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Touch-me-not Balsam

Impatiens noli-tangere

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Balsaminaceae (Balsam)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Meadows, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
Touch-me-not Balsam showcases delicate, pale yellow to orange flowers with vivid red or purple spots, creating a charming spectacle in the British countryside. These blossoms, adorned with their distinct markings, gently sway in the breeze, attracting pollinators like bees and butterflies during the summer and early autumn months. The flowers, with their ephemeral beauty, lend a touch of elegance to the moist woodlands, stream banks, and shaded areas where they flourish. Their dainty petals and intricate details evoke a sense of wonder, making them a delightful sight for nature enthusiasts and gardeners alike.
The fruit of Touch-me-not Balsam is comprised of elongated seed pods that develop following the flowering period. These pods, known as capsules, are characteristically slender and cylindrical, gradually maturing to a pale green or brown hue. Upon reaching maturity, the pods exhibit a remarkable mechanism whereby they explosively burst open upon the slightest touch, propelling the seeds several feet away. This unique trait has earned the plant its evocative name, "Touch-me-not," as the pods seem to recoil from contact. The seeds contained within the capsules are small and numerous, ensuring the plant's ability to disperse and propagate efficiently in its natural habitat of moist woodlands, stream banks, and shaded areas across the British landscape.
The leaves of Touch-me-not Balsam are broadly oval in shape and feature serrated edges, imparting a distinctive appearance to this native British plant. These verdant foliage adornments are arranged alternately along the stems, creating a lush canopy of greenery in shaded woodlands, damp meadows, and streamside habitats across the countryside. The leaves possess a glossy texture and are typically a vibrant shade of green, providing a striking contrast against the delicate flowers that adorn the plant during the summer months. Their presence not only adds to the plant's aesthetic appeal but also serves a vital role in photosynthesis, capturing sunlight to fuel the growth and development of Touch-me-not Balsam throughout its annual life cycle.
Touch-me-not Balsam does not typically possess a pronounced aroma. The plant's focus lies predominantly in its striking visual display, with its vibrant flowers and lush foliage captivating observers. While some individuals may detect a subtle, earthy scent when in close proximity to the plant, its fragrance is generally understated compared to other flowering species. Touch-me-not Balsam relies more on its visual allure and unique characteristics, such as its explosive seed dispersal mechanism, to attract pollinators and admirers alike, rather than relying on a notable aroma.
Other Names:
Garden Balsam, Jewelweed, Western Touch-me-not, Wild Balsam, Yellow Balsam.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Touch-me-not balsam, also known as Impatiens noli-tangere, is a flowering plant that is native to Asia. It is a popular garden plant and is widely cultivated for its showy flowers, which come in a range of colors including red, pink, purple, and white. Touch-me-not balsam is an annual plant that grows up to 1 meter (3 feet) tall. It has hairy stems and leaves and produces clusters of small, bowl-shaped flowers that have five petals. The plant gets its common name, touch-me-not, from the way its seed pods burst open when they are touched or agitated, releasing the seeds. Touch-me-not balsam is easy to grow and is well suited to growing in pots or containers. It is often used as an annual bedding plant in gardens and is also used in traditional medicine.


Touch-me-not Balsam, also known as Impatiens noli-tangere, is a beautiful and versatile annual flower that is native to tropical regions of Asia. It is known for its vibrant, colorful blooms and unique seed pods that explode when touched, hence the name "touch-me-not."

One of the great things about Touch-me-not Balsam is that it is easy to grow and care for. It prefers well-drained soil and partial to full shade, making it a great choice for a shady garden or patio. It can also be grown as a container plant.

The plant can grow up to 2-3 feet tall and produces large, showy flowers in a variety of colors including red, pink, purple, and white. The flowers are typically 1-2 inches in diameter and are borne on long stems, making them great for cut flowers.

In addition to its attractive flowers, Touch-me-not Balsam also has interesting seed pods. As the pods mature, they become filled with seeds that are under pressure. When the pods are touched, they explode, sending the seeds flying in all directions. This is a unique and fascinating feature of the plant.

Touch-me-not Balsam is a great choice for a summer garden or patio. Its colorful flowers and unique seed pods make it a conversation piece, and its easy care makes it a great option for both experienced and novice gardeners.

In addition to its beauty and ease of care, Touch-me-not Balsam is also a great option for gardeners looking for a low-maintenance plant. It is relatively pest and disease-free, and requires little upkeep beyond regular watering and occasional fertilization.

Another benefit of Touch-me-not Balsam is its ability to attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the garden. The bright, colorful flowers are a great source of nectar for these beneficial insects, which can help to support the local ecosystem.

