Common names in North America include impatiens, jewelweed, touch-me-not, snapweed, and patience. As a rule-of-thumb, “jewelweed” is used exclusively for Nearctic species, and balsam is usually applied to tropical species.

Most Impatiens species are annual or perennial herbs with succulent stems. Only a few woody species exist. Plant size varies depending on the species from five centimeters to 2.5 meters. Stems are often rooting when becoming in contact with the soil. The leaves are entire, often dentate, or sinuate with extrafloral nectaries. Dependent on the species leaves can be thin to succulent. Particularly on the underside of the leaves, tiny air bubbles are trapped over and under the leaf surface, giving them a silvery sheen that becomes pronounced when they are held underwater.


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