Balsams paint Dhofar purple

Salalah: Come September, Dhofar is awash in colours mostly purple.  Slopes of hills of Mughsayl facing the sea are decked with flowers in full bloom.

But there are the mountains like Aiteen and others which are blessed with floral abundance. And only in September do we get to this sight or in some years may be late August.

Apparently balsam flowers reseed themselves prolifically.

Some of the experts say balsam could have originated from SouthEast Asia. They are considered to be long-lasting blooms, which are a major attraction for butterflies.  But in Salalah they appear only during this season – right after the monsoon and are also a photographer’s delight.

The mystery is when did this species make their first appearance and why only one colour.  In other countries they would be in gardens but in Salalah they grow in the wild.

Balsam comes in different colours but in Salalah’s landscape it is just the purple variety.  As they multiply easily, to see all of them grow at the same time is a sight that is amazing.

Balsams have not disappointed this year also and have already made their appearance.

Capturing the spectacular sceneries unique to Salalah has been Salim al Rahbi an expert on wild plants of Oman.

“Yes, this year’s season is exceptionally beautiful!  I have not seen some of the species for many years.  Some of the flowers I have come across are Impatiens Balsamina, Gladiolus Candidus, Ocimum Obscura, Heliotropium Longflorum and one of the beautiful butterflies I came across was Plain Tiger (Danaus Chrysippus),” said Al Rahbi.

Asked why the flowers disappear for the rest of the year, Salim explained, “These plants bloom right after the rain stops as soon as they get the exposure of the sunlight.  They are there until the season changes”.

Salim regularly introduces his social media followers of his

Facebook page to the indigenous species of the Sultanate titled, ‘Encyclopedia of Omani Flowers.’

To the question, “Which is his favorite wildflower?” he replied, “Nature is my life.  Everything about nature is my favourite.  My relationship with nature is since childhood.  I am a simple villager from Ibra.  I like to share information so people can see and protect the beauty of nature.”

Balsams look delicate but are tough plants and can thrive under shades and in moist woods.  So the transition period between summer with monsoon and winter in Salalah is ideal.  The barks of the trees tend to be stark black after the constant drizzle of the monsoon and in contrast are the splash of colours from these dark green plants and light coloured stems with their purple flowers.

Their seed pods are an attraction too – just touch them and they will burst popping seeds everywhere.

In other parts of the world these flowers are also used by herbalists for the inflammation of the skin and even for snakebites.

And when the weather moves on the plants go too only to return next year.