Orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis, Balsaminaceae) can be found throughout much of North America. Most common in wet areas with rich organic soil, this plant can reach five feet in height under ideal growing conditions. The leggy stems branch occasionally and harbor dull green leaves with wide teeth, but it’s the bright orange flowers that make this plant stand out.
Each flower is composed of two upper petals and three lower petals framing a deep, cavernous interior. Insect pollinators have to crawl inside to reach the nectar. Along the way they brush past the flower’s reproductive organs at the opening. As they move from flower to flower, the unwittingly spread pollen to different plants, helping to fertilize them.
In autumn the fertilized flowers develop into seed capsules. When ripe these capsules have a tendency to burst, especially when touched. For that reason this plant is also called spotted touch-me-not.