Virtual Discovery Station: Jewelweed

By Bernheim

The flowers of Jewelweed hang like little jewels.

Two species of jewelweed, the spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and yellow jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) can be found blooming in Bernheim from late June to early October. You can usually locate these native annuals growing in moist semi-shaded locations, such as the Bent Twig Trail. Sometimes it even grows near poison ivy where it might come in handy.

A jewelweed leaf submerged underwater shows off its “quicksilver” side.

Questions to Ponder at Bernheim: Jewelweed is a good nectar source for hummingbirds and insects with long tongues, such as bumblebees and clearwing moths. In the process of taking nectar, these creatures can help pollinate jewelweed plants. But there are other insects (some bees and wasps) that can ”steal” nectar without assisting with pollination. If you watch a patch of Jewelweed you might observe some of this sneaky behavior, and learn their secret.

Buried beneath the seed’s green outer layer hides a turquoise jewel, awaiting your discovery.

At Home Activities: If you have any jewelweed in your own backyard or neighborhood, try popping the ripe seed pods (the fat swollen ones) to see if you can measure how far the seeds can launch. Also crush one of the succulent stems to release the sap. Notice its mucilaginous quality. By all means, look for the hidden jewel inside the seed!

Links to Learn More:

Tales from the Bent Twig Trail: Hidden Jewels


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