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FutureStarrAWhat Does Jewelweed Look Like
A self-seeding annual, jewelweed typically grows two to five feet in height. It has weak, watery stems and alternately-arranged, oval-shaped leaves with toothed margins. Seedlings sprout in early spring and reach maximum size by August. Flowering begins in mid-summer and continues until frost kills the plant. The fruit is an elongated capsule, which, when ripe, bursts open at the slightest touch. Jewelweed resembles the closely-related pale touch-me-not (Impatiens pallida), which can be distinguished by its yellow flowers.
Jewelweed is a widespread and common plant that occurs in moist, semi-shady areas throughout northern and eastern North America. It often forms dense, pure stands in floodplain forests and around the forested edges of marshes and bogs. Jewelweed also colonizes disturbed habitats such as ditches and road cuts. It can be an aggressive competitor in its favored habitats, and is one of the few native North American plants that has been shown to compete successfully against garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), which is a non-native invasive weed that threatens many eastern North American forests.The showy orange flowers of jewelweed must be cross-pollinated by insects or hummingbirds. However, jewelweed also has inconspicuous flowers that never open. These flowers (termed cleistogamous by botanists) fertilize themselves and produce seed without ever exchanging pollen with another flower. Cleistogamous flowers are very small (about 1 mm long) and are borne near the bases of the leaves. Research has shown that seeds produced by the showy, cross-pollinated flowers grow into larger, hardier plants, but the cleistogamous flowers produce seed at a much lower cost to the parent plant.
Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, is an annual plant in the balsam family (Balsaminaceae) native to northern and eastern North America that also goes by other common names including orange balsam, orange jewelweed, spotted jewelweed, and spotted touch-me-not. The species name capensis, meaning “of the cape”, was applied because its origin was mistakenly thought to be from South Africa. It is common and widespread in moist, shady areas such as low woodlands, margins of bogs and marshes, along streams and lakes, in ditches, and in disturbed areas such as road cuts.This self-seeding summer annual germinates in early spring and grows two to five feet tall by mid-summer from a shallow branching taproot. The somewhat weak, brittle stems are smooth, almost translucent and succulent and range in color from pale green to reddish green. Some plants have swollen or darkened nodes. The alternate, bluish-green leaves are oval-shaped with coarsely toothed margins for a scalloped appearance. Although they can get up to 5 inches long, the leaves are usually about 2½ to 3 inches long. Sparkling droplets of rain or dew beading up on the smooth leaves may be the source of the common name of jewelweed. (Source: hort.extension.wisc.edu)