If you're looking to add a splash of color to a shady area of your garden, consider Touch-me-not Balsam. It can be planted in groups for a more dramatic display, or used as a filler plant between other shade-loving plants. It can also be grown in pots and containers, making it a great option for patios and balconies.

One thing to keep in mind is that Touch-me-not Balsam is an annual plant, meaning it will die off after one growing season. However, it will self-seed, so you can expect new plants to come up in the same spot the following year.

Another benefit of Touch-me-not Balsam is its versatility in the garden. It can be used as a border plant, as a filler in a mixed flowerbed, or in a container. Its compact size and mounded habit make it a great choice for hanging baskets or window boxes.

The plant also has a long blooming period, typically from early summer to fall, which makes it a great addition to any garden. It can also be planted in succession to ensure a continuous display of color throughout the summer.

Propagation of Touch-me-not Balsam is also relatively easy. It can be propagated by seed, which can be directly sown in the garden after the last frost, or started indoors about 6-8 weeks before transplanting. It can also be propagated by stem cuttings, which can be taken in spring or summer, and rooted in moist soil or rooting hormone.

In terms of disease and pests, Touch-me-not Balsam is relatively hardy, but can be susceptible to powdery mildew, rust, and leaf spot. These can be prevented by providing proper air circulation, avoiding overcrowding, and not getting the leaves wet when watering.

In summary, Touch-me-not Balsam is a vibrant, versatile, easy-to-grow and low maintenance annual flower that adds color, beauty and interest to any garden, patio, or container. It's perfect for shady areas and its long blooming period, along with its ability to attract pollinators, makes it an ideal addition to any garden. With proper care and adequate spacing, it can be a reliable and long-lasting flower in your garden.

30 Tantalising Touch-me-not Balsam Facts

  1. Impatiens noli-tangere, commonly known as Touch-me-not Balsam or Jewelweed, is a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia.
  2. It belongs to the family Balsaminaceae.
  3. The Latin name "noli-tangere" translates to "do not touch," referencing the plant's seed pods that burst open when touched.
  4. Touch-me-not Balsam is an annual herbaceous plant, completing its life cycle within a year.
  5. It typically grows to a height of 30 to 90 centimeters (12 to 35 inches).
  6. The plant prefers moist, shaded habitats such as woodlands, stream banks, and damp meadows.
  7. Impatiens noli-tangere produces delicate, pale yellow to orange flowers with red or purple spots.
  8. The flowers bloom from mid-summer to early autumn, attracting pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
  9. Its leaves are oval-shaped, toothed, and arranged alternately along the stem.
  10. Touch-me-not Balsam is known for its explosive seed dispersal mechanism, where ripe seed pods burst open upon touch, scattering seeds.
  11. The plant's seeds are dispersed over short distances, aiding its propagation in suitable habitats.
  12. Impatiens noli-tangere is cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens and landscapes for its attractive flowers.
  13. The sap of Touch-me-not Balsam has been used traditionally to treat skin irritations such as poison ivy rash and insect bites.
  14. It is considered an invasive species in some regions due to its ability to spread rapidly and outcompete native vegetation.
  15. The plant is sometimes referred to as "Jewelweed" due to the glistening appearance of water droplets on its leaves.
  16. Touch-me-not Balsam exhibits rapid growth under favorable conditions, forming dense stands in moist environments.
  17. It is adaptable to various soil types but thrives in consistently moist, well-drained soils.
  18. Impatiens noli-tangere is self-pollinating but can also be cross-pollinated by insects.
  19. In folklore, Touch-me-not Balsam is associated with magical properties and protective qualities.
  20. The plant has slender, succulent stems that may become somewhat woody as it matures.
  21. It is valued as a food source for wildlife, including deer, rabbits, and various bird species.
  22. Touch-me-not Balsam is characterized by its resilience and ability to colonize disturbed habitats.
  23. The plant's seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years, contributing to its persistence in the environment.
  24. Impatiens noli-tangere has a relatively short lifespan but can produce abundant seeds, ensuring its survival.
  25. The plant's foliage varies in color from light green to darker shades depending on environmental factors.
  26. Touch-me-not Balsam is sometimes grown in hanging baskets or containers for ornamental purposes.
  27. It is known for its quick germination and establishment, making it a popular choice for gardeners.
  28. In some regions, Touch-me-not Balsam is considered a native wildflower and plays a role in local ecosystems.
  29. The plant's flowers are edible and can be used to garnish salads or as a decorative element in culinary dishes.
  30. Despite its invasive potential, Impatiens noli-tangere is admired for its beauty and ecological significance in certain habitats.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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