jewelweed thumbnail Jewelweed - Impatiens biflora:


This plant is related to the ornamental impatiens, and shares with it the succulent pulpy green stem. It is also known as touch-me-not, for its late summer pods which burst and spread seed when disturbed. Its flowers are yellow, and bloom in the late summer. The plant is tall and gangly, sometimes reaching five or so feet in height, but more typically not topping three feet.

Growing Info:

This is an annual which readily self-seeds. Around here in New England, it is wildcrafted; I have never known of anyone to plant this. It thrives in partial shade, enjoying summers of abundant rainfall. It takes readily to disturbed areas, or the borders between meadows and trees.

Culinary Uses:

Harris remarks that it is possible to gather small jewelweed shoots, from 4-5 inches, and eat these, presumably as a salad. He notes that one should eat them with other vegetables, only a few at a time. Older plants, or a surfeit of early plants, act as an unwelcome purgative. Frankly, I'm not remotely tempted to experiment.

Medicinal Uses in Folklore:

For a topical application, boil the plant down and save the juices. Let it cool. It can be applied to skin irritations to help relieve them. Native Americans have used this as a treatment for poison ivy allergic reactions as well as for eczema. It has also been used as a preventative for the poison ivy reaction if applied immediately after contact with that plant. (Your author believes in a multi-fanged approach: strong soap and lukewarm water, followed by vinegar, followed by more soap and water, followed by jewelweed obtained by slitting the stem and applying the pulp directly to the site. Alcohol applications, by the way, only succeed in moving the poison ivy oils around.)

Scanning the Scientific Literature:

I have been unable, so far, to locate anything in the scientific literature regarding this plant and its properties or constituents.

Other Info:

This plant grows in the same environment as the plant it can help humans against -- poison ivy.


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Last Updated: March 7, 1999.