Monday, May 25, 2009

100 Species #2 Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)

Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is also known as spotted touch-me-not. This incredible plant is usually found near posion ivy and stinging nettle. This is very important to know because the juice from jewelweed's crushed leaves can stop posion ivy itch and stinging nettle burn. Also, it can be used as a preventitive to posion ivy; should you touch poision ivy, crush up a jewelweed leaf and apply it to the area.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a annual which can reach 60 inches in height. The stem is somewhat translucent.
Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Leaves can reach 3.5 inches in length. Each leaf is toothed, thin, glaucous on the underside and may be partly ciliate.
Flowers: The flowers are irregular in shape and are about 1 inch long. They are orange and yellow with darker splotches. Blooms first appear in early summer and continue into late summer. The flowers have a wet, delicate appearance. The sack like back of the flower is actually the larger of three sepals which has a turned down spur to 0.4" long.
Fruit: A dehiscent capsule that pops open at maturity dispersing the seeds.
Habitat: Low or moist openings in woods and bottom lands.
Range: From the Rocky Mountains east and in the Pacific Northwest.
Medical Uses: Juice used to treat many types of skin eruptions and injuries and is especially touted as a cure and even a preventative for poison ivy. The Cherokees would rub "the juice of seven blossoms" on the rash. They also used the plant as an ingredient in an aid in childbirth and as a tea to treat measles.
-From 2bn The

Fun Stuff: Children LOVE the seeds of jewelweed. Pick the seed capsule off the plant, rub it between your fingers and POP! The seeds should shoot out. Depending on the ripeness of the capsule, the seeds could shoot out with just a brush of your hand; hence the name "Touch-me-not." Also, if you are by a creek, pick off a leaf and put it under the water (bottom side up); the oils of the jewelweed produce a very pretty, silver shimmery color that glistens in the water.

Here is a sonnet by Sir Thomas Wyatt, about his beloved untouchable Anne Boleyn. The latin term "Noli me tangere" translates into "Touch-me-not."

'Whoso List to Hunt, I Know Where Is An Hind'
By Sir Thomas Wyatt

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,

But as for me, hélas, I may no more.

The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,

I am of them that farthest cometh behind.

Yet may I by no means my wearied mind

Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore

Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,

Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.

Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,

As well as I may spend his time in vain.

And graven with diamonds in letters plain

There is written, her fair neck round about:

Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,

And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.


Sharna said...

Thanks so much for the post on jewelweed! I have played with it my whole life and have always been fascinated by it but until yesterday when I was poking around a nature guide I NEVER knew the name! Imagine my surprise when the first blog entry I read was all about jewelweed!!! I will try the tip about puttting the leaves in water.... My kids will love that!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely sonnet. And fun post! Can't wait to be home to start our own explorations :-)

Sherry Gann said...

fascinating post, Lisa. We'll have to be on the lookout for this amazing plant. :)

Ute said...

I love this post. But then, I love all your posts. :)

Juana said...

Hi Lisa and little ladies! Your posts about nature and little things that happens everyday around you, have the power to make me look at them in a diferent way. Dandelions, butterflies, and a humble plant called "impaziente" in italian, with a beautiful name as "jewelweed" will never be the same for me!
Thanks for the fresh air breeze you gift me with every your post!

renee @ FIMBY said...

This is a great post. I love Jewelweed's beautiful orange blossoms and have read much about it's skin healing properties but have yet to try it out. Backyard herbalists may interested in a few plants they can look for or plant in their backyards: