Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a annual which can reach 60 inches in height. The stem is somewhat translucent.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Leaves can reach 3.5 inches in length. Each leaf is toothed, thin, glaucous on the underside and may be partly ciliate.
Flowers: The flowers are irregular in shape and are about 1 inch long. They are orange and yellow with darker splotches. Blooms first appear in early summer and continue into late summer. The flowers have a wet, delicate appearance. The sack like back of the flower is actually the larger of three sepals which has a turned down spur to 0.4" long.
Fruit: A dehiscent capsule that pops open at maturity dispersing the seeds.
Habitat: Low or moist openings in woods and bottom lands.
Range: From the Rocky Mountains east and in the Pacific Northwest.
Medical Uses: Juice used to treat many types of skin eruptions and injuries and is especially touted as a cure and even a preventative for poison ivy. The Cherokees would rub "the juice of seven blossoms" on the rash. They also used the plant as an ingredient in an aid in childbirth and as a tea to treat measles.
-From 2bn The Wild.com
Fun Stuff: Children LOVE the seeds of jewelweed. Pick the seed capsule off the plant, rub it between your fingers and POP! The seeds should shoot out. Depending on the ripeness of the capsule, the seeds could shoot out with just a brush of your hand; hence the name "Touch-me-not." Also, if you are by a creek, pick off a leaf and put it under the water (bottom side up); the oils of the jewelweed produce a very pretty, silver shimmery color that glistens in the water.
Here is a sonnet by Sir Thomas Wyatt, about his beloved untouchable Anne Boleyn. The latin term "Noli me tangere" translates into "Touch-me-not."
'Whoso List to Hunt, I Know Where Is An Hind'
By Sir Thomas Wyatt
Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.