By: Lisa Craddock
Beginning this month, I’ll be doing a series of articles on weeds as a result of a year-long (February-November 2023) Weed Specialization Class I’m taking through the Franklin County Master Gardener Program. One requirement for the class is to put together an educational component which I’ve asked the MPCA to share 1 weed/month during growing season with our community of Minerva Park through our monthly newsletter. I’ll also be posting on my FB page.
This August we are highlighting Jewelweed. So named because when the leaf is placed in water, it is said to appear covered with Pave Diamonds!
LATIN: Impatiens capensis (orange flower) Impatiens pallida (yellow flower)
COMMON: Touch Me Not. When ripe, the seed capsule explodes when touched, propelling 4-5 green seeds four to six feet through the air. On a personal note, several years ago, I enjoyed watching a couple adult individuals in MP squealing with delight as they touched the flowers and were rewarded with the slingshot of seeds through the air!
ENVIRONMENT: Prefers shady, moist areas, not picky about soil.
DESCRIPTION: A self-seeder with 2-5’ succulent stems with oval, blue-green coarsely margined leaves. The 1” unscented flower, which blooms mid-summer must be cross pollinated to bear the toxic fruit, has 5 petals with 3 sepals and 5 stamens in a cornucopia shape with a nectar spur. Both yellow and orange are likely to have reddish spots. May also have small inconspicuous self-fertilizing flowers at the leaf base.
WILDLIFE: The Jewelweed has few pests, though deer may graze the plant. Bumblebees and other long-tongued bees, butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy the nectar, while mice and birds eat the seeds.
MEDICINALLY: Jewelweed is used to calm itchy skin and is an antagonist to urushiol, the irritant substance in Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac. To rub the leaves and stem on body prior to contact (or after) with these plants will counteract the effects of these poison plants.
CULINARY: Reviews are mixed, citing tasty walnut flavored seeds and flowers not recommended for consumption because of their high oxalic content. This is not an invitation to eat this plant.