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Impatiens, Jewelweed, Touch-Me-Not and What I Have Learned

Jewelweed

Jewelweed is one of the plants I named as a child. I was fascinated by how easy it was to rip out, although it never grew anywhere that required weeding. Nowadays, I do have places that require I pull it out, but I am happy to find it growing along my roadside. I learned that the juice of its succulent stems can relieve skin irritation from bug bites, nettle stings, and even poison ivy if it is rubbed on right after finding out those pretty leaves you’ve been in are poison ivy. I’ve even heard that some people cook up a batch of jewelweed salve by heating up some stems in oil.

Jewelweed closeup.

I did not know, until very recently, that Jewelweed is also known as touch-me-not.   Nor did I know that it was a member of the impatiens family, properly Impatiens biflora, which includes over 850 other species growing in temperate and tropical climes. All I knew about impatiens is that a hybrid impatiens is a useful and lovely addition to the  shade garden, blooming all summer long, and that is a very different plant. I have also learned that jewelweed is a good pollinator plant.  The red dots on the blossom attract pollinators like moths, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Wild impatiens

When I visited Marie Stella recently, I stopped to admire little clumps of  this pretty 2-3 foot tall flower. Marie said it was a wild impatiens and seeded itself here and there. She immediately ripped up (very easy) a few stems which I planted in the Shed Bed – only because I had a newly weeded spot there. The stems took  and I am looking forward to a nice clump in the spring. I am also hoping someone can give me a better identification than ‘wild impatiens.’

6 comments to Impatiens, Jewelweed, Touch-Me-Not and What I Have Learned

  • Lisa at Greenbow

    I have tried to get jewel weed to grow in my garden. It never fails if you want it it won’t grow for you. I have tried the orange and yellow.

  • Nan

    I have some growing and think it very pretty. I recently read that ornamental jewelweed is an invasive species. Is this the same stuff or a different variety?

  • Thanks for that – and the lovely pictures of the ferns as well! What species is the yellow Jewel Weed? I remember weeding out impatiens in a garden I worked in (very easy, as you say), but the flowers were pink.

  • Jewelweed is all over the wetlands behind my house in central North Carolina. That’s fine with me, since it is far preferable to that horrible stilt grass that is everywhere. I didn’t know it could be used medicinally – good to know! Plus the hummers do love it.

  • Pat

    Lisa – Frustrating to have these ‘weeds’ to refuse to grow where you want them.
    Nan – I have not heard of any invasiveness. I’ll have to look.
    Cathy – Yellow spotted jewelweed is Impatiens capensis.
    Galloping – Jewelweed is really quite wonderful all around.

  • lucky you. we used to have a whole bank of touch-me-nots. they like the low wet where used to live. too sandy here I think.

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