Herb: Jewelweed

Latin name: Impatiens capensis

Synonyms: Impatiens biflora, Impatiens fulva

Family: Balsaminaceae (Touch-me-not Family)

Medicinal use of Jewelweed:

Jewelweed was commonly used as a medicinal herb by a number of native North American Indian tribes, and has been widely used in domestic medicine. Its main value lies in its external application for wounds and a range of skin complaints. However, it is little used in modern herbalism and is considered to be dangerous and "wholly questionable" when used internally. The herb is antidote, cathartic, diuretic and emetic. An infusion has been used in the treatment of fevers, difficult urination, measles, stomach cramps, jaundice etc. The juice of the leaves is used externally in the treatment of piles, fungal dermatitis, nettle stings, poison ivy rash, burns etc. The sap is used to remove warts. A poultice of the leaves is applied to bruises, burns, cuts etc.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Along the banks of rivers and canals, also in low-lying moist woodlands, avoiding acid soils.

Edible parts of Jewelweed:

The succulent stems, whilst still young and tender, can be cut up and cooked like green beans. Young leaves and shoots - cooked. They contain calcium oxalate crystals. Calcium oxalate is usually destroyed by thorough cooking. Large quantities of the leaves are purgative. See also the notes above on toxicity.

Other uses of the herb:

The fresh juice obtained from the plant is a fungicide. This juice can be concentrated by boiling it. A yellow dye has been made from the flowers. It can be made from the whole plant.

Propagation of Jewelweed:

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Along the banks of rivers and canals, also in low-lying moist woodlands, avoiding acid soils.

Known hazards of Impatiens capensis:

Regular ingestion of large quantities of these plants can be dangerous due to their high mineral content. This report, which seems nonsensical, might refer to calcium oxalate. This mineral is found in I. capensis and so is probably also in other members of the genus. It can be harmful raw but is destroyed by thoroughly cooking or drying the plant. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones and hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.