Jewelweed

Volume 7, Issue 154; 27 Aug 2004; last modified 08 Oct 2010

I became enchanted with Jewelweed (also known as “touch-me-not”) before I was in the first grade. Then we moved away from New England and I didn’t see it again for the better part of two decades. By the time I encountered it again, it was a hazy childhood memory.

Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.

William Shakespeare

I became enchanted with Jewelweed (also known as “touch-me-not” for reasons that will become clear momentarily) before I was in the first grade. Then we moved away from New England and I didn’t see it again for the better part of two decades. By the time I encountered it again, it was a hazy childhood memory.

Jewelweed Blossoms
Jewelweed Blossoms
Jewelweed Blossom
Jewelweed Blossom

Jewelweed, a member of the Impatiens family, is a small, bushy plant that likes wet soil. The nearby patch grows right along a little creek. When in bloom, it displays a profusion of small orange flowers.

A little googling this morning reveals that they’re much liked by hummingbirds, so I’ll be scattering some seeds this fall in an attempt to bring Jewelweed into the garden. I fear the flower beds won’t be moist enough, but I’ll try. Scattering the seeds is going to be really easy.

The quality of Jewelweed that seemed magical to me at age 5 or so, and still tickles me quite a bit, is its mechanism of seed distribution. Ripe Jewelweed seed pods are exceptionally fragile. The slightest touch causes them to “explode,” scattering seeds over a space of several feet at least.

If you trap one of the seed pods in your fingertips (no easy feat if the pod is really ripe, which the one below was not) and release it slowly, you can watch the pod unzip itself and collapse into a little ball.

Jewelweed Seed Pod
Jewelweed Seed Pod

Put the slightest pressure on the pod

Unzip!
Unzip!

and it unzips down one or more “seams.”

Curl!
Curl!

Then the pod begins to curl

Flip!
Flip!

and twist

Twist!
Twist!

and flings the seeds a considerable distance.

Jewelweed Seed
Jewelweed Seed

Unrestrained, the whole process takes a small fraction of a second. The little black seed is from a riper pod that exploded before I could even get my fingers around it.

I can’t quite imagine what biological process produces the tension in the seed pod, but it sure works.

Comments

Wow, I never knew people like that stuff. I am trying to get rid of it as it has taken over a big section of my yard. Anyone know how to get rid of Jewelweed? Sure would appreciate any help.

—Posted by Beth on 06 Jun 2006 @ 10:43 UTC #

Dear Beth,

You might want to rethink getting rid of your jewelweed. It really is a jewel!. I wish I had some in my yard. It is a natural combatant to poison ivy. Once contracting the ivy oil, you can open a jewelweed plant, rub the sap on the affected area, and it usually clears it up and prevents a spread. But where there is jewelweed, there is poison ivy, so watch out! You may be able to dry and sell the seeds as some people look to plant the jewels in their yard for the above-mentioned medicinal reasons.

See this website if you don't believe me. http://altnature.com/jewelweed.htm

Thanks.

~db from Cleveland, OH

PS. If you lived close enough, I'd come pull the plant up for you and try to transplant it to my yard. (0:

#Wow, I never knew people like that stuff. I am trying to get rid of it as it has taken over a big section of my yard. Anyone know how to get rid of Jewelweed? Sure would appreciate any help.

—Posted by danielle on 14 Aug 2006 @ 04:30 UTC #

Thank you so much for the information. I have been trying to find out what these flowers were in my yard. Unlike most people, my husband and myself think the flowers are beautiful. We are going to be getting seeds from the current plants to spread around our entire fence area next spring. I do not like poison ivy very much and have 2 small children. I think it will be nice to have around. We are also avid campers, so I think this will come into use. Thanks again.

—Posted by Kendra on 13 Sep 2006 @ 07:05 UTC #

I am searching for a source of jewelweed seeds and have found none! A member of my family is terribly allergic to poison ivy, plus we're "going herbal" and getting ready to plant a huge herb garden in the spring. Do you have any idea where I can order them? Thanks!

