Tuesday, August 30, 2022

And there in the woods...

Spotted Jewelweed or Touch-Me-Not
(Impatiens capensis)

There is a whole thicket of these colorful critters flowering along the creek in the woods, and we (Beau and I) were happy to find them in bloom this past weekend.

Jewelweed is a wild North American herbal with known medicinal benefits, and it has been widely used by indigenous groups for centuries. They used infusions made with the leaves to treat measles and fevers, poultices of bruised stems for the pain and itching of skin ailments like poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Jewelweed contains compounds which neutralize uroshiol, the chemical causing contact dermatitis. The plant is a fine, effective and illustrious addition to one's wild medicine chest.

Jewelweed is also an important nectar source for hummingbirds, and they are usually about when it is in bloom. When the hummers reach into the bell-shaped blooms with their long beaks and brush up against nearby seed pods, the drupes explode, propelling their freight some distance into the air, hence the common name, Touch-Me-Not.

Although an annual, jewelweed is persistent and prolific. For years, I cultivated it in my garden, and because of its exploding seed pods, the plant came up everywhere. Keeping it in check was quite an undertaking. Having said that, I have just harvested seeds from the thicket in the woods and am about to give the species another try. It is cheerful stuff, and I like the freckled faces on the flowers when the plants are in bloom. In addition to being a "tried and true" wild medicinal, jewelweed also provides nourishment for hummers, bees and other insects, and that makes it a clear winner in my book.


Pienosole said...

🧡 Beautiful!

Mystic Meandering said...

I had no idea about jewel weed! How fascinating! Your woods have so much "magic" in them :)