Impatiens capensis (Spotted Touch-me-not)

Plant Info
Also known as: Jewelweed
Genus:Impatiens
Family:Balsaminaceae (Touch-me-not)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:native
Habitat:shade, sun; moist thickets, along shores
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:2 to 5 feet
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Flower shape: tubular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Groups of 1 to 3 flowers are in racemes on branching stems in the upper part of the plant. Flowers are about 1 inch long and ½ to ¾ inch wide, tube or funnel shaped with a long narrow spur at the back the curls back under the tube. Nectar is stored in the spur. There are 2 round broad lower lobes and a much smaller upper lobe. Color is quite variable, but typically orange with a varying amount of red spots on the inside of the flower, or sometimes spots are absent altogether.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are 1 to 3 inches long, up to 1½ inches wide, hairless, generally oval to egg-shaped, with widely spaced teeth around the edges and stalks up to about 1 inch long. Attachment is alternate. Stems are heavily branched, usually light green and can be transluscent, or nearly so.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit - hanging and expelled] Fruit is a thin pod about 1 inch long that pops open at the slightest touch, throwing seeds in all directions, hence the name “touch me not”.

Notes:

Spotted Touch-me-not and Pale Touch-me-not (Impatiens pallida) are similar species, but the latter is overall a larger plant with noticeably larger, yellow flowers, the spur on its flower is much shorter, and has fewer flowers per plant. When I first came upon a Spotted Touch-me-not that didn't have spots I thought it might be Pale Touch-me-not, but that was not the case. Once you see both plants you can immediately see the difference in the flower size. Impatiens are important nectar plants for hummingbirds and the stems also contain a juice that can relieve the sting from Poison Ivy or Stinging Nettle.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Anoka and Hennepin counties.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: virginia
on: 2008-09-18 21:49:16

thank you for your wonderful website! i found the Impatiens capensis while on a hike by the marshes on the snail lake trails. i thought it may be an orchid, because of the shape of the flower, so i wanted to look it up. not an orchod, but jewel weed! a poison ivy remedy... so awesome...

i just moved here from north carolina, and i've really been enjoying all of the beautiful trails that are available in this area. the wild and plant life are so abundant!

thanks again for the wonderfully informative sight ;)

Posted by: Ed - southern Wright County
on: 2009-08-16 15:30:16

Aug 16,2009 Masses blooming along my driveway. Land is marshy. The plants are quite striking in bloom.

Posted by: Muhammad - Shingle Creek, West River Parkway
on: 2010-03-03 07:02:12

This plant is eminently well-named. The first time I touched a seed pod, I thought I had been attacked by a small animal. It turns out the pod had exploded and released its seeds. Lovely plant.

Posted by: M. Bartz - Southern Carlton County
on: 2010-05-23 08:54:04

At the edge of the lawn in the house I grew up in, there was a massive patch of Touch-me-nots. Which could create endless fun for a small easily amused child like myself. As a child I often made up names for plants that I did not know. I deemed this one the Pinch-me-plant. Even though I am all grown up, this plant still brings out the child in me. Last summer while walking with my three-year-old niece, we came across a patch of Touch-me-nots. I showed her how you could pinch the seed pods and they would pop. It was like looking at a mirror of my childhood as she discovered and played with this wonderous plant.

Posted by: Alison - St. Paul, MN
on: 2010-07-07 13:14:09

This touch-me-not can be found in Lilydale Regional Park in Saint Paul along the trail to the fossil grounds.

Posted by: Sandy - Southern Crow Wing County
on: 2010-08-07 10:02:01

They're growing in the unmowed areas adjacent to my yard.

Posted by: DM - Nisswa
on: 2010-08-23 12:55:29

I just found Spotted Touch-Me-Nots blooming in abundance next to the waters edge by my dock on the channel between Nisswa & Roy Lakes. Thanks to this great site I was able to identify them.

Posted by: Jules - SW Anoka County/Lino Lakes
on: 2010-09-12 13:11:42

These are growing in a ditch between two culverts and also right next to my garage with my hosta and iris

Posted by: Shan - Makinen, St Louis County
on: 2011-08-14 20:30:52

We have a patch of these growing in our backyard. My backyard is in the Superior National Forest.

Posted by: Jamie - Hugo, Washington County
on: 2011-08-15 11:32:16

We have these growing in our backyard, not far from the fence of a large swampy pasture.

Posted by: Allan - Minneapolis
on: 2011-08-25 16:51:32

We have a few of these in the wooded area on the north and east sides of Cedar Lake.

Posted by: Shelley - Stillwater
on: 2011-09-03 17:53:05

I found these growing around the pond in my backyard. I didn't know what they were, so I was happy to find out on your website!

