July 21, 2017

Touch Me, Touch Me Not

Impatiens capensis - Jewelweed

Impatiens capensis – Jewelweed | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Impatiens capensis is a common sight around Maine, found on the edges of wetlands and forests and on the shores of rivers, lakes and swamps. Often called jewelweed, the plant is also known as spotted touch-me-not because of the tendency of the ripe seed pod to pop open with a touch. A most excellent thing to keep in mind is its potential use if one should get into a patch of itch-inducing plants. According to Go Botany,”juice from the crushed stem is said to alleviate the symptoms of poison ivy and stinging nettle. This is due to the binding action of the chemical lawsone.” It also has been used “to treat athletes foot. Scientific data confirm the fungicidal qualities,” according to Wildflower.org. That does make it a jewel of a weed.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.