—Posted by Pete on 24 Sep 2006 @ 02:35 UTC #

Can comeone contact me I'd like to get some of the plants, maybe you can mail them to me, and I can plant them, or can you tell me where to buy them, I remember as a kid, playing with them at Grandma's house and wanted to share them with my kids. Grandma's not with us any more. juliacb@comcast.net

—Posted by Julia on 17 Dec 2006 @ 05:15 UTC #

If anyone has any Jewelweed I would love to purchase some for my yard.PLants or Seed. I have been looking and came across this information.

Thanks Betty in North Carolina

—Posted by Betty Lamm on 31 Dec 2007 @ 03:35 UTC #

pleeeeez tell me where to order jewel weed seeds!!!!!!!

—Posted by rob in virginia on 01 May 2008 @ 12:40 UTC #

rob, did you get any response on how to obtain jewelweed? I too would love to get some of these flowers. We have moved and no one around here has heard of them. Any help would be most appreciated...... thanks elaine

—Posted by elaine young on 28 May 2008 @ 03:39 UTC #

I'd love to get some of these...either seedlings or seeds to try here in the South of Ireland if anyone has any spare?

—Posted by Bruno Ireland on 25 Jun 2008 @ 08:04 UTC #

Folks, here in New England, Jewel Weed seems to be fairly invasive. If it's not indigenous to where you live, I'd be really cautious about importing it.

—Posted by Norman Walsh on 25 Jun 2008 @ 08:21 UTC #

I was in my yard and noticed a jewel weed plant. Something I have not come across before. I saw the pod and touched one. It exploded and startled me. I did it again and was amused by the explosion. I googled this plant and I came upon this site. Glad I did now I know what I have back in the yard.

—Posted by Bob on 21 Aug 2008 @ 11:30 UTC #

I lucked out finding this website! I have just returned from an island off the midcoast of Maine where I found a prolific VIOLET jewelweed about six-feet tall and with flowers as big as my thumb. It was covered with bumble bees and hummingbirds. I cannot find info on this color jewelweed anywhere! It is definitely that plant as it has all the same properties including the bursting seed pods. We have the orange/yellow ones in this area. Anyone have info on this color?? I have never seen it before.

—Posted by maggie atwood on 25 Aug 2008 @ 12:18 UTC #

I found a site where you can buy Jewelweed m- good luck

http://www.sandmountainherbs.com/jewelweed_orange_touchmenot.html

—Posted by Kit on 03 Sep 2008 @ 01:59 UTC #

I just found a bunch of Jewel weed and I was so happy! I knew it would help with different things like Poison Ivy. What I need to know is how can I preserve it? And can I use the flowers to? also can I dry it for later use? Please if someone knows the answer would you please tell me, I been searching everywhere and found nothing much.

—Posted by Chhaya on 27 Aug 2009 @ 10:43 UTC #

I have just found your web site and excited about the info. I noticed one of the posting from a lady named Maggie Atwood (Aug 25 2008 @12:18 pm UTC). I would love to email her if you could send her my name and email address. I hope it has not been too long to reach her again. Thanks for the wonderful info. I too am allergic to poisen ivy.

—Posted by Gracie Oosting on 14 Jul 2011 @ 02:30 UTC #

Hi folks, Today I spent several minutes gathering Jewel weed from my mothers yard. I had collected some several years ago and froze it. when my husband would get into PI in the winter...from firewood...I was equipped. It just looks like ice crystals inside the stem, and is very cooling. Jewel weed has what I call joints. You can pop the joints and it makes nice sections from 3" to 15" I filled a zip lock bag with the ones that would fit and froze them. I took the taller ones & the leaves and put them in the blender(I used the ice crush setting) in batches. At first I didn't think it was going to work but it did enable me to wring them out. I collected a large amount of juice. I froze some in ice cube trays and I have 4 cups left. I would like some ideas on how I can preserve it so I can use it as a spray. Why do they say not to add alcohol. Does boiling it preserve it? sorry this is so long. Thanks!

—Posted by Karen on 20 Jun 2010 @ 11:25 UTC #