Impatiens pallida Nutt.
Pale touch-me-not, Yellow jewelweed, Snapweed, Balsam, Wild balsam, Silverweed, Slippers, Quick-in-the-hand.
Nova Scotia . Saskatchewan . Georgia . Kansas
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Representing the only genus within Balsaminaceae
with members native to the United States, this unique
annual has many attractive qualities making it both
easy to identify and desireable within a wooded garden.
Boasting bright yellow flowers in the tail end of the
season, Impatiens pallida (formerly known by some
as Impatiens aurea) has much to offer.
The near translucent stalks glow luminously as they hold
aloft a canopy of soft green leaves glittering with dew
hence the common name,
'Jewelweed.' Children will delight in touching the
ripe fruit, sending forth an explosive shower of seeds
throughout the area. Finally, the toughness of this
species lends itself well for even the most difficult
corners of a garden.
Thin and oval to elliptic, the pale green leaves are
about 1 1/2 to 3 inches in length. They have an
interesting water-repelling quality, causing moisture
droplets to roll around on their surface like little
beads of mercury catching the morning sun.
Thin, ovate or elliptic, pale and glaucous beneath,
1 1/2 to 3" long, generally obtuse, coarsely toothed
and usually mucronate.
Pale yellow and usually sparsely dotted with reddish-brown
markings, the flowers are present from mid-June
through late September in the Chicago area. They tend
to dangle from a long stalk, and a short spur protrudes
from the back end at a right angle. A closely-related
species, Impatiens capensis, has a longer spur that
recurves under and parallel to the flower.
Pale yellow, sparingly dotted with reddish-brown or
sometimes dotless, 1" long, saccate sepal dilated-conic,
as broad as long, abruptly contracted into a short,
scarcely incurved notched spur less than one-third its
length. The bracts of the pedicels are lanceolate to
ovate and acute.
Explosively dehiscent capsule (drupe).
In late fall, coloration of this species is not of any
I. capensis, I.
noli-tangere, I. ecalcarata,
Although no information specific to this species of
Impatiens was found, there are general guidelines
available on the propagation of closely related species.
Germination can be achieved in 10 to 18 days if seeds
are sown in 65°F to 70°F soil. The seeds
will not germinate if no sunlight is present, so they
should be left uncovered. If grown indoors, seedlings
should be allowed to breathe; members of the
Impatiens genus tend to be highly susceptible to
damping-off disease. This is also a strong argument
for new soil and clean equipment.
This is a delightful species bringing bright colors
to shaded corners when little else is blooming. Prolific
enough to self-sow over a fairly large area, they require
little upkeep and are provide interesting foliage
during the early part of the season. Care should be
taken to provide enough space for expansion, although
excess seedlings and fully-grown plants are easily removed.
Mostly a selection for naturalized gardens, the native
Impatiens pallida is quite stately in the back
of the bed. Most effective en masse, the light green
foliage glitters with dew in the early mornings. In
my Chicagoland garden, the irrigation
system has been strategically placed to heighten this
effect (which works quite well with Lady's mantle
as well). If possible, they should be placed in an
accessible location as the flowers are better appreciated
up close. Children will also be delighted with the
explosive seed pods.
Acer saccharum, Asimina triloba,
Blephilia hirsuta, Carya cordiformis,
Cystopteris fragilis protrusa, Dentaria
laciniata, Eupatorium rugosum,
Fagus grandifolia, Hydrophyullum
appendiculatum, Hystrix patula,
Quercus rubra, Sanguinaria canadensis,
Smilacina racemosa, Tilia americana,
Viola pubescens, Viola striata.
Actinomeris alternifolia, Ambrosia trifida,
Amphicarpea bracteata, Asarum canadese,
Celtis occidentalis, Geum canadense,
Impatiens capensis, Laportea canadensis,
Phlox divaricata, Pilea pumila,
Polygonum scandens, Rhus radicans.
It has long been known throughout folk history that
jewelweed is a remedy against one of its most closely
associated companion plants: poison ivy (Rhus
radicans). The juicy stems of a close relative,
Impatiens capensis, are used in ointments for
hemmorrhoids, warts, and corns. It also has a history
of use for jaundice and asthma, although popularity in
this area is diminishing.
Supposedly, one can freeze small cubes of juice obtained
from the stems for future use. Pain from insect bites,
nettle stings, burns, sprains, ringworm, and various
skin diseases may be relieved by application.
- Britton, Nathaniel Lord and Addison Brown.
An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States
and Canada, vol II. New York: Dover, 1970.
- Bubel, Nancy. The New Seed-starters
Handbook. Emmaus: Rodale Press, 1988.
- Keville, Kathi. The Illustrated Herb
Encyclopedia. New York: Mallard Press, 1991.
- Mohlenbrock, Robert H. Guide to the
Vascular Flora of Illinois. Carbondale:
Southern Illinois University, 1986.
- Newcomb, Lawrence. Newcomb's Wildflower
Guide. Boston: Little Brown, 1977.
- Pojar, Jim and Andy Mackinnon. Plants
of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Redmond: B.C.
Ministry of Forests, 1994.
- Rickett, Harold William. Wild Flowers
of the United States: The Northeastern States,
vol. 2. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966.
- Swink, Floyd and Gerould Wilhelm. Plants
of the Chicago Region. Lisle: Morton Arboretum,
- Walters, Dirk R. and David J. Keil.
Vascular Plant Taxonomy, Third Edition.
Dubuque: Kendall / Hunt, 1977.
- Wyman, Donald. Wyman's Gardening
Encyclopedia. New York: MacMillan, 1986.