Has anyone identified the compound(s) that make up the distinctive and intense scent of Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)?

I’ve found a number of compounds associated with Impatiens sp., but it does not look like any of them would be carriers of the scent:

  • 2-Methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone or "lawsone methyl ether" [an anti-inflammatory, fungicidal agent]
  • 2-Hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone (Lawsone) [a dye that is also the principal component of Henna]
  • Methylene-3,3'-bilawsone (Diphthiocol; 3-[bis(2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinonyl)]methane)
  • α-Parinaric acid [a polyunsaturated fatty acid]

Neither the naphthoquinones nor the fatty acid are described as having any particular scent, and they are apparently all non-volatile solids, which would rule them out.

I was unable to find any more information online, but maybe someone who is more involved with this kind of research has some pointers. Thank you!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I was just pointed to this very recent research effort by two (very) young chemists to extract an oil from flowers of I. glandulifera and identify its constituents (in German): jugend-forscht.de/projektdatenbank/2016/1/… I’ll see if I can contact them. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 15, 2016 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ Nothing yet; but apparently they identified Lidocaine in the flower oil, which is bizarre, as it’s not known to occur naturally, but that doesn’t help with the answer, as Lidocaine is definitely not the source of the scent either :) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


There's seemingly a lot published on the invasion dynamics of Impatiens glandulifera, but little on the scent-giving volatile compounds.

All I could find is a poster from a 2010 symposium on Terpenes - Application, Activity and Analysis, organized by the Phytochemical Society of Europe (PSE).

The authors presented a method to sample volatile compounds from the flowers of the neophytic Impatiens glandulifera and the native Impatiens noli-tangere without cutting them off the plant and analyzed the mixture of compounds by GC-MS.

The scents seem to stem from complex mixtures of monoterpenes.

In the flowers of both plants the following terpenes could be detected:

Only in Impatiens noli-tangere were found

Only in Impatiens glandulifera was found

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    $\begingroup$ Great info, that was what I was looking for; thank you! $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 4, 2016 at 12:18

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