Orange yellow spotted with reddish brown.
Flowers: clustered; axillary; nodding from thread-like flower-stalks. Calyx: of four petal-like, unequal sepals; the larger one extending backwards into a sac which tapers into a little spur. Corolla: of two petals that are two-lobed. Stamens: five; cohering about the ovary. Pistil: one. Leaves: alternate; on petioles; ovate; smooth and serrated. Stems: much branched; smooth; tender.
The jewel-weed and a bright running stream have come to be about as closely associated in the mind as the dear old white horse and the red-haired girl. Now there is no doubt whatever but that they do at times appear singly, only the chances are all in favour of finding them together. Probably they are linked by some bond of sympathy far too subtle for the perceptions of common-place mortals. The flower is more beautiful than many of our choicest exotics; and the gracefulness of its growth cannot be exceeded. Early and late its leaves are hung with dew drops as though they and the water were having some friendly chat. The jewel-like marking of velvet brown is undoubtedly for the purpose of catching Master Bee's eye, as these showy flowers are dependent upon insects for fertilization. Their pollen falls long before the stigma is ready to receive it. The plant also bears cleistogamous flowers, those inconspicuous blossoms of the later year that are self-fertilized before the bud opens.
The pods are particularly sensitive to the touch, and if handled will burst open and throw the seeds to a considerable distance. To this fact is due the significance of the name touch-me-not, or n'y touchez pas, as the French say.
Smerinthus Yenimatus is the name of the moth hovering about the flowers in the illustration.
This species is more common throughout the north than the I. biflora. Its jewel-like marking is very slight, and its colour is a pale, greenish yellow. The flowers are often an inch and a half long. Both species fade very quickly after being plucked.