Orange Jewelweed Prepares to Explode!

OK, you have to admit that plants are really cool. For instance, take orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). This plant is in the genus Impatiens in the Touch-Me-Not plant family (Balsaminaceae). Why do they call it touch-me-not, you ask? Well, watch this YouTube video by user “thelifeofyourtime” to see for yourself! They call this dispersal technique “explosive dehiscence,” which mean that the fruits open by exploding, casting the seeds far from the parent plant.

Orange jewelweed flowers also have a long spur at the back. This spur stores nectar, which is a reward for the pollinators that visit its flowers. Common pollinators include Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds and long-tongued bees, both of which are able to access the nectar through the “mouth” of the flower. Other bees will also visit these flowers, but instead of going through the front to get the nectar, they will drill a hole into the spur and steal the nectar. The jewelweed is robbed because the bee gets the nectar from the flower, but doesn’t give any pollinator services in return! Check out the long spur on this flower I found at Bear Creek Nature Park this week. I didn’t get a good look at the picture on my camera screen, so sorry for the really fuzzy picture.

The spur on an Orange Jewelweed flower. The picture is fuzzy, but you can get the idea.
The spur on an Orange Jewelweed flower. The picture is fuzzy, but you can get the idea.

Here is a look at the entrance to the flower.

Orange jewelweed has beautiful flowers, with red spots on the orange flower.
Orange jewelweed has beautiful flowers, with red spots on the orange flower.

And a picture of a patch of Orange Jewelweed in moist woods at Bear Creek Nature Park.

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Orange Jewelweed grows in a variety of habitats, but is very common in many moist forests and some wetlands.

Orange Jewelweed started flowering this past week, and will continue to flower for about a month. Check it out!

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About Ben VanderWeide

I am the Natural Areas Stewardship Manager for Oakland Township Parks and Recreation in southeast Michigan. I have a doctorate in biology (focused on plant ecology) and I am passionate about protecting and managing natural areas.

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