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.
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.
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.’