Impatiens capensis -Jewel Weed

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-25-13, #190-6.

Jewelweed

Impatiens capensis

im-PAY-shuns (im-PAT-ee-ens)  ka-PEN-sis

Synonyms of Impatiens capensis (19) (Updated on 3-9-21): 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 Riv. ex L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1753 using a previous description by Augustus Quirinus Rivinus. 

Plants of the World Online lists a whopping 1,068 species in the Impatiens genus (as of 3-9-21 when I last updated this page). The genus is a member of the plant family Balsaminaceae with only TWO genera. Hmmm… Those numbers could change as updates are made.

Distribution map of Impatiens capensis from the USDA Plants Database. Published on the internet at https://plants.usda.gov/java/. Retrieved on March 29, 2020.

The above distribution map for Impatiens capensis in North America is from the USDA Plants Database. The map on Plants of the World Online also shows the species as being introduced to France and Great Britain. The map doesn’t show near as much range for the species in North America as this one from the USDA Plants Database. This species is a spreader so it may very well be in more areas than has been reported.

THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND BETTER PLANT ID.

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-25-13, #190-7.

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.

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-25-13, #190-8.

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…

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-25-13, #190-9.

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.

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-25-13, #190-10.

The Impatiens capensis produces an abundance of flowers that attract hummingbirds and a variety of bees.

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-25-13, #190-11.

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…

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-25-13, #190-12.

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.

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-25-13, #190-13.

The fruit exploded when I squeezed on it. It reminded me of a rubber band… Missouri Plants calls the seed pods “elastically dehiscent.”

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) over 4′ tall on 9-25-13, #190-14.

Jewel Weed can grow to around 4 feet tall…

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-25-13, #190-18.

There is always an abundance of activity in the swamp area. Bees, flies, butterflies, and hummingbirds. I was especially amazed by the number of humminghirds.

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-6-18, #503-21.

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…

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-4-19, #623-14.

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…

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 9-4-19, #623-17.

The above photo taken in 2019 is of a HUGE colony in the southeast corner of the farm, but not in the actual swamp…

Impatiens capensis (Jewel Weed) on 4-11-20, #686-31.

Here’s what they looked like on April 11 in 2020. The Jewel Weed is an annual species but their seeds spread by explosion…

Impatiens capensis (Jewelweed) on 4-11-20, #686-32.

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 thebelmontrooster@yahoo.com. 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)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WIKIPEDIA (GENUS/SPECIES)
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
MISSOURI PLANTS
iNATURALIST
WILDFLOWERSEARCH.ORG
DAVE’S GARDEN
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
ARKANSAS NATIVE PLANT SOCIETY
ILLINOIS WILDFLOWERS
MINNESOTA WILDFLOWERS
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
PFAF (PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
GO BOTANY
FLORA FINDER
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

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