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Pale Touch-me-not Impatiens pallida


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Pale Touch-me-not
credit: SB_Johnny/CCSA

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Alternate name: Jewelweed

Family: Balsaminaceae, Touch-me-not view all from this family

Description A tall leafy plant with succulent, translucent stems bearing nodding, usually pale yellow flowers occasionally splotched with reddish brown.
Habit: native annual herb; upright, branched, semi-succulent, hollow, smooth stems, watery inside; fibrous roots.
Height: 2-6 ft (0.6-1.8 m)
Leaf: alternate, long, thin, soft, elliptic to ovate, pointed, coarsely toothed; 1-4 in (2.5-10 cm) long, to 2 in (5 cm) wide; on stalk to 3 in (7.5 cm) long.
Flower: pale yellow or cream, funnel- or tube-shaped, spurred, 3 visible parts; to 1.5 in (4 cm) long; on slender, drooping stalk from leaf axil; 2-4 per plant.
Fruit: capsule, narrowly oblong, green, smooth, to 1 1/4 inches long, containing dark brown seeds.

Flower May to October.

Habitat Moist to wet sites: Low woods, swamps, stream banks, wet meadows, disturbed sites; often on mountainsides in wet, shady, limestone or neutral sites.

Range Eastern North America, from Ontario east to Nova Scotia, south to Georgia, west to Oklahoma, and north to North Dakota; not reported in Mississippi or Louisiana.

Discussion Also known as the pale jewelweed. Listed as "of special concern" in Maine. This soft-stemmed annual is less common than the very similar Spotted Touch-me-not (I. capensis). The sensitive triggering of seeds from the ripe capsule inspired these species (as well as the family's) common name, touch-me-not.

Policemans Hat (I. glandulifera), a large, purple-flowered species with mostly whorled or opposite leaves, is found from Ontario east to Nova Scotia and south to Massachusetts.