Description from Flora of China
Balsamina hortensis Desportes (1816), not A. St.-Hilaire (1808).
Plants annual, 60-100 cm tall. Stem erect, robust, base ca. 8 mm in diam., succulent, simple or branched, glabrous or laxly pubescent when young, with many fibrous roots, lower nodes swollen. Leaves alternate, sometimes lowest ones opposite; petiole 1-3 cm, adaxially shallowly sulcate, both sides with few pairs of stipitate glands; leaf blade lanceolate, narrowly elliptic, or oblanceolate, 4-12 × 1.5-3 cm, with a pair of sessile black glands toward base, both surfaces glabrous or sparsely pubescent, lateral veins 4-7 pairs, base cuneate, margin deeply serrate, apex acuminate. Inflorescences 1-flowered, or 2 or 3 flowers fascicled in leaf axils, without peduncles. Pedicels 2-2.5 cm, densely pubescent, bracteate at base; bracts linear. Flowers white, pink, or purple, simple or double petalous. Lateral sepals 2, ovate or ovate-lanceolate, 2-3 mm. Lower sepal deeply navicular, 13-19 × 4-8 mm, pubescent, abruptly narrowed into an incurved spur; spur 1-2.5 cm, slender. Upper petal orbicular, apex retuse, mucronulate, abaxial midvein narrowly carinate; lateral united petals shortly clawed, 2.3-2.5 cm, 2-lobed; basal lobes obovate-oblong, small; distal lobes suborbicular, apically retuse; auricule narrow. Stamens 5; filaments linear; anthers ovoid, apex obtuse. Ovary fusiform, densely pubescent. Capsule broadly fusiform, 1-2 cm, densely tomentose, narrowed at both ends. Seeds many, black-brown, globose, 1.5-3 mm in diam., tuberculate. Fl. Jul-Oct. 2n = 14*.
The flowers and leaves are often used for coloring fingernails. The stem and seeds are used medicinally for promoting blood circulation and for relieving pain and sore throats.
A common ornamental plant, widely cultivated in gardens and houses throughout China [native to SE Asia; cultivated worldwide].