Jewelweed

By: Sarah W.

Late summer can produce contrasting feelings for me. The garden harvest is at its height, the weather is clement, and I can look forward to a cessation of lawn mowing. But after lovely autumn, here comes winter with bare trees, sleet and ice, snow shoveling….  And worst of all – no more home grown tomatoes!


But before glumness dribbles in, there are still the late flowers to enjoy. One of my favorites is Jewelweed which is in bloom right now. It is a self seeding annual with tubular orange (and sometimes yellow) flowers. It grows in masses in semi-shaded moist areas.


Jewelweed has many commendable attributes. The stem and leaves can be crushed and applied on your skin to prevent the spread of poison ivy (use it immediately after exposure). I’ve used it to assuage itching bites of unknown insects (it works!).  And the flower is beloved of hummingbirds, bumblebees and other pollinating insects.


 When the flowers progress to seeds, the fun begins for humans of all ages. Give the pod a little squeeze and the seeds pop out – thus the plant’s nickname ‘touch-me-not’. It’s a great way for the plant to disperse and multiply. Try eating the seeds, which have a pleasant nutty flavor. You might also notice that birds like them too.

So enjoy the moment – of fresh tomatoes and jewelweed.

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