Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Justice Like Jewelweed

Impatiens capensis, in North America, grows in roadside ditches, or near stream beds, and the internet claims you can use Orange Jewelweed as a remedy for poison ivy. Why this plant is really cool: the seed pods burst when you touch them--this is known as "explosive dehiscence," or in common vernacular "spreading its wild oats."

I know just enough plant biology to be dangerous. Andrew knows I often stop along our walks to examine an unusual plant up close. One early fall day in college, we walked along a quiet Indiana road nearby. I had just learned about jewelweed in class, and I stopped to show him the delicate orange flowers. He leaned in close to look, just as I lightly squeezed one of the seed pods. The plant jettisoned its seeds several feet at the slightest touch. 

The Germans call the plant Springkraut. We also call it "touch-me-not," although, I don't know why you wouldn't want to.

It's nature's bubble wrap!

This plant's existence refreshes my soul. I wouldn't want to tame it or bring it inside or plant it in a garden. Impatiens capensis belongs where hikers can come along and find themselves lost for a little while enjoying the tiny flowers' orchid-like beauty, and in helping the next generation of Orange Jewelweed get its start.

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