Friday Florals: Impatiens



Impatiens are such a showy flower.

Some species are annual plants and produce flowers from early summer until the first frost, whileperennial species, found in milder climates, can flower all year. Regardless of their lifespan, the largest impatiens grow up to about 2 meters (about 7 feet) tall, but most are less than half as tall. The leaves are entire and shiny; their upperside has a thick, water-repellent cuticula that gives them a greasy feel. Particularly on the underside of the leaves, tiny air bubbles are trapped over and under the leaf surface, giving them a silvery sheen that becomes pronounced when they are held under water.

The flowers, up to 2–3 cm, around 1 inch long, in most species are made up by a shoe- or horn-shaped spur for the most part, with at least the upper petals insignificant by comparison; some have a prominent labellum though, allowing pollinators to land. Others, like the busy lizzie (I. walleriana), have flattened flowers with large petals and just a tiny spur that appear somewhat similar to those of violets (Viola), an unrelated genus. A few Impatiens species have flowers intermediate between the two basic types.

The scientific name Impatiens (Latin for “impatient”) and the common name “touch-me-not” refer to the explosive dehiscence of the seed capsules. The mature capsules burst, sending seeds up to several meters away.

My mother loved these plants and due to the fact that Auckland’s climate was rather mild, we had them blooming all year round.   Even if we had some frosts, they always seem to bounce back.

But I didn’t know that they had some medicinal uses:

Impatiens contain 2-methoxy-1,4-naphthoquinone, an anti-inflammatory and fungicide naphthoquinone that is an active ingredient in some formulations of Preparation H.[4]

North American impatiens have been used as herbal remedies for the treatment of bee stings, insect bites, and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) rashes. They are also used afterpoison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) contact to prevent a rash from developing. The efficacy of orange jewelweed (I. capensis) and yellow jewelweed (I. pallida) in preventing poison ivy contact dermatitis has been studied, with conflicting results.[5] A study in 1958 found that Impatiens biflora was an effective alternative to standard treatment for dermatitis caused by contact with sumac,[6] while later studies[7][8][9] found that the species had no antipruritic effects after the rash has developed. Researchers reviewing these contradictions[5] state that potential reason for these conflicts include the method of preparation and timing of application. A 2012 study found that while an extract of orange jewelweed and garden jewelweed (I. balsamina) was not effective in reducing contact dermatitis, a mash of the plants applied topically decreased it.[10]

Or that it was called Snapweed in other countries:

Common names include impatiens, jewelweed, touch-me-not, snapweed, and, for I. walleriana in Great Britain, “busy lizzie”, as well as, ambiguously, balsam. As a rule-of-thumb, “jewelweed” is used exclusively for Nearctic species, “balsam” is usually applied to tropical species, and “touch-me-not” is typically used in Europe and North America.[2]

Friday's Florals

Thanks for visiting.

Copyright Raewyn Forbes


8 thoughts on “Friday Florals: Impatiens”

  1. Great post Raewyn. We have impatiens growing along our fence line, and tend to treat them as a pretty weed. I do like that there are always flowers, and they are amazingly good to photograph! I had no idea of their medicinal properties, so thanks for that. Happy Friday. Cheers, Su.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the feeling of being in a time warp or machine, Raewyn, when you’re talking about it being Friday while it’s not even Thursday night here. 🙂 Is “Friday Florals” a challenge of some sort of just something you do, the way I do “Wordless Wednesday” sometimes?


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought it could a new challenge – Friday’s Florals. I just wanted something a bit fresher. Same with my Wordless Wednesday. You are welcome to join in and use my logo. Thanks for noticing.


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