In Bloom: Jewelweed
Jewelweed has magical trumpet-shaped flowers that hang from the plant much as a jewel pendant dangles from a necklace. The leaves appear to be silver or “jeweled” when held underwater or after a rain, which might just be how it got its name.
Common names for Impatiens capensis include spotted jewelweed and touch-me-not. Spotted jewelweed refers to the plant’s orange flowers with dark red dots. At elevations above 5,000 feet, the flowers are yellow in color. The touch-me-not name comes from seeds that explode or “pop” out of the pods when they are lightly touched.
Jewelweed is a plant that flourishes in conditions that few others will tolerate, including deep shade and soggy soil. It is common in bottomland soils and ditches, as well as along creeks. Although it is an annual, once established in an area, it comes back year after year because it is a vigorous self-seeder. A word of warning, the berries can be toxic to humans, especially children, if ingested.
Hummingbirds are jewelweed’s main pollinators. Bees play an important role in the plant’s propagation as well. Thanks to these two vigorous pollinators, the fertilization rate of jewelweed is very high.
Anyone who spends much time in the woods knows the properties of jewelweed as a natural first aid for poison ivy. The two species seem to grow in similar habitats. The leaves and juice from the stem are used to suppress the oily antigen urushiol in poison ivy. Poultices and salves made from jewelweed have been used in folk medicine for bruises, burns, cuts, eczema, insect bites, sores, sprains, warts, and ringworm. It is also a good antidote to ease the pain from stinging nettles.
This Month at the Botanical Gardens at Asheville
Join us this month for our annual fall plant sale Saturday, September 10, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. rain or shine. All gardeners know that fall is the time to put plants in the ground if you want beautiful blossoms in spring. It’s also the best time of the year for planting shrubs and perennials. The horticulture staff and representatives from numerous local plant nurseries and garden clubs will offer a wide variety of trees, shrubs, and flowers for fall plantings. Botanical Gardens at Asheville members are entitled to a ten percent discount on BGA-grown plants as well as purchases at the gift shop.
The Botanical Gardens, located at 151 W.T. Weaver Boulevard, is a nonprofit organization housing a collection of plants native to the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated and memberships are encouraged. Check ashevillebotanicalgardens.org for a variety of Education Programs this month.