Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Global Range: Impatiens capensis occurs from Alaska southwards through most of the Canadian provinces and into the eastern two-thirds of the continental U.S. Populations occur as far west as Colorado, with an additional disjunct grouping of populations in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho (USDA-NRCS 1999). Hulten (1968) reports that I. capensis is also described from Europe, but corroborating sources are not known. It is reported from 17 counties in Mississippi, becoming uncommon to rare in the southern one third of the state (Mississippi Natural Heritage Program). It is reported from almost every county in Arkansas (Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission). It is common throughout Michigan (Michigan Natural Features Inventory). It is restricted to the eastern quarter of the state of Kansas (Kansas Natural Features Inventory). It is adventive in Boulder County, Colorado (Weber and Wittmann 1992). It occurs in the southern half of Manitoba (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre).
Catalog Number: US 352718
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. Norton
Year Collected: 1895
Locality: Pottawatomie, Kansas, United States, North America
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Comments: I. capensis occurs in a variety of habitat types which range from moist to wet. These habitats include moist woods, floodplains, marshes, streamsides, shaded ditch edges, fens (Gleason and Cronquist 1963, Great Plains Flora Association 1986, Weber and Wittmann 1996b), and even along rocky lakeshores in the Chicago area (Swink and Wilhelm 1994). It is also reported from river edges, ponds, and oxbow lakes in mesic bottomland settings (Mississippi Natural Heritage Program). Sometimes I. capensis forms dense, nearly monotypic stands (Niering 1979).
Flower-Visiting Insects and Birds of Orange Jewelweed in Illinois
(Hummingbirds and most insects suck nectar; some bees collect pollen, as noted below; beetles knaw on the flowers and are non-pollinating; observations are from Robertson, Graenicher, Bertin, and Grundel et al. as indicated below)
Trochilidae: Archilochus colubris sn fq (Rb, Gr, Brt)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp (Rb); Apidae (Bombini): Bombus bimaculatus (Gnd), Bombus griseocollis sn (Gr), Bombus impatiens sn cp (Rb), Bombus pensylvanicus sn (Rb), Bombus vagans sn (Gr); Anthophoridae (Anthophorinae): Anthophora terminalis sn (Gr); Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata sn (Rb); Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis cp np (Rb), Megachile mendica cp np (Rb)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlorella striata cp np (Rb), Lasioglossum albipennis cp np (Gr), Lasioglossum versatus cp np (Rb)
Syrphidae: Rhingia nasica sn (Gr)
Papilionidae: Papilio troilus sn (Rb)
Chrysomelidae: Diabrotica undecimpunctata gnw np (Rb)
sporangium of Plasmopara obducens infects and damages pale green leaf of Impatiens capensis
In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
Podosphaera balsaminae parasitises Impatiens capensis
Foodplant / parasite
telium of Puccinia impatientis parasitises live Impatiens capensis
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Comments: Tens of thousands of populations are likely extant rangewide. British Columbia: >30; Manitoba: >100; Mississippi: numerous, from 17 counties primarily in the northern part of the state; Michigan: numerous and common; Ontario: very common, many thousands; Georgia: ubiquitous in the northern half of the state; very common in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Delaware, Missouri, and New York; New Hampshire: not rare; Kansas: 150-200, restricted to the eastern quarter; Texas: rare, easternmost part of the state barely makes it into the range of this species.
In Manitoba, this species tends to be a weedy species along moist ditches, deciduous riverine forests and creeks, lakeshores, on wet to moist soils; an annual (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Impatiens capensis
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Impatiens capensis
Public Records: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 16
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Impatiens capensis is very common and demonstrably secure in many parts of its range, although it is probably somewhat imperiled locally in other areas. Human activities are likely impacting this species through the destruction, fragmentation, and degradation of its wetland habitats, but at this time these activities have not caused a significant decline. Wild harvesting of this species for medicinal use is limited, local, and unlikely to be a financially lucrative enterprise in the near future.
Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Comments: The often-publicized loss of North American wetlands constitutes a direct loss of habitat for I. capensis. Being a somewhat common and widespread species, it is reasonable to expect that many of the wetlands drained or filled for agriculture or urban development in the last three hundred years were originally populated by I. capensis. Some states have lost higher proportions of wetlands than others, so the loss of I. capensis habitat/populations is likely heterogeneous across the continent. Within the tallgrass prairie ecoregion, for example, especially large proportions of wetlands were drained for crop production.
Comments: Any assessment of the wild population collection threat to I. capensis would need to consider the fact that it is annual, and essentially survives from year to year by successful seed production. Because the fresh juice must be used to obtain the medicinal benefits of this plant, its commercial value in the wild plant trade may be somewhat limited (Kara Dinda pers. comm.). It is listed as an "herb that can be commonly gathered" (Frontier Co-op 2000).
It is reported that this species would be difficult to cultivate for several reasons. It requires 75% shade as does ginseng. It must be grown from seed due to its annual life history and shallow, poorly developed root system. The seeds are difficult to collect because the fruits shatter immediately upon ripening. The seeds may also require cold treatment to germinate (Kara Dinda pers. comm.).
An individual familiar with the herbal medicinal trade in the U.S. states that this species receives little commercial attention, and that use is primarily on a local basis (McGuffin pers. comm.).
This species is collected on a very small scale in Mississippi, where such harvesting has little impact on the species (Ronald Wieland pers. comm.). The vast majority of all plant material used is wildcrafted (Ed Fletcher pers. comm.).
In Manitoba, there is no evidence to suggest that it is being collected. Native people may possibly collect it (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre).
The loss of wetlands in North America constitutes a great threat to the habitat of I. capensis. However, I. capensis occurs in a wide range of community types, and can appear in disturbed areas, which both suggest that I. capensis has reasonable prospects for survival on an ecologically damaged landscape (Swink and Wilhelm 1994, Weber and Wittmann 1996b). In Mississippi, the bottomlands in which this species is found are not disturbed to the extent that the surrounding uplands are. Though some wetlands are being converted, this poses little threat to this species in Mississippi at this time (Ronald Wieland pers. comm.). Threats include fragmentation and degradation of wetlands in Michigan, but this species is demonstrably secure (Mike Penskar pers. comm.). In Manitoba, threats include wetland and land drainage, road maintenance activities, forestry practices, and land clearing (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre).
Because each plant yields very little juice and does not dry well for preservation, wild populations could be devastated rather quickly if the species were to become popular as an herbal remedy (Kara Dinda pers. comm.).
Biological Research Needs: A more thorough conservation assessment of I. capensis would need to determine whether it is indeed also native to Europe (Hulten 1968). Also, those assessing this species' status might attempt to determine if this species is habitat-disturbance intolerant in certain parts of its range, or if, as reported locally in some texts, I. capensis can appear/survive in disturbed and semi-natural lands. Finally, because I. capensis is annual, those assessing I. capensis' status may need to research the longevity of its seedbank.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Uses: FOOD, MEDICINE/DRUG, OTHER USES/PRODUCTS
Production Methods: Wild-harvested
Comments: Impatiens capensis has traditional uses for both food and medicine (Niering 1979, Peterson 1977, Weiner 1980). This species, and other Impatiens species, have numerous known medicinal qualities, especially in the treatment of poison ivy rashes (Ronald Wieland pers. comm., Robyn Klein pers. comm.). The juice extracted from fresh stems and leaves is generally regarded as the medicinally valuable part (Weiner 1980). It is taken internally to treat the poison ivy rash (Kara Dinda pers. comm.). A tea or tincture is rarely used as a diuretic or mild laxative (AllHerb.com 2000). It can also be applied topically as an immediate antihistamine agent for mosquito bites. This property may lend a high degree of marketing potential to this species (Kara Dinda pers. comm.). It is also used externally to treat poison oak, ringworm, warts, and nettle sting. Euell Gibbons presents a recipe for "jewelweed icecubes" as a salve for poison ivy (Mike Penskar pers. comm.). It one of the "12 healers" in the methodology of Dr. Bach, a renowned herbal healer of the 1930's, who recommends it as a cure for loneliness. He also prescribed formulations using Impatiens "for quick-tempered children who become easily frustrated. They are typically choleric children who tend to be hyperactive and impetuous. Often good in combination with vine (unspecified species) for strong-willed children." (Frontier Co-op 2000)
Impatiens capensis, the orange jewelweed, common jewelweed, spotted jewelweed, spotted touch-me-not, or orange balsam, is an annual plant native to North America. It is common in bottomland soils, ditches, and along creeks, often growing side-by-side with its less common relative, Yellow Jewelweed (I. pallida).
