I have a lovely stand of native jewel weed growing next to the wild raspberries along the woodland edge of my yard this year. It is just stunning.
This native herb plant has a succulent, hollow stem, with leaves in a pale green color. It has waxy blossoms that are beautiful shades of deep orange and bright yellow. Jewel weed grows up to five feet tall and likes a cool shady environment, you can often find it along the river banks. There is a clear, watery liquid inside the stems and along the nodes. While not a medical treatment, this sappy liquid is often applied to the skin as a soother for various irritations like poison ivy and insect bites.
The delicate, long oval, leaves are water-repellent, so they look like they're covered with tiny jewels in the morning dew and after it rains that sparkle in the sun - thus the name jewel weed.
The flowers, which bloom early summer through fall, are about an inch long with three petals - one forms a slipper. They are trumpet shaped and are bright orange-yellow. The flowers are spotted with red or yellow, the bright colors attract pollinators. Hummingbirds love jewel weed, too. The flowers grow in pairs, the botanical name is impatiens bi-flora. In the autumn, the plant develops seed pods that split in neat little coils that expose the seeds when squeezed. I remember playing with these seed pods when I was little, the seeds sort of jump out of the pod when the bright green pod curls up.
Of course, I am harvesting this awesome plant for some jewel weed salve. After drying, I process the leaves and stems with a mortar and pestle then pack it in a clean glass jar.
The herb is covered with golden jojoba oil and allowed to steep for several weeks. After the full infusion, the oil will be strained and combined with some beeswax and shea and cocoa butter to a soft ointment consistency, poured into tins ready for use. The infused oil can also be utilized in my handmade cold process soap.
If you stumble upon some jewel weed in your woodland travels, take some time to appreciate this gem of an herb.
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