Springseed Yellow. Impatiens parviflora, Smallflower Touch-me-not, Pfannenstiel Mountain, above Männedorf, Lake Zurich, Switzerland
For years I've been tryng to get a good photo of Impatiens parviflora with my less than professional cameras. Hundreds of attempts but never successful enough. The problems are in the relatively complicated depth layers of the flower (DOF is very hard to achieve); and in the very, very delicate yellow that mostly photographs as too orange in the shade - the preferred habitat - or is else bleached out in almost any kind of Sunlight. Now on Pfannenstiel Mountain overlooking Lake Zurich, my camera caught Touch-me-not well enough to post.
Today this Impatiens is found all over Europe mostly in damp, shady areas. But this is something of rather recent times. In the Netherlands around the end of the nineteenth century it was still relatively rare, and this is the case in other European countries as well. When that great French botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle (1778-1841) gave a first scientific description in 1824, he writes that it occurs in the upper reaches of the Irtysh River which flows northward out of the Altay Mountains (Mongolia, China) through Kazakhstan to western Siberia. At least, that's what his great industrialist friend Jules Paul Benjamin Delessert (1773-1847) - also an ardent amateur naturalist with a huge herbarium and, incidentally, an authority on refining beet sugar (remember bortsch!) - had told him. By the mid-twentieth century Impatiens parviflora had become naturalised all over Europe.
The Dutch name for it is, I think, rather more imaginative than the English 'Touch-me-not'. 'Touch-me-not' sounds so stand-offish. In Dutch it's called 'Klein' or 'Klein-bloemig Springzaad'. This name refers to an uncanny and rather cute phenomenon: the ripe seed pods snap or spring open quite suddenly at even the lightest touch. Enough to startle the unaware. The mechanics of this are fascinating; go out and see for yourself!
The flowers are 6-9 mm across.