im-PAY-shuns (im-PAT-ee-ens) ka-PEN-sis
Synonyms of Impatiens capensis (19) (Updated on 12-27-21 from Plants of the World Online): Balsamina fulva (Nutt.) Ser., Chrysaea biflora (Walter) Nieuwl. & Lunell, Impatiens biflora Walter, Impatiens biflora f. albiflora Weath., Impatiens biflora f. biflora Fosberg, Impatiens biflora f. citrina Weath., Impatiens biflora f. immaculata Weath., Impatiens biflora f. peasei A.H.Moore ex Weath., Impatiens biflora f. platymeris Weath., Impatiens capensis f. albiflora (E.L.Rand & Redfield) Fernald & B.G.Schub., Impatiens capensis f. citrina (Weath.) Fernald & B.G.Schub., Impatiens capensis f. immaculata (Weath.) Fernald & B.G.Schub., Impatiens capensis f. peasei (A.H.Moore ex Weath.) Fernald & B.G.Schub., Impatiens capensis f. platymeris (Weath.) Fernald & B.G.Schub., Impatiens fulva Nutt., Impatiens fulva f. albiflora E.L.Rand & Redfield, Impatiens maculata Muhl., Impatiens noli-tangere subsp. biflora (Walter) Hultén, Impatiens nortonii Rydb.
Impatiens capensis Meerb. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Jewelweed. It was named and described by Nicholaas Meerburgh in Afbeeldingen van Zeldzaame Gewassen in 1775. Information about Mr. Meerburgh on Wikipedia is not in English…
The genus, Impatiens L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
As of 12-27-21 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists a whopping 1,067 species in the Impatiens genus. It is a member of the plant family Balsaminaceae with only TWO genera. Hmmm… Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO. The number of species in the genus fluctuates often.
The above distribution map for Impatiens capensis is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green are where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced. The map on the USDA Plants Database is similar and also includes Yukon (Yukon Territory) in Canada.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND A BETTER PLANT ID.
I moved back to the family farm in west-central Missouri in February 2013 and a lot had changed. I had been away for more than 20 years so that was pretty normal. My mother and father were in the 80’s, so there was a lot they weren’t able to keep up with. Even me, then at 53, there was a lot I couldn’t keep up with either. That happens in nature in areas you really don’t need to be involved in. Nature will take its course one way or another.
The Impatiens capensis is one of several species I hadn’t noticed here before. When I first saw it in the swampy area in the southeast corner of the farm, I thought it was a really neat plant. The way its interesting flowers were just kind of dangling from the stems was very odd.
I had been blogging for several years about gardening and plants, but I had just begun to identify wildflowers. Doing wildflower research was not as easy in 2013 as it is now but I managed to figure out this species was Impatiens capensis, commonly known as the Jewel Weed.
Impatiens capensis flowers have 5 petals and 3 sepals. The two lateral sepals, small and membranous, are located behind the upper lip of the upper petal. The third sepal is inflated into a pouch which tapers to the nectar-producing spur… Flowers emerge from the upper leaf axils and are held by thin pedicels. To read a more complicated description, click on the link to Missouri Plants at the bottom of the page. Illinois Wildflowers has an easier to understand description. I am just giving you the short version…
In 2013, the Jewel Weed had basically taken over the swampy area in the corner. The city park and lake was next door (south) and there was there were the tracks from the former Rock Island Railroad between the farm and the park. There was a big culvert under the old roadbed where the lake drained keeping this area wet most of the time. The old road railroad tracks were removed and now is it part of the Katy Trail State Park.
The Impatiens capensis produces an abundance of flowers that attract hummingbirds and a variety of bees.
I read where bumblebees chew holes near the spurs of the flowers to get to the nectar which allows other insects to eat from the holes as well. Apparently, the flowers do not need to be pollinated to produce fruit…
The flowers are replaced by curious fruit… I didn’t take photos of the leaves and stems for ID because you can easily tell what species this is from the flowers. BUT, there is a similar species, Impatiens pallida, with yellow flowers. Without flowers, you can tell the difference from the leaves. You can see the leaves behind the fruit in the above photo… The leaf margins of Impatiens capensis have fewer than 9 teeth while Impatiens pallida have more than 9.
The fruit exploded when I squeezed on it. It reminded me of a rubber band… Missouri Plants calls the seed pods “elastically dehiscent.”
Jewel Weed can grow to around 4 feet tall…
There is always an abundance of activity in the swamp area. Bees, flies, butterflies, and hummingbirds. I was especially amazed by the number of hummingbirds.
Doing wildflower research is very interesting once you get into it. The species is a native of North America, but the man who discovered and named it (Nicholas Meerburg) called it Impatiens capensis. The species name means “from the Cape of Good Hope” because he thought it was a native of South Africa…
As I mentioned earlier, the Jewel Weed has basically been taken over by other species in the swampy area but it is still alive and well… Now it has expended more toward the edge of the swamp and even along the fence on the south side of the front pasture…
The above photo taken in 2019 is of a HUGE colony in the southeast corner of the farm, but not in the actual swamp…
Here’s what they looked like on April 11 in 2020. The Jewel Weed is an annual species but their seeds spread by explosion…
The south side of the south hayfield had grown up in blackberry briars, Japanese Honeysuckle, and small trees. It was all cut down in the fall of 2020 and a new fence put in. This allowed a lot of wildflowers to grow that had been unnoticed before. There was a HUGE colony of Impatiens capensis in one area…
While the flowers may be interesting, I would NOT recommend planting this species…
It will definitely become a species you may learn to dislike…
At some point, I may add more information but you can check out the links at the bottom of the page for further reading…
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. My farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
NOTE: Plants of the World Online is the most up-to-date database. It is very hard for some to keep with name changes these days so you may find a few discrepancies between the websites. Just be patient. Hopefully, someday they will be in harmony. 🙂
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
ARKANSAS NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
PFAF (PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
U.S. FOREST SERVICE PLANT OF THE WEEK
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN
WILDFLOWERS OF THE ADIRONDACKS
WASHINGTON STATE NOXIOUS WEED CONTROL BOARD
ALTERNATIVE NATURE ONLINE HERBAL
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