Impatiens capensis - Meerb.
Orange Jewelweed
Other English Common Names: Jewelweed, Spotted Jewel-weed
Other Common Names: orange jewelweed
Synonym(s): Impatiens biflora Walt.
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Impatiens capensis Meerb. (TSN 29182)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.130664
Element Code: PDBAL01040
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Other flowering plants
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Geraniales Balsaminaceae Impatiens
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Impatiens capensis
Taxonomic 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).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 13May2016
Global Status Last Changed: 02May1988
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: 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.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (10Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNR), Alaska (SU), Arkansas (SNR), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNR), Delaware (S5), District of Columbia (S5), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S5), Idaho (SNR), Illinois (SNR), Indiana (SNR), Iowa (S5), Kansas (SNR), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (SNR), Maine (SNR), Maryland (SNR), Massachusetts (SNR), Michigan (SNR), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (SNR), Missouri (SNR), Nebraska (SNR), New Hampshire (SNR), New Jersey (S5), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (SNR), Oregon (SNR), Pennsylvania (SNR), Rhode Island (SNR), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (SNR), Tennessee (SNR), Texas (SNR), Vermont (SNR), Virginia (S5), Washington (SNR), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (SNR)
Canada Alberta (S4), British Columbia (S4), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Newfoundland Island (S4S5), Northwest Territories (SNR), Nova Scotia (S5), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (S5), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S4)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: 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).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences 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.

Population Size Comments: Because it is an annual, and normally has one stem emergence and one taproot, the convenient counting unit for I. capensis is the individual plant.

Overall Threat Impact 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.).

Short-term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Short-term Trend 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.

Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: Wetlands plant; sensitive to hydrological changes. 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).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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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).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, COexotic, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK

Range Map
No map available.

Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Impatiens capensis is an orange-red or yellow flowered annual herb of moist areas. Its stems and leaves are hairless and somewhat succulent, and stems rarely exceed 1.5m in height. Ripe seedpods suddenly hurl their seeds forward when touched, thus the common name "touch-me-not" (Gleason and Cronquist 1963).
Ecology Comments: 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).
Habitat 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).
Economic Attributes
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Economically Important Genus: Y
Economic Uses: FOOD, MEDICINE/DRUG, OTHER USES/PRODUCTS
Production Method: Wild-harvested
Economic 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)
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Impatiens capensis is a wetland species for the most part. Thus, populations tend to be separated by upland habitat. As upland habitat is increasingly predominant on the landscape as one moves west of the Great Lakes or Mississippi River regions, one can expect populations to become more widely scattered (an assertion supported by county occurrence maps (USDA-NRCS 1999). Also, within much of its range, wetlands and natural areas are mostly separated by urban development or intensive agriculture, and these areas will effectively serve as population separations for I. capensis.


Date: 21Jan2000
Author: Spackman, S.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 21Jan2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Susan Spackman, David Anderson, and Steve Thomas (1/00); rev. Eric Nielsen (1/00)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Antlfinger, A. E. 1989. Seed bank, survivorship, and size distribution of a Nebraska population of Impatiens capensis (Balsaminaceae). American Journal of Botany 76(2):222-230.

  • Cody, W.J. 1988. Plants of Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba. Agriculture Canada, Publication 1818/E, Ottawa ON.

  • Culver, D. R. and J. M. Lemly. 2013a. Field Guide to Colorado's Wetland Plants. Colorado Natural Heritage Program. Colorado State University. 694 pp.

  • Douglas, G.W., G.B. Straley, and D. Meidinger, eds. 1998. Rare Native Vascular Plants of British Columbia. Conserv. Data Centre, Resour. Inventory Branch, B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria, and B.C. Minist. For., Victoria.

  • Douglas, G.W., G.D. Straley, D. Meidinger, and J. Pojar, eds. 1998. Illustrated Flora of British Columbia, Vol. 2, Dicotyledons (Balsaminaceae through Cucurbitaceae). B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, and B.C. Minist. For. Res. Program. 401pp.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1963. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. D. Van Nostrand Company, New York, NY. 810 pp.

  • Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

  • Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. 1402 pp.

  • Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence. 1392 pp.

  • Herbarium, Department of Botany, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

  • Herbarium, Museum of Man and Nature, 190 Rupert Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

  • Hulten, E. 1968. Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA.

  • Hulten, E. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories. Stanford Univ. Press, Palo Alto, CA. 1008 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Niering, W.A. and N.C. Olmstead. 1979. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York. 887 pp.

  • Peterson, L. 1977a. A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, Massachusetts. 330 p. + plates.

  • Peterson, L.A. 1977. A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, Eastern/Central North America. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 330 pp.

  • Scoggan, H.J. 1957. Flora of Manitoba. National Museum of Canada, Bulletin number 140.

  • Scoggan, H.J. 1978. The Flora of Canada. National Museum of Natural Sciences, National Museum of Canada, Publ. in Botany 7(4).

  • Swink, F., and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region. Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 1999. November 3-last update. The PLANTS database. Online. Available: http://plants.usda.gov/plants. Accessed 2000-Jan.

  • Weber, W. A. and R. C. Wittmann. 1992. Catalog of The Colorado Flora: A Biodiversity Baseline. University Press of Colorado, Niwot, CO.

  • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 1992. Catalog of the Colorado flora: A biodiversity baseline. University Press of Colorado, Niwot. 215 pp.

  • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 1996b. Colorado flora: Western slope. Univ. Press of Colorado, Niwot, Colorado. 496 pp.

  • Weber, William A. and Ronald C. Wittmann. 1996. Colorado Flora: Eastern Slope.

  • Weiner, M.A. 1980. Earth Medicine Earth Food. Ballantine Books, New York. 230 pp.

  • Weiner, M.A. 1980. Earth Medicine Earth Food. Ballantine Books, New York. 230 pp.

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