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Common Name: Touch-Me-Not
Impatiens noli-tangere is an annual plant that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine
Regular ingestion of large quantities of these plants can be dangerous due to their high mineral content[
]. This report, which seems nonsensical, might refer to calcium oxalate. This mineral is found in I. capensis and so is probably also in other members of the genus. It can be harmful raw but is destroyed by thoroughly cooking or drying the plant[
]. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet[
Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia to France, east to Macedonia and temperate Asia.
By streams, wet ground in woods in N. Wales, the Lake District, Yorkshire and Lancashire[
Succeeds in any reasonably good soil[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist well-drained humus rich soil in a cool site[
Self sows in areas where the minimum temperature is no lower than -15°c[
This plant has seed capsules that spring open forcibly as the seed ripens to eject the seed a considerable distance. The capsules are sensitive to touch even before the seed is ripe, making seed collection difficult but fun[
Young shoots - cooked[
]. See the notes above on toxicity.
Seed - raw. A delicious nutty flavour but rather difficult to harvest[
], mainly because of their exploding seed capsules which scatter the ripe seed at the slightest touch[
The plant is antiseptic, diuretic, strongly emetic, laxative and vulnerary[
]. It has been used in the treatment of stranguary and haemorrhoids[
]. The plant is occasionally used internally in the treatment of haemorrhoids and as a laxative and diuretic, but the dose must be carefully adhered to since large quantities are strongly emetic[
]. The plant is harvested at any time in the summer[
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. A period of cold stratification may help to improve germination rates. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
If you have sufficient seed, it is worthwhile trying an outdoor sowing in situ in the spring or the autumn[