Impatiens capensis (Spotted Touch-me-not)
|Also known as:||Jewelweed|
|Habitat:||shade, sun; moist thickets, along shores|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||2 to 5 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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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:
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 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 (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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- Spotted Touch-me-not plant
- Spotted Touch-me-not plant
- Spotted Touch-me-not with Pale Touch-me-not
- early spring seedlings
- more flowers
- flowers with almost solid red lower petals
- flowers with no spots
- atypical yellow flowers with pink spots
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin, Anoka and Hennepin counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?
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 ;)
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.
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.
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.
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.
on: 2010-08-07 10:02:01
They're growing in the unmowed areas adjacent to my yard.
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.
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
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.
on: 2011-08-15 11:32:16
We have these growing in our backyard, not far from the fence of a large swampy pasture.
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.
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!
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)
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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!
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!!
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.
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.
on: 2014-09-01 16:34:24
can you transplant to take advantage of seeding When do they dump their seeds?
on: 2014-09-03 12:14:22
I saw man of these beautiful flowers at Whitewater State Park (southeast MN)in August.
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).
on: 2015-08-21 15:52:35
These lovely Jewelweed are all along our shoreline. Today, 21 August 2015, there are a family of Hummingbirds lapping and squeaking :)
on: 2015-08-22 17:17:12
I thought perhaps they were orchids, but was able to correctly identify. Thanks!
on: 2015-08-23 22:56:44
There are a very large number of these plants (hundreds and hundreds-perhaps thousands) growing in a swampy, shady area right off of Coon Rapids Blvd. Ext. street near the railroad tracks. They grow very tall in some places-appear to be up to 6 feet tall. They are very pretty little flowers and I am pleased to know that they are beneficial for hummingbirds and insects. The medicinal effects for poison ivy and nettle irritation is very interesting. The way they grow they seem to help keep the stinging nettles and thistles in check. They are very easy to uproot. Thanks for the website and information.
on: 2015-09-11 10:19:53
These are growing next to the lake by the river access in William O'Brien State Park, right by the fishing pier. I thought it was some type of orchid. Wonderful to identify it. I didn't touch it, so next time I see these I will!
on: 2016-08-14 20:53:16
I noticed this plant when I saw a hummingbird drinking from it. The property was on Crystal/Ice Lake in Grand Rapids. The same property has a lot of poison ivy so I was happy to see that the juice from the stems can help with poison ivy sting. My SIL is a Master Gardener and lead me to this site and the info about this plant. Thank you for this great resource!
on: 2016-08-21 11:17:18
I have these growing on my property in western pert of Andover in the shade under a row of White Spruce next to a short wall. Plenty of cool shade and moisture. Keeps the hummingbirds around when the feeders are empty. Cute flowers but pretty aggressive growers.
on: 2017-07-23 19:52:16
Grows all over our backyard. Love it!
on: 2017-08-11 11:31:45
I discovered this site this summer and am really appreciating it. In my efforts to re-establish native plants on our lakeshore, I have been using it to see if plants already there are native or invasive. So far, I have been relieved to identify both wild mint and the touch-me-not as being native.
on: 2017-08-15 20:52:01
Growing under a 50 foot tall pine tree in the back yard along the woods. I found a pretty little orange trumpet peeking out from the evergreen and discovered this. ha! I have another area in the yard where I am trying to establish native plants, but until I find a 2nd one, I don't want to move this one.
on: 2017-08-31 13:05:17
Several plants have grown up along our rip wrap rocks along the western shore line of Little McDonald Lake. Lake is above ordinary high water levels. Beautiful flower!
on: 2017-09-04 07:24:06
This was the first full summer in our home. We discovered TONS of these flowers in our backyard thanks to some help from some friends that are master gardeners. There are natural springs and a swamp in our backyard and we live very close to the Mississippi River.
on: 2018-05-16 18:59:35
This plant showed up in my yard in a few spots 2 years ago. Now there are quite a few patches of it. In the sun during the summer, it wilts quickly. Am afraid it could become a nuisance due to all the seeds that germinate. My backyard abuts a small wetland.
on: 2018-07-02 17:48:59
We started to notice this plant the last couple of years, and their numbers are increasing. Does this plant have a hollow stem, and shallow, red roots? If so, we have the correct variety? The deer are eating the tender tops off, to about 1/2 way down the stem. They're growing along a wooded area on the edge of our gardens.
on: 2018-08-14 21:26:31
We came across two large clusters of these flowers during our hike to the Middle Falls. Both large clusters occurred in sunny areas where there was a break in the tree canopy and somewhat wet soil.
on: 2018-09-07 18:51:11
These took over in a willow transition to wetland area after I removed buckthorn. They are mixed in with stinging nettle. The deer love to eat them. Great website.
on: 2019-08-16 21:59:30
I often let seedlings I do not "recognize" as one of my known species set grow... And alas, finally in bloom I now have 2 gorgeous specimens along my home, each about 3 feet high and delicately lovely! I'm excited to attempt to keep some seeds and even more thrilled of the medicinal use as a topical anti inflammatory! Thank you!
on: 2019-08-30 21:31:54
Noticed these little beauties on the upper portion of the Oberg Mountain trail
on: 2019-12-06 20:30:37
Once common along the lakeshore and pond edges around here in part shade but sadly attacked by Japanese Beatles which give the plants a ratty moth-eaten look. Deer nibble away the tops.
on: 2020-06-06 12:28:43
It grows all over in my shady flower beds. I leave it to reseed itself each year. It does very well and is prolific. Bees, humming birds, and sphinx moths love it.
on: 2020-09-02 14:44:40
One of our favorites in our home marsh in White Bear Lake, MN!
on: 2021-06-15 13:03:34
I have these on my shoreline in Prior Lake and have some on the side of my house and I do leave them because I have hummingbirds. I leave my shoreline full of weeds so it is good for pollinators.
on: 2021-08-16 18:02:10
All parts of the jewelweed plant are used by natural dyers to produce orange to reddish dye. Use alum as a mordant. I've had good success with wool and animal based fibers.
on: 2021-09-05 19:41:45
just found this lovely plant near the lakeshore where I live!
on: 2022-08-22 16:05:11
I let this wonderful plant roam around the garden where it pleases. The hummingbirds visit all day, every day.
on: 2022-10-09 21:58:16
At my house, there have always been a few of these that grow below the riprap hillside on the North side of my garage, [Jewelweeds only grow near the North-East corner of my garage.] There's a large nunmber of them growing one block away from my house, in the ditch along the West side of Stanford Avenue. At first glance, you wouldn't suspect that 3.5 ft. Jewelweed plants and 8 in. "Busy Lizzy" Impatiens bedding plants are related, but the succulent/translucent stems and exploding seed pods of both show the connection.