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Plant Description


Impatiens capensis Meerb.

En: spotted touch-me-not, spotted jewelweed, orange touch-me-not
Fr: impatiente du Cap, balsamine du Cap, impatiente biflore
Oj: ozaawashkojiibik

Balsaminaceae (Touch-me-not Family)

Click on thumbnail to see larger image.
Impatiens capensishab Impatiens capensisflpl Impatiens capensislvs Impatiens capensisflw Impatiens capensisfrt Impatiens capensisill


General: A tall, branched annual, 5–15 dm tall. Stems succulent, smooth (glabrous), often covered with a whitish bloom (glaucous). The sap of jewelweed stems is believed to relieve the itch of poison ivy and insect bites.

Leaves: Alternate, simple, pinnately-veined, thin, smooth (glabrous), petiolate. Leaf blades elliptic to ovate, 3–10 cm long; upper surface green, lower surface paler and often glaucous; the base tapering (cuneate) to rounded; apex blunt to pointed (obtuse to acute); margins irregularly toothed with sharp to rounded teeth, each ending in a short, abrupt pointed (mucronate) tip.

Flowers: Bisexual, orange, spotted with dark red dots, arranged in a loose, few-flowered raceme; flower stalks (pedicels) 2–3 cm long. Sepals 3, the upper 2 sepals small, ovate, pale; the third sepal enlarged, petal-like, and sac-shaped (saccate), with one end open, the other end tapering to a narrow, nectar-bearing spur that curves forward and under, toward the opening of the spurred sepal; petals apparently 3, but the 2 lateral petals each formed by the fusion of 2 petals; stamens 5, with the anthers touching but not fused (connivent) around the stigma of the single pistil; the ovary superior. Flowers bloom in mid to late summer.

Fruit: A narrow, club-shaped (clavate) capsule, to 2 cm long, smooth, splitting explosively along 5 lines to release its seeds.

Habitat and Range: Moist woods, stream and riverbanks. Impatiens capensis is native to north-temperate and boreal North America. In Ontario, jewelweed occurs north to James Bay.

Internet Images: The Impatiens capensis webpage from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.

Similar Species: The pale touch-me-not, Impatiens pallida, is similar to jewelweed, but its flowers are solid yellow and the larger leaves have more regularly toothed (serrate) margins. Compare the Impatiens pallida webpage from the Gallery of Connecticut Wildflowers, a website of the Connecticut Botanical Society.

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