Appalachia Appalachian Medicine Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Jewelweed Blooms

Jewelweed in appalachia

Jewelweed grows in a ditch at the bottom of my driveway. Generally the plants grow in shady damp places and can reach 2-3 feet tall. The juice of the plant is said to be a natural cortisone and is an old time remedy for poison oak, poison ivy, bee stings, and bug bites.

Jewelweed for posion oak

Jewelweed is sometimes called Wild Touch Me Not-because once the plant begins to produce seed pods the slightest touch will send seeds flying in all directions.

Jewelweed is a wild impatient

According to my favorite old book about wildflowers, Wildflowers Worth Knowing by Neltje Blanchan, Jewelweed is also called Spotted Touch Me Not, Silver Cap, Wild Balsam, Lady’s Eardrops, Snap Weed and Wild Lady’s Slipper.

Blanchan also has this to say about the plants:

Distribution–Nova Scotia to Oregon, south to Missouri and Florida.

These exquisite, bright flowers, hanging at a horizontal, like jewels from a lady’s ear, may be responsible for the plant’s folk-name; but whoever is abroad early on a dewy morning, or after a shower, and finds notched edges of the drooping leaves hung with scintillating gems, dancing, sparkling in the sunshine, sees still another reason for naming this the Jewel-weed. In a brook, pond, spring, or wayside trough, which can never be far from its haunts, dip a spray of the plant to transform the leaves into glistening silver. They shed water much as the nasturtiums do.

Jewelweed is medicinal

Jewelweed is a plant I’ve been familiar with my whole life. When I see the striking orange blooms I’m reminded of small children placing their hands in mine to go for a walk.

I was one of those little girls who was born wishing she was a Mother. I loved my baby dolls more than some folks love their children-sad but true. I was no more than 12 when I started babysitting. I had a natural instinct when it came to entertaining kids-one of my never fail secret weapons was to take them on a walk. If Jewelweed and its rocketing seed pods were in season-it made the walk all the better.

I wish I could see far back enough in time to know who taught me about Jewelweed and its entertaining seeds pods but I can’t. I’d like to think it was Pap’s Mother since I stayed with her when I was small but I can’t say for sure.

I can say for sure, she walked the same paths I do.

Tipper

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig and The Acorn in 2012.

 

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Sue
    June 9, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I’ve used a decoction of jewelweed frozen into ice cubes as a topical remedy for poison ivy for years, but I remember as a young girl a friend of my mom’s gave us a sweet red syrup that we took as an internal remedy that cleared the rash overnight. She cautioned us to only take 1 teaspoon, one dose only. I’m pretty sure that it was made from jewelweed, which I know isn’t recommended for internal use (probably why the dose is so small and not repeated).
    I have searched for a recipe, but the woman we got the syrup from has long since passed and the recipe is lost. I think she had mentioned that it was made by a Mennonite woman. Does anyone know of this cure or have a recipe?

  • Reply
    B.Ruth
    September 15, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Tipper,
    I love Jewelweed. The perfect Fall color. It does have a fascinating way of propagating itself. Impatiens also do the same, quickly popping back and spitting the seeds everywhere.
    Some plants are just so interesting and fun to grow and watch. Teaching children the different ways of plants can get them interested in nature at an early age.
    One of my first learning experiences about plants was my Grandmothers patch of “four o’clocks”! As a little girl I would watch the clock in the late afternoon hoping to catch them when they opened around four o’clock. I thought that was the most amazing thing I ever heard of. I also enjoyed her Sweet Williams, the old timey ones. I thought why does she love these, they don’t smell sweet to me only spicy and how did they get their name Sweet William??
    Then later in my elementary/junior high school years and many flowers later, my Mother acquired a Night Blooming Cereus. It grew and grew then one summer night after a few years, a bud formed on the plant. I stayed up as late as I could but missed the bloom. Only the closed blossom remained the next morning. I vowed never to miss it again, and I didn’t. One year it had so many buds and we timed the blooming to the exact night and the whole neighborhood sat around under a willow to wait for the intoxicating blooms to open. I will never forget when all those blooms started opening among all the conversations going on and the many cups of coffee and laughter. By this time I was a “swear to my soul” when I grow up and have a place of my own I will grow flowers and plants especially unusual ones.
    One year lately, my son wondered why I made such a fuss over a little orange trout lily on a spindly stem. When he was over again in a day or so I showed him a closed blossom. See the way it just twists up, just like it has bloomed and wrung itself out like a dishrag. I told him I thought that was the most amazing thing, for it seems on the Trout Lily it is more pronounced than other flower blooms…”Hearts a’bustin” is another unusual plant that shows off when it decides to share it’s seeds with the earth in the Fall. They are eye catchers and the birds just love ours on the driveway woodland edges.
    Loved this post Tipper,
    I know how much you love any wildflowers and gardening and it shows in the way you speak of them.