The flowers are orange with a three-lobed corolla; one of the calyx lobes is colored similarly to the corolla and forms a hooked conical spur at the back of the flower. Plants may also produce non-showy cleistogamous flowers, which do not require cross-pollination. The stems are somewhat translucent, succulent, and have swollen or darkened nodes. The seed pods are pendant and have projectile seeds that explode out of the pods when they are lightly touched, if ripe, which is where the name 'touch-me-not' comes from. The leaves appear to be silver or 'jeweled' when held underwater, which is possibly where the jewelweed name comes from. Along with other species of jewelweed it is a traditional remedy for skin rashes, although controlled studies have not shown efficacy for this purpose.
Impatiens capensis was transported in the 19th and 20th centuries to England, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Finland, and potentially other areas of northern and central Europe. These naturalized populations persist in the absence of any common cultivation by people. This jewelweed species is quite similar to Impatiens noli-tangere, an Impatiens species native to Europe and Asia, as well as the other North American Impatiens. No evidence exists of natural hybrids, although the habitats occupied by the two species are very similar.
Nectar spurs are tubular elongations of petals and sepals of certain flowers that usually contain nectar. Flowers of Impatiens capensis have these nectar spurs. Nectar spurs are thought to have played a role in plant-pollinator coevolution. Curvature angles of nectar spurs of Impatiens capensis are variable. This angle varies from 0 degrees to 270 degrees.
The angle of the nectar spur is very important in the pollination of the flower and in determining the most efficient pollinator. Hummingbirds are the main pollinators. They remove more pollen per visit from flowers with curved nectar spurs than with perpendicular nectar spurs. But hummingbirds are not the only pollinators of Impatiens capensis. Bees play an important role in pollination as well. Due to hummingbirds and bees, the pollination of Impatiens capensis is very high.
- Dickinson, T.; Metsger, D.; Bull, J.; & Dickinson, R. (2004) ROM Field Guide to Wildflowers of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto:McClelland and Stewart Ltd., p 197.
- "BSBI List 2007" (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
- Impatiens capensis, Illinois Wildflowers: Orange Jewelweed
- Strausbaugh, P.D. & Core, E. L. (1964) Flora of West Virginia. 2nd ed. Seneca Books Inc., ISBN 0-89092-010-9, p. 622.
- Tavers,S.E., Temeles, E.J. and I. Pan. "The relationship between nectar spur curvature in jewelweed (Impatients capensis) and pollen removal by hummingbird pollinators" Canadian Journal of Botany, 2003, vol. 81, pp. 164-170.
- Elemans, Marjet. "Light, nutrients and the growth of herbaceous forest species" Acta Oecologica 2004, vol. 26, pp. 197-202.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Even though Impatiens capensis has been given several names by different authors at the specific level, and flower color and height can vary, there is apparently little disagreement on what constitutes this species, and no subspecies or varieties are recognized (Gleason and Cronquist 1963, Kartesz 1999, Swink and Wilhelm 1994).
EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!