E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Impatiens glandulifera Royle
policeman's helmet (ornamental jewelweed)
Balsaminaceae (Touch-me-not family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Ed McMackin  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #89346)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Impatiens glandulifera
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Policeman's helmet is an introduced summer annual that is native to the Himalayas, but has spread around the world since seeds were first sent from the Himalayas to KEW gardens in England in 1839. In North America it is found in the USA, primarily along the Pacific Coast and in the New England States (CA, CT, ID, MA, ME, MI, MT, NY, OR, VT, WA) and in Canada it is found in eight provinces (BC, MB, NB, NF, NS, ON, PE, QC) (USDA 2010). In British Columbia, it is found primarily in the southern part of the province, around Victoria, in the Fraser Valley, and in southeastern BC

Policeman's helmet is an easily identified species of Impatiens, 0.6 to 2.0 m in height, which produces distinctive white to pink, purple-spotted flowers with short recurved spurs. Flowering occurs from July to September. It can form thick homogeneous stands in moist shady spots along creeks, riverbanks and sloughs and in open sunny ditches. It produces abundant seed in seed capsules that explode when ripe allowing near dispersal and thick growth. The earliest collection record for this species in the UBC Herbarium is 1937, when it was collected at Still Creek, BC by John Eastman.

"[Policeman's helmet's] high reproductive rate, early germination, propensity for establishing thick stands, rich nectar production, hardiness, and habitat tolerance and plasticity have allowed it to spread rapidly, dominate landscapes, and compete with and displace native plant species." (Global Invasives Database 2010).

Species Information

Click on the image below to view an expanded illustration for this species.

Annual succulent herb; stems erect to ascending, often branched, glabrous, often purplished-tinged, 0.6-2.0 m tall.
Opposite to whorled (at least some of them), stalked, egg-shaped to elliptic, sharply and closely saw-toothed, 6-15 cm long.
One to several in leaf axils, whitish to red, usually purplish-spotted; sepals pouched, with a short recurved spur.
Capsules, elastically dehiscent, 1.5-2.5 cm long, many-seeded.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic streambanks, meadows, roadsides and waste places in the lowland and steppe zones; infrequent in the lower Fraser Valley and extreme SC BC; introduced from Asia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Additional Notes

A combination of factors including a high reproductive rate, aggressive seed dispersal, early germination, and high nectar production which attracts pollinators allows this species to out-compete and displace native species. It is very attractive to pollinators (Bartomeus et al. 2010). For further information about control of this species, visit the Great Vancouver Invasive Plant Council web site.


Bartomeus, Ignasi, Montserrat VilĂ  and Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter. 2010. Combined effects of Impatiens glandulifera invasion and landscape structure on native plant pollination. Journal of Ecology 98 (2): 440 - 450.


Ecological Framework for Impatiens glandulifera

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 1204 1204 1204
Slope Gradient (%) 1 1 1
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
312 312 312
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
8 8 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: SBS(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Impatiens roylei Walp.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References