UPSC PRELIMS 2019 : Balsams of Eastern Himalayas

Balsams of Eastern Himalayas

Topic : Balsams of Eastern Himalayas

Topic in Syllabus: Ecology & Environment



Balsams of Eastern Himalayas

Between 2010 and 2019, botanists and taxonomists working on Impatiens, the scientists discovered 23 new species from the eastern Himalayas.



  • Prior to 2010, specimens of Impatiens that had potential of being identified as new species would be collected but the dried-up specimens looked identical to the species discovered earlier and their effort yielded no results.



  • Botanists and taxonomists discovered 23 new species of Impatiens from the eastern Himalayas — a group of plantscommonly known as Balsams or jewel-weeds.
  • It consisting of both annual and perennial herbs, balsams are succulent plants with high endemism. Because of theirbright beautiful flowers, these group of plants is of prized horticultural significance.
  • Of the 83 species described, 45 are from Arunachal Pradesh, 24 from Sikkim and 16 species common to both states.
  • Belonging to Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, these plants are highly sensitive to climatic conditions such as extremedrought and extended exposure to sunlight.


About Impatiens

  • Impatiens is a genus of more than 1,000 species of flowering plants, widely distributed throughout the NorthernHemisphere and the tropics.
  • Together with the genus Hydrocera (1 species), Impatiens make up the family Balsaminaceae.
  • Common names in North America include impatiens, jewelweed, touch-me-not, snapweed, and patience.
  • As a rule-of-thumb, “jewelweed” is used exclusively for Nearctic species, and balsam is usually applied to tropicalSpecies


Botanical Survey of India (BSI):

  • BSI is the apex research organization under Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEFCC) for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of country.
  • It was established in 1890 with objective to explore plant resources of country and to identify plants species with economic virtues.
  • It has nine regional circles situated at different regions of the country.


Sample Question:

Consider the following statements.

  1. Balsam species are commonly known as Jewel Weeds.
  2. The genus name ‘Impatiens’ signifies the impatient nature of the fruits which explode when touched.
  3. They are distributed only in Eastern Himalayas.

Which of the above statements is/are correct?

a). 1 and 2 only

b). 2 and 3 only

c). 3 only

d). 1, 2 and 3


Answer:. a

Balsam species are distributed throughout Western Ghats, Eastern Himalayas, Sri Lanka, South East Asia, Africa and Madagascar.