Posted by: Alyson - Ottertail County, Dora Township
on: 2011-09-03 21:34:25

Found the plant/flower down by our lake, Little Elbow Lake near East Silent Lake. Don't remember seeing it before this year. Thanks to this wonderful website, I was able to identify the plant :0)

Posted by: Abrahm - New Ulm
on: 2011-09-07 21:45:37

I saw a few large stands of these flowers in Flaundrau State Park on the Western part of the Grasslands trail. There's a moist area there with some cattails also. We went in early September and we saw at least a dozen hummingbirds at these two flower patches fighting for territory and feeding on nectar. Beautiful flowers and an amazing opportunity to see gorgeous birds!

Posted by: Marilyn - Blaine
on: 2012-08-11 10:21:10

I was trying to find the name of the plant we spotted in Pioneer Park in Blaine that he noticed Hummingbirds loving and this is it...Do you know if this is invasive or not? We would love it for our Hummingbirds at home.Anoka

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2012-08-11 15:55:02

Marilyn, Impatiens capensis is a native. While it can be prolific I wouldn't call it invasive, since it co-exists with many other native species in its wetland habitat and does not crowd them out like invasives tend to do. If you plan to put this in a garden, make sure it is in wet enough soil for it to survive.

Posted by: Judy - At edge of Gull Lake in Bar Harbor native shoreline planting
on: 2013-08-25 09:32:42

I also mistook this for an orchid and never saw it before. Thanks for your selfless website to add to my store of knowledge.

Posted by: MaryAnn - Northfield
on: 2013-10-21 16:12:21

We moved into our home in Northfield a year ago and I discovered this summer that touch-me-not is growing in abundance in parts of our back yard. I don't want to eradicate all of them but I would like to control the portion of them that are creeping into a large perennial garden area. Do you have suggestion(s) for me on what to do? Thank you so much.

Posted by: sooty - winona
on: 2013-12-05 02:20:46

Ive had the pleasure of harvesting seeds from this plant this whole summer so much i had dreams of exploding seed pods... being in there habitat harvesting while being visited by humming birds and sphinx moths and other pollinators was a meditative and spiritual opportunity.

Posted by: Bgrossing - Coon Rapids
on: 2014-07-27 08:12:04

I have millions of these and I want them gone!!! How do I get rid of these when they're growing up in my plants and elsewhere?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-07-27 08:37:32

Bgrossing, this is an annual spreads solely by seed. You probably have a large seed bank (maybe years worth) to contend with. The plants uproot easily enough so just keep pulling and prevent new seed from forming, and eventually they'll be down to manageable numbers. I personally think it's a great plant and would love one in my own yard, but would want to keep it reined in myself. We have several native species in our gardens that behave the same way and have to spend time managing them, too, but that's not a full-time job.

Posted by: Julie - Northern, St. Louis Cty, Duluth
on: 2014-08-09 11:26:20

We have these growing/bordering all around our small back deck. I think they are a beautiful addition to our flowers and yard in the summer months. I was wondering what they were, if they were wild or someone previously planted them because the way they outline the deck is too perfect. We almost cut then down the first year before we saw the beautiful orange flowers they produce. Now we enjoy watching the hummingbirds that are always around and our honeybees in our back yard seem to love them too. Thanks for the info!

Posted by: Anne - Rural Stales
on: 2014-08-11 18:29:29

Found the Impatiens capensis on my walk with my dogs south of Staples, (central MN) and I too, thought they might be an orchid. This website was so easy to use! Thank you for a wonderful resource!

Posted by: Rita - Chaska
on: 2014-08-12 16:53:23

Was just out exploring the swampy area of our backyard (since we moved here in November, property is new to us!!). Found these beautiful little flowers blooming in a moist area. I've never seen them before, but will surely look forward to them every summer!! Thank you for this outstanding website!!

Posted by: Sydney - Randall
on: 2014-08-13 10:03:19

We have these growing in our yard. We have a river in our back yard. This is a first that we saw this beauty. Thank you for your site.

Posted by: Laura - Hennepin County - Maple Creek Park (Plymouth)
on: 2014-08-19 12:51:08

There are large patches along the path. Today I saw a ruby-throated hummingbird flitting from flower to flower.

Posted by: Pike bay lodge - Northern St. Louis County
on: 2014-09-01 16:34:24

can you transplant to take advantage of seeding When do they dump their seeds?

Posted by: Jenny K - Whitewater State Park
on: 2014-09-03 12:14:22

I saw man of these beautiful flowers at Whitewater State Park (southeast MN)in August.

Posted by: Chloe - Firemans Park, Chaska
on: 2014-09-27 15:18:00

I am doing a field guide project for school and i am doing wild flowers. I don't live far away from Fireman's Park, so we thought it best to look there. I spotted several Spotted Touch-me-not plants along the shore of the Clayhole(the lake in the park).

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