The Sensitive Plant OOR

The Sensitive Plant OOR

The Sensitive Plant OOR

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.

Jewelweed has a long history of use in Native American medicine. When applied topically, sap from the stem and leaves is said to relieve itching and pain from a variety of ailments, including hives, poison ivy, stinging nettle, and other skin sores and irritations. The sap has also been shown to have anti-fungal properties and can be used to treat athlete’s foot.

Jewelweed makes a lovely addition to native plant gardens that are located in moist, partially shaded areas. Not only are the flowers aesthetically pleasing, so are the hummingbirds, bumblebees, and butterflies that are attracted to the flowers. Jewelweed can be used to fill in empty spaces in the garden that might otherwise be taken over by non-native weeds. Jewelweed can be propagated easily by direct sowing of fresh seed in early fall. Once established, a patch of jewelweed will maintain itself through annual seed production. 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. (Source: hort.extension.wisc.edu)



Related Articles