Scientific name: Impatiens capensis
Common name: Jewelweed
Plant type: Annual
Impatiens capensis (jewelweed) is native to stream banks and moist woodlands throughout the eastern US and Canada. Its vibrant orange flowers provide bright splashes of color from early summer until mid-fall. Shaped like pouty-lipped trumpets, with a curlicue at the rear and slight speckling on the inside of the throat, these blossoms are attractive to insects, and a magnet for hummingbirds. Plants are 2-5’ tall, with spreading branches and succulent stems that are nearly translucent. Leaves are oval, toothed, and alternate. The juices of both the stems and crushed leaves are a folk remedy for the itch of poison ivy rash. Bursting seedpods, which mature in late summer through autumn, give the plant another common name: touch-me-not. Kids (and adults) love squeezing them and watching them explode! Jewelweed prefers shade, but will do fine in full sun if the soil is kept moist. It propagates by seed and can “travel” around the garden. To prevent re-seeding, cut the plant back or pull it out (the roots are shallow) before the pods mature.
Credits: Text by Valerie Boss. Photos by Ellen Honeycutt (left) and Valerie Boss (right).