Jewelweed is in full bloom right now, and it is thick as ever out by our swamp. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love these lovely little flowers, and so do I. It is amazing to me to watch this plant grow each year – it starts out every spring with tiny little 2 leafed babies popping up from the dirt, and by August it is a 4 to 5 foot tall, very dense shrub. In the late fall and early winter, the entire mass dies completely back so that you can’t even tell it was ever there!
I don’t eat this plant, though it IS edible when very young. It contains a lot of calcium oxalates, increasing at the plant gets older. Even when young, it’s advised to cook it well, boiling in 2 changes of water. That just doesn’t sound very yummy to me, lol!
What I DO use this plant for, though, is the juicy stuff in the leaves and stems. It is a very nice remedy for skin irritations, even ‘big’ ones like Poison Ivy. I make a strong ‘tea’ with the leaves, stems and flowers and then strain and freeze the tea in ice cube trays. Just this weekend I was out harvesting some other plants on the side of a dirt road and wasn’t watching where I was stepping. My husband called out from the car “Hey, isn’t that Poison Ivy right there?”. Well, “right there” was right where I was standing, with my bare feet in open toed sandals!!! We high-tailed it to a nearby establishment where I washed my feet the best I could in the public restroom, then as soon as we got home I got one of my Jewelweed ice cubes and rubbed it all over my feet. Boy did that feel good after a day of being all hot and sweaty! That was 2 days ago now, and no blisters yet. (Keeping my fingers crossed)
The little seed pods are great fun, too. Later in the season, fat little seed pods will appear, and when you pinch them, the fleshy pod splits and curls up, spitting the seeds out rapidly. It feels alive in your fingers and first-timers often jump back, shaking their hand as if there were a bug on it, lol! If you can catch the seeds, they are a nice little trail nibble, tasting nut-like. The grandkids love popping those little seed-pods, and I love watching them interacting with nature. 🙂
Here is a little bit more information about Jewelweed, and where to find it.