Impatiens capensis - spotted touch-me-not

Wetland Indicator status: FACW

General Species Description

Impatiens capensis is a bush size annual herb found during the summer months in facultative wetland areas. The vibrant orange color of the flowers and the large quantity of flowers per bush gives the plant a striking appearance. The stems of the bush are erect and freely branching and the large simple leaves are alternate and bright green in color. The bush deteriorates quickly after the first frost.


The leaves are ovate in shape with highly toothed margins. The tip of the leaf comes to a point.


Impatiens capenis has eye catching bright orange flowers that are composed of three sepals fused to form a tube that extends into a downward curving spur shape. The spur is an outgrowth of the calyx. Brown spots cover both the tube and the upper lip of the interior flower. Some spots may be seen on the exterior of the flower as well.


The fruits are shaped like pea pods and explode to eject the seeds when they are ripe.


Occurs along stream and lake boundaries and in moist woods.


Impatiens capensis is mostly found south of the Columbia River.

Similar Species

Similar species are the yellow touch-me-not (Impatiens noli-tangere) and policemen's helmet (Impatiens glanduliferia) which has redish purple flowers.

Ecological Value


Human Value

May be used as an ornimental.


1) Cooke, S.S.,ed. 1997. A Field Guide to the Common Wetland Plants of Western Washington and Northwest Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society and Washington Native Plant Society. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle WA,pp129.

2) Hitchcock and Cronquist.1973 Flora of the Pacific Northwest University of Washington Press pp289

3)Haywood V.H PHD. 1993. Flowering Plants of the World Oxford University Press New York pp211

This page was created by: Susan Muller, August 2000

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