Impatiens capensis (Spotted Touch-me-not)

Plant Info
Also known as: Jewelweed
Family:Balsaminaceae (Touch-me-not)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:shade, sun; moist thickets, along shores
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:2 to 5 feet
USDA PLANTS database:Minnesota county distribution map

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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 orange with a varying amount of red spots on the inside of the flower. The spots are sometimes absent altogether, or so many that the lower lobes look more red than orange.

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 stems up to about 1 inch long. Attachment is alternate. The main stem is usually light green and can be transluscent, or nearly so.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] 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”.


Spotted Touch-me-not and Pale Touch-me-not are similar species, but the latter is overall a larger plant with noticeably larger flowers and the spur on its flower is much shorter. When I first came upon a Spotted Touch-me-not that didn't have red 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 flowers. According to one of my field guides, Touch-me-not is an important nectar plant for hummingbirds. The stems also contain a juice that can relieve the sting from Poison Ivy or Stinging Nettle.

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More photos

Photos taken at Long Lake Regional Park, New Brighton, MN, Battle Creek Regional Park, St Paul, MN and Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Shoreview, MN September 2006 and July-September 2009


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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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 in 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.

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