My earliest memory of jewelweed is when I ran into some poison ivy while working at MacCallum More. My supervisor told me to go to the herb garden and rub jewelweed where I was exposed. Needless to say, jewelweed wasn’t a landscape perennial so I didn’t study it in horticulture school. But I must have picked the correct plant because I didn’t end up with a rash. I did see a Master Gardener friend of mine rubbing jewelweed on his arms. He knows a lot of herbal lore and said he got into poison ivy. The stem juice is said to relieve itching from poison ivy and has also been used to treat athlete's foot. Scientific data confirm the fungicidal qualities. The botanical name is Impatiens capensis. Genus name comes from the Latin word impatiens meaning impatient in reference to the violent seed discharge from the ripe pods, which gives it another common name, Touch-Me-Not. Specific epithet means of the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa, but this is a misnomer as this plant is native to North America. It is found in all counties in Virginia. This shows that it can survive in many types of climates and soils. Jewelweed is an annual and is a prolific seeder. It can throw its seeds 4 to 6 feet. Its wetland status is Facultative Wetlands – usually occur in wetlands but may occur in non-wetlands. Generally, you will find it at pond edges, ditches. Mine is growing where the effluent of our upstairs air conditioning unit comes out and goes into a wash pan which makes a handy bird bath that I don’t have to think about. Occasionally the pan will overflow so the ground is kept moist. Jewelweed gets about 4 to 5 feet tall. It is in the Balsaminaceae or touch me not family. This family includes the hundreds of species of Impatiens and also Hydrocera which has only one species and is native to India and southern China. The flowers of jewelweed are orange with spots. They are resupinate, meaning the flowers are upside down. The flowers are unique. The showy orange flowers of jewelweed must be cross-pollinated by insects or hummingbirds. However, jewelweed also has inconspicuous flowers that never open. These flowers (termed cleistogamous by botanists) fertilize themselves and produce seed without ever exchanging pollen with another flower. Cleistogamous flowers are very small (about 1 mm long) and are borne near the bases of the leaves. Research has shown that seeds produced by the showy, cross-pollinated flowers grow into larger, hardier plants, but the cleistogamous flowers produce seed at a much lower cost to the parent plant. Jewelweed resembles the closely-related pale touch-me-not (Impatiens pallida), which can be distinguished by its yellow flowers. Jewelweed is attractive to the ruby throated hummingbird and bees and butterflies. Dew or rain beads up on the leaves forming sparkling droplets which give rise to the common name of jewelweed. Washington State considers jewelweed a noxious weed. The genus of Impatiens contains napthoquinone, which may cause mild to moderate irritation of the digestive track. It can hybridize with spurless jewelweed, Impatiens ecornutam, which is the Washington State native. Next time you get tangled up in poison ivy, find some jewelweed and rub it all over yourself. I think you’ll be surprised that it really is effective.