Content of the article:
The genus Impatiens, which can be translated as “untouchable” or “touchy”, is the basis of the Balsamic family and consists of half a thousand species growing throughout the planet.
Due to the prevalence and diversity of plants, it is impossible to indicate the exact place on the map worthy of being called the homeland of balsam plants. They are found throughout the world in temperate and tropical areas, but there are several main species concentration centers. This is, above all, Asia and the countries of Africa, North America and Europe.
History of the discovery and study of balsamines
Acquaintance of nerds with touch-ups began in the XVII century. The first information about plants of this genus is from 1689 and contains descriptions of some varieties of balsam from India and nearby regions of Asia. Then Carl Linney took up the study of plants, he is obliged to flower growers to the fullest description and systematization of numerous species. But the greatest number of discoveries in the world of balsamine scientists awaited in the XIX century, when they began to actively explore remote corners and countries. One of the latest additions was the group of New Zealand plants, registered in 1989.
The most famous species in our country is the Waller balsam in the wild, which grows off the east coast of Africa in the Zanzibar archipelago.
It was here that new botanist plants were discovered in 1861.Several copies, originally named in honor of the local ruler, the British naturalist John Kirk ferried to Europe. Here, they also appreciated the attentiveness of the English missionary Horace Waller, who for the first time noticed the unknown plant, and his find. And the African impatiens in 1896 received the name Impatiens walleriana.
The plant is loved by residents of many countries. Today, the continuously blossoming room balsam in the West is often called Busy Lizzie, while in Russia culture is called the sparkle Vanka Mokrym. Such an unusual, even familiar name is due to the peculiarity of the plant, which forms small droplets of sweet liquid on the leaves, which eventually turns into solid sugar balls.
Among the garden balsams, in the photo, Impatiens balsamina stands out - a small but very attractive native of South Asia, adorning the flowerbeds and borders in many areas of Russia.
In the 20th century, flower growers were able to meet a large group of hybrids from New Guinea. Now these exotic plants are available for collectors and lovers of indoor crops, and some species in the middle latitudes felt so comfortable that they became real weeds, displacing native species from their usual places.
This fully applies to Himalayan balsam, which a hundred years ago was found only in its homeland.
What does a balsam look like?
Among the footholds or, as they are used to be called in Russia, there are wild, garden and home cultures for balsams. Annual plants in the middle zone are grown as garden balsams, and indoor varieties are crops whose vegetation lasts for several years.
Thanks to the active breeding work begun in the middle of the last century and the popularization of unpretentious, willingly flowering species, the balsams occupied a worthy place in the collections of flower growers.
At the same time, they are so different from each other in the shape and color of flowers, in size and habitat, that representatives of different species can hardly be suspected of belonging to the same genus. Among the balsamines there are:
- herbaceous annuals and perennial varieties that look like small trees or semi-shrubs;
- dwarfs no more than 20 cm and giants of 2 meters height;
- is cold-resistant and accustomed to living only in warm tropical climates.
Therefore, the answer to the question: “What do balsams look like?” Cannot be simple and monosyllabic.
But with a lot of differences, balsamines from different directions of the world have a lot in common. The pussies of the plant are called due to the characteristic features of many varieties. The slightest touch to the juicy fruit-box causes its instant disclosure, and the contents with great force flies to a distance of several meters.
In the plant world, balsams are considered to be peculiar champions in the variety of shapes and colors of corolla.
Flowers of indoor balsam and its garden counterparts can be simple and double, monochromatic and two-colored, with a bright contrast center or a scattering of spots on the petals.
The average diameter of a balsam flower is 2–4 cm, but there are also plants that delight the owners and larger halos of bright colors. A characteristic feature of a balsam flower is a thin curved spur, but the shape and size of the petals can be different:
- At the Waller room balsam, the corollas are flattened, and their petals are almost the same.
- In other species, because of the shortened asymmetrical petals, the flowers are more like violets or snapdragons.
This diversity is associated with different plant conditions and the insects involved in pollination.
Features of Balsamine Plants
The vast majority of indoor and garden balsams like shade, there are few exceptions to this rule. First of all, these are plants from New Guinea and, for example, wild-growing balsam glandulifera. But the moisture is vital to all the funkies, but moisture-loving species have to protect the flowers and leaves from excess water.
Smooth lanceolate leaves of balsamines are not distinguished by a wealth of forms, but can have both monophonic and variegated color. Interestingly, thanks to a special coating, the surface of the leaf plate drops drop from it, and the sheet remains dry even in heavy rain. The bottom side is protected from wetting and rotting by the mass of the smallest air bubbles lingering between the fibers.
The flowers of the dew and the rain become elongated as the stem of the halo opens. As a result, the flower of a garden balsam, as in the photo, is tilted, and water flows cannot wash off the ripened pollen.