Here in Phoenicia Jewelweed blooms in late August/early September. However Poison Ivy dermatitis, the ill for which Jewelweed is touted as a cure, is happening to woods-walkers right now. I haven’t seen a bumper crop of toxicodendron radicans like this in years!
At this stage of growth Poison Ivy is low to the ground, making it easy for bare ankles to brush against without you ever seeing the plant. As the cure follows the illness in the Catskills, it is prudent to modify behavior and wear long pants and socks. What a concept—modifying behavior to lessen harm.
Jewelweed has a nickname that touches on another stupid tendency: people who view being told not to do something as an irresistible call to action. So, when first told it’s called Touch-me-not, many cannot help but to touch the curious seed pods, which in turn explode. But not to worry on that front because impatiens capensis is native to the Catskills, so knock yourself out exploding those pods--just wear a mask in case you encounter other hikers.
Jewelweed has high levels of naphthoquinones, an effective anti-inflammatory for treating contact dermatitis. A randomized, double blind study in 2012 and follow up in 2015 found “Jewelweed mash was effective in reducing poison ivy dermatitis, supporting ethnobotanical use.” But the studies also suggested that soap was just as good a remedy.
Phoenicia Soap’s Jewelweed infusion was made last September, when the beautiful orange flowers were wild-crafted from stream banks here. We add frankincense oil (also anti-inflammatory), sweet birch oil (analgesic), and biochar (absorbs unwanted oils) in our seasonal Jewelweed Soap. We only make a few batches of this each year—so get it while it lasts!