Jewelweed is a pretty flower, a sparkly wonder, a trailside snack, and a soothing skin treatment. What's not to love?
Water beads up on the dusky-colored leaves of jewelweed, creating sparkling jewels after a rain. According to Steve Brill, they also look beautiful underwater: the undersides of the leaves will turn silvery.
Jewelweed also provides food for wildlife: the bright, trumpet-shaped flowers can attract hummingbirds and butterflies. If you sit by a patch for a little while, you're sure to at least see bees crawling inside the flowers for the nectar.
The flowers and seeds are just a little nibble for us humans. But jewelweed has been highly valued for centuries as a treatment for skin irritation. It turns out that it includes one of the active components of Preparation H. No special preparation is necessary -- just break a stem or crush up several leaves, and rub the juice on the irritated area.
Jewelweed is also said to prevent a poison ivy rash, if you rub the area that has been exposed to poison ivy with jewelweed juices soon after exposure. Steve Brill also claims it can be used to soothe warts, bruises, fungal infections, burns, cuts, eczema, acne, and any other skin irritations; his website describes how to make a tincture or ointment to keep at home.
In the wild: Jewelweed is common in this area along streams and in wet areas, typically in partly shady areas.
In your yard: If you have a moist spot, you could try growing some. Jewelweed is said to be easy to start from seed (but we've never tried).