Name: Impatiens capensis aka jewelweed
Type of Plant: A native annual plant (let’s not call it a weed) that grows 2 to 4 feet tall and flowers in mid-summer.
Why I Love This Plant: I’ve grown to love this plant because the foliage is beautiful, the flowers are sweet, and it’s a survivor. Let me tell you a few things that you might not know about this native plant: it’s called jewelweed because after it rains, drops of water bead up on the leaves and are displayed like diamonds on green velvet at Tiffany’s.
The seeds pods have an amazing feature that allows the plant to spread it’s seeds – when they are ripe, any disturbance such as wind or a passing animal, stimulates the abrupt projection of the seeds two yards away. This is why some people call this plant “touch me nots.”
Jewelweed is pollinated by a variety of animals and insects. The leaves are eaten by caterpillars and animals, and the seeds by many species of birds.
Finally, you can’t post about this plant on any social media without someone chiming in about using jewelweed foliage to treat poison ivy. That’s because this plant is rich in lawsone, a chemical that has anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. But it’s not just poison ivy rash that the leaves and stems are used to ease rashes of…it’s also helpful for the skin irritations caused by stinging nettle, insect bites and fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.
A Word to the Wise: The birds and rodents are likely to disseminate this plant far and wide on your property. Even if you love it as I do, that doesn’t mean that you need to let every plant live. Decide where you want to let it thrive and where you should pull the excess out.