Jewelweed: A True Gem


| 10/31/2019 9:07:00 AM


Mary LewisOne of my fatal flaws is insatiable curiosity. My dad calls it “got-to-know-itis.” So, when I see something new, I try to find out information about it. And that’s where my jewelweed story begins.

My husband and I were hiking one of the beautiful trails here in Minnesota when I saw a pretty plant next to a creek. The blooms looked like tiny orange orchids, and I was smitten. When we got home, I opened Google on my laptop, and started searching. I discovered this orchid like flower is called jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

Jewelweed is a common plant that grows in moist, semi-shady areas throughout the northern and eastern areas of North America. It thrives in floodplain forests and around the forested edges of wetlands. Jewelweed contains a compound called lawsone, in its leaves, proven to have antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. According to the USDA, “Jewelweed has a long history of use in Native American medicine. When applied topically, sap from the stem and leaves is said to relieve itching and pain from a variety of ailments, including hives, poison ivy, stinging nettle, and other skin sores and irritations. The sap has also been shown to have anti-fungal properties and can be used to treat athlete’s foot.”

After doing my research, I figured someone must have a way to preserve jewelweed for use when it’s no longer in season, so I did a little more digging. And, yes, of course, I found that the sap can be infused into a carrier oil, and then made into a salve.

flowering jewelweed plant
Photo by Katera/AdobeStock



A friend of mine has a large patch of jewelweed growing on her land, and she was happy to let me harvest some back in August. I cut about 20 2-foot-long stems. Then I cut those into 1-inch pieces, added them to small jars and just covered them with olive and almond oil, and let them simmer in a couple inches of water in a crock pot for about 6 hours. (I set the lids on top of the jars loosely to keep the condensation out of the oil.) Once the oil had cooled, I poured the contents of the jars through a fine sieve into a measuring cup. I wanted the infused oil, not the jewelweed stems. Then I poured the oil back into the jars.





Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters