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

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Ed McMackin     (Photo ID #89346)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Impatiens glandulifera
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend


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

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.


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
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in


Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Impatiens roylei Walp.

Taxonomic 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.