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    September 13, 2015 at 1:13 am

    Passed this info on to a friend in upstate Ohio. She and her husband have been battling bad poison ivy rashes. She said someone told her to try applying just the milky substance from a milkweed leaf on it. It cleared up for them almost overnight. I’m sure she’s going to be interested in reading about jewelweed too.
    God bless.
    RB
    <><

  • Reply
    Robert Wasmer
    September 12, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    I really like the Jewelweed plant.I’ve used the plant juice on stings from Stinging Nettle. The pretty little flowers are attractive to hummingbirds also. I am a retired college biology professor and liked to show students the interesting seed dispersal mechanism of the plant during field trips in Maryland.
    I am now carver of life-sized decorative songbirds and would love to carve a male hummingbird at a Jewelweed blossom. Need some good reference material of the plant, haven’t found it here in Washington state.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    September 12, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    As a kid, I loved to pinch those pregnant little seed pods and see them burst open to fling out the next generation of jewelweeds. The small ripe pods are spring-loaded to suddenly break into five (?) strips at the slightest touch, quickly curling back on themselves as they throw their seeds out into the hand of fate and the promise of next year.

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    September 12, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    Save me some seeds!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    September 12, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    I think they are called jewelweed because water will bead up on them and sparkle if sunlight hits them. Also you can break off a leaf and put it in water bottom side up and it will look like silver. Jewelweed is extremely water repellent. You can souse the leaves in water and when you pull them back out they will be completely dry
    My mother used to raise a houseplant she called sultanas. They looked just like the Jewelweed plant except the bloom was different. The seeds would even pop too but not nearly as good as the touch-me-nots that grew along every creek, branch and shady wet place on Wiggins Creek.
    She would just cut off a little piece of the mother plant, stick it in a glass of water and put it in a window. It would grow roots and she would put it in some good stump dirt. A few months later she had another houseplant. She rooted African violets the same way.

  • Reply
    Ken
    September 12, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Tipper,
    When I started reading about Jewelweed I didn’t remember the name. Then when I saw them, I thought “Oh, goodness, Touch-Me-Knots”.They use to be all around our five springs.
    Maybe loving children made you into such a caring person, we all see that.
    I bought some Good-smelling soap
    from a friend in Nantahala a few
    years ago. I remember Chitter and
    Chatter looking at one another as
    they sniffed that fragrance. It
    was nice and all I remember is
    that it has Goat’s Milk in it.
    …Ken

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    September 12, 2015 at 11:12 am

    My Grandmother Sarah Evaline Souther Dyer known as the “herb doctor” of Choestoe, no doubt had Jewelweed in her reptoire of “receipts” she kept for making-do with what she had and what she had been taught, by an old Indian couple that remained in Choestoe after the removal on that infamous “Trail of Tears.” I wish I had access to my grandmother’s “recipes–‘receipts’ for making these remedies. But I don’t know what happened to her record of herb-doctoring. When I see jewelweed blooming, I think of Grandma Sarah.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    September 12, 2015 at 9:37 am

    I had never thought about it before but the combination of “jewel” + “weed” is a bit unusual. It is very much more a jewel than a weed. In my lifetime I have, I’m sure, seen too many things and even people as weeds when with the right sort of eyes I would have seen jewels. As the song says, “I’m just an old lump of coal. But I’m gonna be a diamond someday.”
    May each of you all have a blessed day.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    September 12, 2015 at 9:25 am

    I’m not sure the Jewelweed grows here in Ky. If so, I’ve never seen a flowering plant with seed pods you described. I bought some homemade ointment called Chickweed Salve that was made by an old Amish guy that has testimonials (more like miracles) a mile long and a recipe he refuses to share. Maybe the Jewelweed and Chickweed are from the same plant family.

  • Reply
    dolores
    September 12, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Amazing how useful cures are very often right along side the road. That was an interesting piece of science.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    September 12, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Tipper: Your details of the beautiful JEWEL WEED made me want to get ‘on a hiking trail’ and find that extraordinary flower in full bloom! When we hike in the Smokies we have no trouble finding it.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Becky
    September 12, 2015 at 7:43 am

    Hi there, Tipper!
    I so wish I could find Jewelweed here on the farm. It stays so dry here it doesn’t have a chance.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    September 12, 2015 at 7:38 am

    They certainly are beautiful but then all of mother nature’s bounty is beautiful. I always wish I’d learn more about making salves and remedies from mother natures offerings but I never really seem to get around to doing it. Maybe Chatter will learn and we can all make use of it.

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