|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 22 August 2011|
Many of us grow impatiens in our gardens, but more than likely itís the kind from New Guinea and not the native variety pictured above. Itís more likely that youíve seen them hiking in the woods. Jewelweed (pictured above) or spotted touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis) and the pale touch-me-not (I. pallida), are the only impatiens native to North America. Jewelweed is an annual whose main attraction is the bright orange or yellow flowers and the seed capsules that pop open when touched.
In the wild jewelweed, which sports orange flowers (1 to 1.5 inches across) with red spots, is partial to moist shady locations and is a FACW plant potentially indicating the presence of a wetland. Pale jewelweed with its yellow to pale yellow flowers and slightly larger flowers (1.5 inches across) is partial to limestone soils and wetter woods and meadows. The flowers are attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and birds. The seed capsules when ripe explode upon impact, an effective method of seed dispersal. Plants grow to a height of 2 to 5 feet and bloom throughout the summer, often into October if there is a late frost.
A member of the Jewelweed plant family (Balsaminaceae), it is hardy between USDA plant zones 2 and 8 and is found throughout the US with the exception of the southwestern and northern plains states. Jewelweed is also used a remedy to relieve the itching from poison ivy. Given the right location jewelweed can be used as a border plant or in the naturalized garden. Since pale jewelweed prefers limestone soils it is suitable for urban lots.
Photo source: www.mobot.org