It gets its name from the leaves, which when submerged under water have a silvery sheen. It grows from 3 to 5 feet tall. The flowers are orange (or rarely yellow) with a three-lobed corolla; one of the calyx lobes is colored similarly to the corolla and forms a hooked conical spur at the back of the flower. Plants may also produce non-showy cleistogamous flowers, which do not require cross-pollination. The stems are somewhat translucent, succulent, and have swollen or darkened nodes (on only some plants). The seed pods are pendant and have projectile seeds that explode out of the pods when they are lightly touched, if ripe, which is where the name 'touch-me-not' comes from.
It is common in bottomland soils, ditches, and along creeks. Blooms from late spring to early fall.