Forage Friday #16 Jewelweed or Touch-Me-Not

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I’m often in awe at the providence of God. There’s so many “everyday blessings” that constantly surround us that it’s easy to take them for granted. Such is the case with Jewelweed. The name was given to plant because of “jewels” that adorn the leaf when it’s wet. The leaf also takes on a gemstone like look when fully submerged.

The bright orange or pale yellow flowers are hard to mistake once you know what they look like.

The unmistakable flowers always reminds me of a fairy hat of some sort. I can almost see a tiny elf plucking a fresh dew covered “hat” every morning so it can go about its business in style. In reality the flowers are favored by bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Tonight’s photos are from my back yard near the forest edge. The large patch grows on the shady side of the mountain beneath the hickory and magnolia.

The name Touch-Me-Not is more commonly used in my region. In the Fall when the pods are fully mature they explode at the slightest touch. The pressure is provided by natural springs that grow in tight coils within the pods.

Here in picture 3 you can see the bean-like pod just behind the orange flower. This one is not ripe yet but in a few days the pressure from the coils growing inside make the pods bulge.

The seeds can be ejected as far as thirty feet from the plant. Those seeds are edible and said to taste similar to walnuts. The collection technique is to place a bag over the pod and gently shake it until you hear the seeds impact on the bag. They are covered by a shell that’s rough to open. The suggestion of how to get to the tasty little nut ( it’s really small ) is to crush them and dump the mix in a dish of water. The nuts sink but the shells float. Simply skim the shells off of the surface.

Jewelweed comes into it’s own as preventive and remedy for poison ivy rash.

The thing I use Jewelweed for the most is as a remedy for poison ivy rash. Now, it’s possible for anyone to have an allergy to anything. And there’s probably a certain amount of people who it will not work for but I’ve not met them yet. I have successfully prevented poison ivy rash by crushing the plant stems and all directly on my skin. Admittedly, I am not very sensitive to poison ivy in the first place but I do get a mild rash when I am unprotected. I rubbed the juice of the Jewelweed into my skin and then brushed the poison ivy across the underside of my arm. No reaction. Next, I juiced up my skin and pulled the poison ivy out of Bush. Still, there’s no rash. It wasn’t until I crushed the poison ivy out my skin that the protection of the Jewelweed was insufficient. Even then the rash went away when I applied more Jewelweed the next day. The most extreme example that I ever seen was an eight year old boy who had blisters from head to toe. I helped his parents collect several Walmart bags full of Jewelweed and we crushed them with a rolling pin. The crushed plants were dumped into a tub full of hot bathwater and the boy soaked for several hours. By the next morning his blisters were gone. ( I’m not a medical professional. I’m just telling you about my personal experience .)

Jewlweed/Touch-Me-Not is really a good plant to have around.

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