Touch-me-not

Touch-me-not, or Jewelweed, are common names for family of herbaceous plants (Balsaminaceae) of which Impatiens is the principal genus. The genus name derives from the fact that a ripe seed capsule, when touched, explodes violently, projecting seed some distance. Between 600 and 700 species occur worldwide, primarily in Eurasia and Africa. There are 4 native species in Canada (I. ecalcarata, southeastern BC; I. capensis, southern BC and Alberta; I. noli-tangere, the Yukon Territory and BC to Manitoba; I. pallida, Ontario to Atlantic provinces) and 2 introduced. Flowers vary from bright orange to reddish or pale yellow. Native plants are annuals, prefer moist environments, have delicate appearance and vary in height (up to 1.5 m). The introduced perennial I. glandulifera is much taller, has more flowers and tends to become a weed. The introduced perennial I. sultani (patience plant or busy Lizzie) is a common houseplant or bedding plant. Multicoloured introduced annual I. balsamina (garden balsam) is a useful bedding plant. Recently, many new species have been introduced to cultivation and hybridized, producing new strains. I. capensis and I. pallida were used medicinally by Indians and settlers, especially for poison ivy and as dye.