The Outdoor Apothecary is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

jewelweed plant

As its common name implies, the jewelweed plant (Impatiens capensis) is a very beautiful plant with pretty jewel-like flowers in shades of yellow, orange, and red.

Jewelweed is a flowering plant that grows in the United States. It has many common names, including jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, jewel-weed, spotted jewelweed, and spotted touch-me-not.

Jewelweed Identification

The jewelweed plant can grow to be more than three feet tall with leaves that are tender, oval shaped, and scalloped.  You will notice that when water collects on the leaves, they appearlike little jewels, and often roll right off. 

There may be fine hairs or no hair at all on the upper surface of the leaf; if jewelweed has hairs on all surfaces it is usually more robust. The lower surface of jewelweed’s leaves may also have fine hair.

The flowers of jewelweed are either single or in clusters of two or three together and grow at the leaf axils (the point where the leaf stem meets the main stem). Flowers that grow in clusters usually look alike and can vary in color from bright yellow to orange to red; however, individual jewelweed flowers that grow alone can be somewhat different shades. Some jewelweed plants do not produce showy flowers – instead, they branch out from their main stems with many tiny greenish-white buds along its length about an inch above the leaves – these buds appear before the flowers.   

The jewelweed plant is a perennial, meaning it lives for several years and produces seeds each year until the plant finally dies. After its flowers fade, jewelweed plants produce shiny green seedpods, which split open when they are ripe to expel their seeds! 

jewelweed plant

Is Jewelweed poisonous?

The jewelweed plant is non-toxic to humans and animals.

Jewelweed Look Alikes

Jewelweed plants look very similar to pale touch-me-not (Impatiens pallida). They have triangular seed pods with colorful spots. However, jewelweed has a stem that is mostly hairless except for a few hairs at nodes near flowers and leaves. It flowers from June through October.

Where is jewelweed found?

Jewelweed is a common herb often found in moist, semi-shady areas throughout northern and eastern North America. It often grows densely in forests that are in low, flood-prone areas, along rivers, and around the forested edges of marshes and bogs. Jewelweed also colonizes disturbed habitats such as ditches and roadsides.

What Happens When We Touch touch me not plant?

Jewelweed is often called touch-me-not because when the hairs are touched, they suddenly release their seeds. The jewelweed plant needs moisture to help it do this—that’s why jewelweed is usually found growing along waterways.

Fun game: When you walk by jewelweed in summer, the seeds violently explode onto anyone brushing by them.  You can encourage this bursting by touching them. Not only is this a fun sensation, but you are also helping to spread the seeds and make new plants. 

jewelweed plant

Is Jewelweed Edible?

Surprisingly, you can use jewelweed as a food source in moderation. The tiny seeds taste like walnuts and can be safely consumed, as can the flowers which look so pretty in a summer salad.  They are also good cooked and added to stir fry.

To eat the stems and leaves of the plant, harvest them when they’re still young in the spring and boil them for 10-20 minutes (changinging the water at least twice) before eating them.  This helps to remove the high amounts of calcium oxalates and selenium that these parts of the plant contain.

It is recommended that you not eat large amount of jewelweed, even when cooked, because it can have a laxative effect, or contribute to the development of kidney stones due to their high oxalate content.  

Jewelweed for Poison Ivy

Jewelweed is best known for the sap found in its stem and leaves. This sap is said to relieve itching and pain from a variety of ailments, including hives, poison ivy, bug bites, stinging nettle, sunburn, and other skin irritations. The sap has also been shown to have anti-fungal properties and can be used to treat athlete’s foot.

Medicinal Uses of Jewelweed

Jewelweed can be used as a remedy for poison ivy dermatitis (a rash from the oil urushiol). Rub jewelweed juice on the poison ivy blisters and other parts of your skin that got exposed to the poisonous oil. This will help decrease the severity of the reaction & treat the area. You can also directly apply jewelweed sap or jewelweed leaves onto your skin if no jewelweed juice is available. Some people apply jewelweed juice to their skin prior to going into poison ivy areas—this helps create a protective barrier.

jewelweed plant

{Recipe} Jewelweed Juice

This is the easiest way I’ve found to preserve jewelweed for future use as a poison ivy treatment and preventative. 

  • Simply puree jewelweed with some water, strain, and freeze the resulting juice in ice trays.
  • You can either thaw a portion for several hours in the refrigerator, or lightly rub a frozen cube directly over itchy spots as needed, or better yet, apply a thin layer as a protective barrier before heading into poison ivy prone areas.
  • The amount of water you add to the mix is really up to you and how juicy your plant is. 
  • Just add enough to make blending easy and to ensure you have a good supply of juice.

{Recipe} Jewelweed Bug Repellant

  • Collect as much jewelweed as you can crush and squish into a quart sized jar.
  • Fill the jar with about 2 cups of apple cider vinegar. 
  • Leave it to infuse for about 2 weeks, giving it a shake once or twice a day.
  • Strain into a clean spray bottle and add 10-20 drops of each of the following essential oils: lavender, peppermint, cedar, and rosemary. Shake well befor using. 

This spray stays good and strong for about a year and is perfect for those buggy summer nights.  The insects hate it!

Conclusion

Jewelweed is a weed that grows in the wild and has been used for centuries to treat skin irritations. The plant’s Latin name, Impatiens capensis, literally translates into “unhurrying” which aptly describes the lack of pain associated with jewelweed extract when applied topically or taken orally. This article discusses how you can use this herb as an alternative treatment for poison ivy and other skin irritations. If you want more information on helpful backyard weeds from our archives, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on email
Email

Disclaimer- I am not a medical professional. All information shared here is for information and entertainment only. Do your own research and consult your health care provider before treating yourself with any product, plant or mixture.