Balsam, in botany, a class of plants forming the genus impatiens, of the natural order ge-raniacem. It has 135 species, most of which are natives of the East Indies and China, but some have long been known in European gardens. The generic characteristics of the balsams are a succulent stem filled with a watery juice, simple leaves growing without stipules, irregular flowers with one of the petals spurred, five stamens, distinct stigmas, and a capsule with five valves, and remarkable for the elastic force with which it bursts and expels the seeds.

Garden Balsam.

Garden Balsam.

The I. hortensis, balsamine, or garden balsam, a beautiful and popular annual, sometimes improperly called lady's slipper, with finely variegated white, pink red, purple, and lilac flowers, is the best known member of this genus. This loves a moist rich soil, and is raised best from the seed in a moderate hot-bed. The juice of some of the species of impatient, mixed with alum, is used by the Japanese to dye their finger nails red.