Touch-me-Not


Touch-me-Not aka Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Plant names can be descriptive, deceptive and sometimes obscure. In the case of spotted touch-me-not, the name suggests menace, as if spines or other nasty surprises await the curious. Not so – this is a benevolent and useful plant. The ‘touch-me-not’ refers to what happens when a ripe seed pod is touched; it opens explosively, scattering seeds in all directions. Other names include jewelweed, perhaps because of the brightly-coloured flowers, and Lady’s earrings. Scientifically, it is Impatiens capensis, the impatient one of the cape. There are other Impatiens species on the Island, but capensis is by far the most common.

Description:

This is a fairly tall (up to 1.7 m – 5.5ft) annual, found in masses in wet areas, ditches, stream banks. It usually grows in partial to full shade, although it can tolerate sunlight. The stem is rather succulent and weak. Leaves of the touch-me-not are alternate, long and thin, coarsely toothed. This plant flowers profusely over a four to five month period, from early summer to late fall. The flowers themselves are complicated. They dangle from long stalks, with three petals and an enlarged sepal which serves as a nectar sac. Flower colour is variable, usually golden to orange, with reddish-brown spots. The fruits ripen over quite a long period, so the little explosive pods can be found almost anytime.

This species is native to eastern North America and is common as far west as Saskatchewan. If you follow almost any stream here on the Island you will encounter ‘the impatient one’ waiting for you to help its in seed dispersal – I cannot pass without touching a few pods. It is easily grown from seed and will keep itself going in any wet, shaded area with decent soil – ideal around pond edges and stream-lets, where its dense habit provides cover for many amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and even birds. It is a nectar plant, very attractive to butterflies and humming birds, and thus a great addition to a wild garden.

To close on a medicinal note, Touch-me not has been used by many cultures as first aid against poison ivy attacks, insect stings and skin inflammations of various sorts – the whole plant is crushed and the watery juice smeared on irritated areas. Works for me on bee stings!

Upcoming Events

Jul
27
Sat
10:00 am Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Tracking the Mammals of PEI
Jul 27 @ 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Come on out and learn about the native and introduced mammals found on PEI, as well as a brief look at some of the mammals we’ve lost. After a brief slideshow, we’ll head off to
Aug
17
Sat
1:00 pm Volunteer Afternoon
Volunteer Afternoon
Aug 17 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Come out and help with our work on our Native Plant Arboretum. We’ll have lots of tools and compost and mulch, and a variety of native shrubs, wildflowers and ferns to plant. This is already
Aug
25
Sun
2:00 pm Fourth Annual Festival of Forests
Fourth Annual Festival of Forests
Aug 25 @ 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Our Fourth Annual Festival of Forests will be a family-friendly event, with children’s activities, guided walks, food and micro-workshops. This will be a great opportunity to explore the wonders of the Acadian Forest.
Sep
21
Sat
7:00 pm September Stargazing
September Stargazing
Sep 21 @ 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Learn about the night sky and get to know some constellations. This outing will teach some basics of astronomy and then head out into the dark for naked-eye stargazing
Oct
13
Sun
2:00 pm Autumn in the Forest
Autumn in the Forest
Oct 13 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
A walk along the trails of Macphail Woods, looking at both plants and animals. This is a great outing for people of all ages.

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