Also called Spotted Touch-Me-Not or Jewelweed. Very similar to the Yellow or Pale Touch-Me Not (I. pallida), and often found in the same colony. Most of the differences are subtle; I. capensis tends to have smaller, darker leaves, often with a noticeable bluish tinge. The flowers, however, leave no doubt about the species: the bright orange of I. capensis is instantly obvious. Since the flowers bloom from late June to the first frost, we can rely on them to identify the plant. These were blooming at the edge of a field near Cranberry in late August.
The specific name capensis is unfortunate. The botanist who named it thought the specimen came from the Cape Colony in Africa. The names Impatiens fulva and I. biflora were current for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; but the inflexible rule of priority has asserted the rights of the name capensis, however wrongheaded it may be.
Gray describes the genus and the species:
IMPATIENS [Rivinius] L. BALSAM, JEWELWEED. Sepals apparently only 4; the anterior one notched at the apex (probably two combined); the posterior one (appearing anterior as the flower hangs on its stalk) largest, and forming a usually spurred sac. Petals 2, 2-lobed (each a pair united). Filaments appendaged with a scale on the inner side, the б scales connivent over the stigma; anthers introrse. Pod with evanescent partitions, and a thick axis bearing several anatropous seeds; valves 6, coiling elastically and projecting the seeds in dehiscence. — Leaves in ours ovate or oval, coarsely toothed, petioled. Flowers axillary or panicled, often of two sorts, viz., the larger ones which seldom ripen seeds; and very small ones which are fertilized early in the bud, their floral envelopes never expanding but forced off by the growing pod and carried upward on its apex. (Name from the sudden bursting of the pods when touched, whence also the popular appellation.)
I. biflora Walt. (SPOTTED TOUCH-ME-NOT.) Flowers orange-color, thickly spotted with reddish brown; sac longer than broad, acutely conical, tapering into a strongly inflexed spur half as long as the sac. (I. fulva Nutt) — Rills and shady moist places. June-Sept. —Plant 6-8 dm. nigh. Forms with spotless, whitish, or roseate flowers have been found.