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Policeman's helmet

Policeman's helmet
(Impatiens glandulifera)

Herbaceous annual with hollow stems and swollen nodes, growing up to 8-10 feet tall. Pink-purple flowers and explosive seed pods similar to other jewelweeds or "touch-me-nots."

Overview

Regulated areas of Policeman's helmet
This species is Prohibited (Red counties)

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: Ornamental jewelweed, Himalayan balsam, jewelhead, Royale ornamental, Indian balsam
  • Scientific names: Impatiens roylei

Ecological threat:

  • Invades rich forests, riparian areas, open grasslands, meadows, lake edges, and disturbed areas such as ditches and field edges.
  • Can produce up to 800 seeds per plant, which have long viability and high germination rates. Seeds can even germinate under water.
  • Forms dense colonies that outcompete native herbaceous plants and reduce overall forest regeneration.
  • Seeds are easily spread by ejection of mature pods as well as by human activity.
  • Widespread invasive alien plant throughout Europe

Classification in Wisconsin: Prohibited

Species Assessment Groups (SAG) were assembled to recommend a legal classification for each species considered for NR 40. The recommendation for policeman's helmet was based upon this literature review developed by the department.

Identification

Leaves & stems: Fleshy, smooth, hollow stems with a reddish color. Stems are multi-branching with distinct swollen nodes. Leaves are large, simple, and toothed, with a pointed tip. Leaves are arranged opposite or are often whorled in groups of three.

Flowers: Flowers resemble an English policeman's helmet, giving this plant its common name. Flowers are spurred, five parted, and pink to white to purple in color. Flowers arise from the leaf axils.

Fruits & seeds: Seeds eject from mature seedpods when touched. Seeds are viable in the soil for 12-18 months.

Roots: Fairly shallow, fleshy roots.

Similar species: Policeman's helmet could be mistaken for other members of the genus Impatiens. This species pinkish-purple flowers, swollen nodes and serrated leaves distinguish it from two native Wisconsin jewelweed species (Impatiens capensis, Impatiens pallida).

Distribution

Impatiens_glandulifera
Counties in WI where Policeman's helmet has been reported (as of April 2013). Both vouchered and unvouchered reports included.

Do you have Policeman's helmet in your county but it isn't shaded on the map? Send us a report

Control

Mechanical:

  • The best way to reduce its spread is by inhibiting seed production.
  • Cutting, mowing, or weed-whipping are very effective controls and reduce disturbance compared to hand pulling. Cut as close to the ground as possible. Repeated treatments may be needed, as plants can regenerate from cut stems and small regrowths can flower and produce seeds. Cutting/mowing during flowering stage will reduce this.
  • Bag and dispose of all plant debris in flower.

Chemical:

  • Herbicides should only be used if mechanical control techniques are not feasible.
  • Herbicides should be applied before flowering.
  • Glyphosate, 2,4D or triclopyr may effectively control this plant.

Photos

View Policeman's helmet pictures in our photo gallery!

Resources

Sources for content:

  • Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network -(GRIN)[Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory; Beltsville, Maryland.
  • Helmisaari, H. (2010): NOBANIS – Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet – Impatiens glandulifera. – From: Online Database of the European Network on Invasive Alien Species – NOBANIS

Links for More Information

Last revised: Monday June 03 2019