Jewel weed is a native plant that is now in bloom. You can find jewel weed growing in moist areas that have a moderate amount of shade such as an open forest or a forest edge. It belongs to the impatient family of which there are nearly 850 species worldwide.
Jewel weed gets its name for the silvery sheen found on leaves when they are dipped in water of covered with dew. Jewel weed is a summer annual that grows 2 to 5 feet tall and has a rather fragile stem and 2 to 3 flowers per stalk that are usually orange red to yellow in color. Later in the summer the jewel weed produces seeds in pods under pressure that will explode out of the pods if pinched with your fingers.
Hummingbirds readily feed on jewel weed nectar as well as swallowtail butterflies and honeybees. Jewel weed sap contains parinaric acid which has anti-inflammatory activity and is a fungicide. Jewel weed has been used as a home remedy for bee stings, insect bites, poison ivy and athlete’s foot.
Article by Mike Kay, FCFCDB member