Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Jewelweed

(Pictured: Jewelweed from D. Gordon E. Robertson from Wikipedia)

A member of the Touch-Me-Not family and living up to its name, Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is a beautiful orange flower with easy growth and not prone to disease or decay. It can get up to five feet tall on watery transparent stems that can collapse from the weight. Most stalks, unless in prime conditions, will only grow to three feet in height. The orange flowers will keep blooming throughout the summer season, bursting color through the bog garden. Leaves have a lovely blue-green color to them, highlighting the orange of the flowers.

Other Names for Impatiens capensis
Impatiens capensis is typically known as just “jewelweed” but can also be called Orange Jewelweed, Common Jewelweed, Spotted Jewelweed, and Orange Balsam. The capensis of the name means “of the cape” and was a source of irony from the misnomer. It was named believing it was native to the Cape of Good Hope in Africa, but it turns out it was not native to that area at all. It looks like a “jewel” with the water resistant leaves letting the water bead up, like tiny jewels.

Folklore Remedy
The folklore remedies for Jewelweed include a topical skin rash formula. Early Native Americans used the juice of the plant in its most watery state for insect bites, for poison ivy or nettles, and most other forms of skin irritation. The plant has been used to heal skin ailments throughout history although there is now no proof that it can do anything for rashes. Studies have been made to give validity or deny, and their results prove that it is just a pretty flower and has no function as a skin rash remedy.

How to Plant and Grow Jewelweed
Jewelweed loves to be in really wet soils so it is perfect for a bog garden as a marginal water plant. It does not need soil to dry, so standing water is fine. It will also need to be in full or partial shade, as the full sun is too harsh for this flower. Soil conditions are optimal when it’s humusy. With its self seeding, it can really spread quickly throughout the landscape. Keep an eye on it to keep it in check.

Scientific Classification for Jewelweed
Kingdom Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Rosidae
Order Geraniales
Family Balsaminaceae – Touch-me-not family
Genus Impatiens L. – touch-me-not
Species Impatiens capensis Meerb. – jewelweed

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