil for at least several years.

In the wet soils it prefers, this can get 10' tall. In dry soils, it can self-sow at only 1'.

Due to the threat it presents to the environment, it is illegal to sell, transport, or plant this species in Massachusetts and three other states.

Negative Brownthumbgardener On Jul 29, 2012, Brownthumbgardener from Eureka, CA wrote:

This plant has completely taken over our garden in Northern California. The flowers are pretty, but we are having a terrible time getting rid of it.

Positive Trish_in_AK On Jul 14, 2011, Trish_in_AK from Fairbanks, AK wrote:

My husband and I moved into an older home in downtown Fairbanks in early May. Neighbors told us we'd be suprised by the variety of plants and flowers that grace the yard. We had be walking all over what we supposed was unplanted soil...then what appeard to ME to be weeds sprung up. Advised not to pull anything until we were sure, we let this plant grow and Grow and GROW. It is now well over 6 feet tall, and the stalks as big around as my ankles! It has stayed pretty well contained to that one flower bed, but has spread a bit to others. We are facinated by the quickness of growth, and the height reached. We'll keep it for now.

Negative RosemaryA On Jul 25, 2009, RosemaryA from Toronto, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

According to the Global Invasive Species Database, this plant is very invasive in North America and Europe and difficult to eradicate.

Please show some consideration for your neighbours and the environment and don't grow this plant. Yes, it is very pretty, but wherever you live there are many other pretty plants to choose from that are not invasive.

Negative mbd405 On May 30, 2008, mbd405 from Lexington, KY wrote:

A neighbor in Essex County, (northern) New York planted a sample of Himalayan Balsam last year as part of a study of Impatiens. By May this year her vegetable and flower beds were dotted with small and growing plants of the species, and she has a major job of ridding herself of them. Plus there is a danger that the plant will spread to nearby wild lands. One plant can produce up to 800 or more seeds and they may remain viable for more than a year. Impatiens glandulifera is thus highly invasive. In England, where it was introduced decades ago, it has spread widely and thickly and is regarded as one of the top invasives. Don't help it to achieve this position on US lists of problem species

Positive beaverriver On Jul 20, 2004, beaverriver from Lowville, NY wrote:

I was given seeds about 20 years ago. When they grew, I transplanted plants to Beaver River Station, North end of Herkimer County, N. Y., I have had them there since then, propagating freely. I now have one in Lowville, Lewis county, NY, from a wandering seed brought here in a hanging pot. I have never been able to identify them until now. I will be giving plants to friends here, from the large field at Beaver River. They also attract wild deer, they eat the flowers. I get constant comments of delight, through the years many have taken seeds for themselves. The only adverse thing, I had pulled up dozens of seed popping plants and developed hives. They didn't last but I was more careful later years.

Negative KCnoxiousweeds On Jun 28, 2004, KCnoxiousweeds from Seattle, WA wrote:

This Plant is a listed noxious weed and is illegal to sell or to grow in Washington State. In King County, western WA there are over 100 known sites were it has invaded streams and wetlands and out competes native vegetation. It also lures pollinators away from smaller less showy native flowers, resulting in a smaller seed set of native plants.

Positive marje624 On Aug 27, 2003, marje624 from Rensselaer, NY wrote:

It was a sad occasion, a wake for a child of a great friend, but I was inspired by the garden surrounding the funeral home. One plant really caught my eye. I had never seen this plant before. I was not in any mood to inquire that evening, but the image of the plant remained with me, and finally I called the funeral home. I was almost embarrassed to ask, but as it turns out, I am not the first who has called.

They were very nice to me and supplied the name and said I could get seeds this fall or come back in the spring for newly growing plants. Anyway, weed or not, this 'policeman's helmet' will be cultivated in my yard next spring. Like the sunflower and other tall flowers it will give me a screen from the road surface and a pleasant site for those who walk by. Seed source is in Greenville, NY.

Neutral Baa On Oct 9, 2001, Baa wrote:

A large invasive annual from the Himalayas.

Has, lance shaped, toothed mid green leaves and thick red stems. Bears light pink, white or purple, hooded, scented flowers. Produces many capsules which spring open when ripe and spreads the seeds far and wide.

Flowers June-October Has managed to colonise a lot of watersides and is not recommended to grow where it isn't present in the local area.

Likes a moist, well drained soil in partial shade but will tolerate some sun.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Sitka, Alaska
Alameda, California
Albany, California
Eureka, California
San Leandro, California
La Grange, Kentucky
Brookeville, Maryland
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
Averill Park, New York
Elizabethtown, New York
North Tonawanda, New York
Rensselaer, New York
Sainte-geneviève, Quebec
Bellingham, Washington
Seattle, Washington

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