I made a quick visit to our local nature center last weekend. I was on a quest for a patch of touch-me-nots, silver-cap, wild balsam, lady’s eardrops, ear-jewels, pocketdrops, snapweeds, slipperweeds, wild lady’s slippers, silver-leaf, speckled jewels, silverweed, quick-in-the-hand, wild or brook celandine, solentine, snapdragons, shining-grass, clowslips, weather-cocks, or kicking colt. In other words, jewelweed.
As you can imagine, all these colorful names relate to descriptions and characteristics of the flowers, leaves and seedpods of this lovely late summer bloom.
I found a large patch along my favorite trail down by the trout stream. This native annual likes a moist, damp soil, along streams, ponds and marshlands. It also attracts the hummingbirds and helps sustain them as they begin their southern migration in the autumn. I didn’t see any hummingbirds yet this year, since it is still a little early, but there were lots of bees. I caught this fat fellow squeezing into the flower opening to get to the nectar deep inside.
Jewelweeds are native North America flowers, their botanical name is impatiens biflora and are related to your garden variety impatiens walleriana which goes by the lovely nickname of Busy Lizzie – not native.
Looks-wise, there aren’t a lot of similarities, but both have a spur at the back of the flower and the seed pods look and have the same characteristics. Just take a look at the 2 photos above for comparison.
This is the best part of the plant and one of my favorite childhood pasttimes. It is advantageous for this plant to spread it’s seeds in as wide an area as possible so to do so, the seed pod splits open and curls up throwing the seeds out on the near by ground. I used to have great fun (and still do) gently tugging on a fat seed bud and watching it burst open spilling it’s seeds. This is where the name Touch-Me-Not came from. If you don’t have access to jewelweed, try it with your windowbox impatiens when they begin to go to seed. The hybrid seedpods react in exactly the same way.
For centuries, jewelweed has been used as a treatment for poison ivy and poison oak by crushing the stem and rubbing it into the affected area, though there is no medical proof that it is anything but a placebo.
It’s been a while for me, but I’ve decided to enter this last photo of my favorite late summer flower in Gardening Gone Wild’s September photo competition. It’s really wonderful to see all the beautiful photos and visit a lot of different gardening blogs and I feel that I’ve learned a good deal from the comments of the various judges.