Pitcher Plant Family
Water Lily Family
Water Plantian Family
Read More Articles About: Wildflower Families
( Originally Published 1908 )
JEWEL-WEED. SO far as the United States is concerned this is a small family, having the single genus to which our common Wild Balsams or Jewel-weeds belong. These are often called Touch-me-nots, on account of the curious way in which the seed pods burst when disturbed. They are also sometimes called Silver-leaf on account of the beautiful coloring of the leaves. These plants are commonly to be found in damp, shady localities where the soil is rich, being especially abundant along the margins of slow-running streams and ponds and swamps. If you will look at the plants early in the morning, before the sunshine has evaporated the dewy pendants hanging from the margins of the leaves, you will appreciate the significance of the name Jewel-weed; while if you will touch a ripening seed pod you will also appreciate the significance of the name Touch-me-not, or its Latin equivalent Impatiens.
The flowers also are of decided interest, for they appear to be especially adapted to pollination by bumble-bees, although they are freely visited by humming-birds. A little study of their structure will show how cross-pollination is brought about by either of these visitors. It is easy also to see how perfectly the nectar is protected from unbidden guests by the pendant position of the blossom as well as by the tubular nectary in which it is secreted.
There are two species of these Jewel-weeds-the Fulvous or Spotted Jewel-weed and the Pale Jewel-weed. The latter has the larger flowers and is the more northern form.