Jewelweed, ironically also named Touch-Me-Not, is a living salve for virtually every affliction that plagues the skin.
There can be found two varieties of Impatiens: Impatiens capensis, also known as Spotted Touch-Me-Not, and Impatiens pallida, or Pale Touch-Me-Not.
In our neck of the woods, the Pale variety is the most common, but they are said to be equally beneficial.
Growing 3-5 feet tall, this annual can form large colonies in moist, wooded habitats, roadsides and wet open areas.
The stems are hollow and translucent, having an almost succulent quality, and release a slippery juice when crushed.
The flowers are distinctive and unmistakable.
I. capanesis has striking crimson-orange, speckled blooms dangling from thread-like stalks.
Pale Jewelweed has a pale yellow bloom and a throat speckled with reddish-brown spots.
The flowers are enjoyed not only by bees and long-tongued butterflies, but also hummingbirds.
It has a host of colorful names.
Jewelweed describes how water droplets cling to the highly water-repellent leaves, sparkling like little diamonds when touched by the sunlight.
Other names like Quick-in-the-hand, Touch-Me-Not, Snapweed and even the genus name Impatiens describe the unique method of seed dispersal employed by Touch-Me-Nots.
The tissues in their seed pods dry at different rates, creating tension in the seed covering.
These seeds are actually edible, and are said to have a pleasant walnut flavor; although it would take a substantial amount of gathering for even a mouthful.
The tender young shoots up to 8 inches tall can be harvested and boiled for 20 minutes and then eaten. The cooking liquid can be frozen in ice cube trays and used to relieve skin irritations; however you should not ingest it, due to extremely high levels of selenium. For the same reason, Jewelweed should not be eaten raw.
A trip into the woods can be dicey fur us soft-skinned humans. Parasites and irritating plants lurk around every corner, just waiting to make us itch or sting. Luckily Jewelweed is here to help!
It also takes the sting out of Stinging Nettle, and reportedly always grows alongside it (although I haven't personally found this to be true, much to my chagrin).
In addition to Poison Ivy, Stinging Nettle, and insect bites and stings, Jewelweed has the power to soothe fungal infections, burns, cuts, sores, eczema, wounds and bruises.
There are plenty of ways to capture and preserve the healing properties of Jewelweed.
However, a salve is probably the best ready-to-use remedy to have on hand. Here is at least one tutorial on how to make your own:
Historically, it has had a broader range of medicinal uses than those of today, since it is no longer considered safe taken internally.
Native Americans would take an infusion to heal fevers, difficult urination, measles, stomach cramps and jaundice.
The Cherokee would use it as part of a decoction to ease childbirth. The crushed leaves applied to a child's stomach were supposed to be soothing for gastronomic distress.
Jewelweed is lovely enough without the fact that it is a living balm for all that ails the skin. Whether they be orange or yellow, we are lucky to have them at our beck and call when we venture into the woods.
Be sure to join us for next Wednesday's Wildflower!
Click here to read about last week's wildflower: Golden St. John's Wort
Medicinal information herein is shared strictly for anecdotal purposes. Do not attempt to self-medicate with wild herbs. Please consult a doctor first.
Plants for a Future
Cherokee Plants and Their Uses - A 400 Year History - Paul B. Hamel & Mary Chiltoskey
Wildflowers of Tennessee, the Ohio Valley, and the Southern Appalachians - Dennis Horn & Tavia Cathcart
Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places - "Wildman" Steve Brill
All About Tennessee Wildflowers - Jan W. Midgley
Shared on: Green Thumb Thursday, From the Farm Hop, Homestead Blog Hop, Front Porch Friday, Simply Natural Saturdays, Clever Chicks Blog Hop, Thank Goodness It's Monday, Wordless Wednesday, Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop