Herb: Touch-Me-Not

Latin name: Impatiens noli-tangere

Family: Balsaminaceae (Touch-me-not Family)

Medicinal use of Touch-Me-Not:

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.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

By streams, wet ground in woods in N. Wales, the Lake District, Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Edible parts of Touch-Me-Not:

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.

Propagation of the herb:

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.

Cultivation of Touch-Me-Not:

By streams, wet ground in woods in N. Wales, the Lake District, Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Known hazards of Impatiens noli-tangere:

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.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.