Jewelweed is one amazing plant for many reasons. First, its beauty. Jewelweed flowers look like little trumpets hanging under leaves. The one I found is pale jewelweed (Impatiens pallida), but you can also find orange jewelweed (I. capensis) which has a deeper, more vibrant color. I painted one in 2011.
The second reason jewelweed is amazing is the way it disperses its seeds. When something (like a pollinator) brushes up against the seed pod which also hangs under the leaves, it explodes, catapulting the seeds into the air! It is sooooooo much fun to find these pods and touch them. They pop right in your hand! The pod opens and the sides coil tightly, sending seeds flying.
The third reason it’s a gem is because this native plant feeds many native pollinators including hummingbirds! You’ll find many bumblebees, bees, flies, and others on the same bush at any one time.
And lastly, jewelweed is a lifesaver if you encounter poison ivy or stinging nettle. Simply crush the stem and rub on effected areas. It may save you until you can get home to wash the area with soap and water and apply calamine lotion. It is believed doing this will lessen your reaction to the plants.
You can find jewelweed in shaded forests with moist soils. You can also plant jewelweed in your garden if you have shaded, moist, well draining soil. This will attract many pollinators to your yard.
I hope you can find some jewelweed on your next hike! Try to touch those pods….they’re ripe now! Happy Hiking!