Impatiens comprises more than 1000 species and is one of the largest genera of flowering plants. The genus has a subcosmopolitan distribution, yet most of its evolutionary history is unknown. Diversification analyses, divergence time estimates and historical biogeography, illustrated that the extant species of Impatiens originated in Southwest China and started to diversify in the Early Miocene. Until the Early Pliocene, the net diversification rate within the genus was fairly slow. Since that time, however, approximately 80% of all Impatiens lineages have originated. This period of rapid diversification coincides with the global cooling of the Earth's climate and subsequent glacial oscillations. Without this accelerated diversification rate, Impatiens would only have contained 1/5th of its current number of species, thereby indicating the rapid radiation of the genus.