There are two species of jewelweed in our state, Impatiens capensis and Impatiens pallida.  They are very similar.  Both have very juicy stems and while they are most common in moist shady areas, they can grow with some sun too.  They both have lovely yellow or orange flowers pollinated by bees and hummingbirds. 

The name touch-me-not comes from what happens when touch the fruits, which start to form a couple weeks after the flowers appear.  The fruits have an explosive dispersal system.  If you touch them just when they are ripe, they burst open, in a surprising way.  It's fun, try it!

Traditionally the juicy stems have been cut and applied to blisters from poison ivy or the stings of nettles.  

We like this plant on the trail because it is a native annual that thrives in the disturbed situations that are common along paths and streams.  As we reduce disturbance in some of these areas, the jewelweed will gradually be replaced by perennials.

There are quite a few different explanations for the common name, jewelweed.  But perhaps it is because of the droplets that leaves produce under certain conditions.  This process is called guttation, and while the drops look like dew, they are instead produced in special glands on the leaves called hydathodes.  Look for them early in the morning.  Zoom in on the picture above to see the diamond-like droplets at specific points on the leaf edges.