Botanical Name :Impatiens capensis
Species: I. capensis
Synonyms: Impatiens biflora – Walter, Impatiens fulva – Nutt
Common Names: Orange Jewelweed, Common Jewelweed, Spotted Jewelweed, Spotted Touch-me-not, or Orange Balsam Jewelweed, Wild Balsam. Balsam-weed. Impatiens, Spotted Touch-me-not, Lady’s Eardrops, Lady’s Slipper.
Habitat :Impatiens capensis is native to N. America – Newfoundland to Saskatchewan. Naturalized in Britain.
It grows along the banks of rivers and canals, also in low-lying moist woodlands, avoiding acid soils.
Impatiens capensis is an Annual plant growing to 1.2m at a fast rate.It is hardy to zone 2. It is in flower from July to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.
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The flowers are orange with a three-lobed corolla; one of the calyx lobes is colored similarly to the corolla and forms a hooked conical spur at the back of the flower. Plants may also produce non-showy cleistogamous flowers, which do not require cross-pollination. The stems are somewhat translucent, succulent, and have swollen or darkened nodes. The seed pods are pendant and have projectile seeds that explode out of the pods when they are lightly touched, if ripe, which is where the name ‘touch-me-not’ comes from. The leaves appear to be silver or ‘jeweled’ when held underwater, which is possibly where the jewelweed name comes from. .
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil.
Succeeds in any reasonably good soil. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Prefers a moist well-drained humus rich soil in a cool shady site. Plants self-sow in areas where minimum winter temperatures go no lower than -15°c. This plant has seed capsules that spring open forcibly as the seed ripens to eject the seed a considerable distance. The capsules are sensitive to touch even before the seed is ripe, making seed collection difficult but fun.
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed; Stem.
The succulent stems, whilst still young and tender, can be cut up and cooked like green beans. Young leaves and shoots – cooked. They contain calcium oxalate crystals. Calcium oxalate is usually destroyed by thorough cooking. Large quantities of the leaves are purgative. See also the notes above on toxicity.
Antidote; Poultice; Stings; Warts.
Jewelweed was commonly used as a medicinal herb by a number of native North American Indian tribes, and has been widely used in domestic medicine.Along with other species of jewelweed it is a traditional remedy for skin rashes, although controlled studies have not shown efficacy for this purpose Its main value lies in its external application for wounds and a range of skin complaints. However, it is little used in modern herbalism and is considered to be dangerous and ‘wholly questionable’ when used internally. The herb is antidote, cathartic, diuretic and emetic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of fevers, difficult urination, measles, stomach cramps, jaundice etc. The juice of the leaves is used externally in the treatment of piles, fungal dermatitis, nettle stings, poison ivy rash, burns etc. The sap is used to remove warts. A poultice of the leaves is applied to bruises, burns, cuts etc.
Herbal Baths are a great way to treat widespread rashes, and heat rashes in those hard to reach places that flare up in summer time. A soothing bath of chamomile and oatmeal is a luxurious way to start the healing process. A simple home remedy that most everyone has on hand is baking soda and vinegar. Just add about 2 cups of vinegar and a tablespoon of baking soda to a tepid bath to and relax away the hurt. This simple bath also works well on sunburns. Baths with tea bags of full of green or black tea will help dry the rashes and stop itching, all for pennies an a bath. For an especially bad rash you may want to use comfrey leaf in your bath or as a skin wash.
The fresh juice obtained from the plant is a fungicide. This juice can be concentrated by boiling it. A yellow dye has been made from the flowers. It can be made from the whole plant.
Known Hazards:Regular ingestion of large quantities of these plants can be dangerous due to their high mineral content. This report, which seems nonsensical, might refer to calcium oxalate. This mineral is found in I. capensis and so is probably also in other members of the genus. It can be harmful raw but is destroyed by thoroughly cooking or drying the plant. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider