When is a weed not a weed? When it’s a gem.
Before I knew it as Jewelweed (impatiens capensis; spotted-touch-me-not), as a kid I referred to it as the Popsie Plant (cute, no?) because of how the oblong seedpods would ‘pop’ when you touched them, exploding their vibrant green seeds everywhere. Little did I know that this was the plot of the plant — employing curious animals like me to help disperse their seeds to ensure future generations.
Jewelweed can be easily identified in summer and fall by its succulent stalk and either vibrant orange or yellow trumpet-shaped blooms. They also attracts a bevvy of some of the most beautiful pollinators out there like bumble bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies because the nectar is perfectly accessible to their long tongues. One of the legends of why it’s called jewelweed is because as water lands on its waxy, water-repellent leaves, it holds the drop’s shape, making them look like a jewels. But as I learned more about the plant, I discovered that it is a true treasure trove.
For starters, its thick stalk can be crushed up and the juice used to treat a variety of skin irritations like insect bites, stings, and can quell the vicious itch of poison ivy! In fact, jewelweed often grows nearby to this delightful shiny-leafed itch-factory, so if you suspect a brush encounter, look around and you may be lucky enough to locate the anecdote (to avoid taking this chance, click HERE for a salve recipe so you can always have it on hand).
Additionally, the lovely little bright green seeds that spring from the pod can be peeled to reveal a robin’s-egg blue seed you can either choose to eat or simply marvel at. The seeds taste like a mix of hemp seeds and pine nuts, and contains omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids.
So the next time you’re itching for treasure, rev up your flower power and scout out some jewelweed!