I can’t believe this is the same plant!

When most plants emerge from the ground, they do not look like their mature version at first. They look very different and are quite difficult to identify. This spring, I have been testing myself and attempting to identify plants before they are fully developed. One of the big challengers was Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). When it emerges, all that appears is the cotyledon leaves, which are not considered “true leaves.” The cotyledon is part of the embryo within the seed of a plant. Upon germination, the Jewelweed becomes the embryonic first leaves. Unlike the mature leaves, they are rounded and heart shaped.young jewelweedNotice how the mature plant is quite different.


Jewelweed is one of my favorite plants to teach people to identify (second to Poison Ivy) because it relieves the allergic reaction to Poison Ivy. Recently, I co-led a 5 day hiking course at Mathew’s school. For the most part, it was about hiking and not about identification or understanding ecosystems ~ the kids wanted to hike and explore on their own. Nevertheless, I could not stop myself from teaching them how to identify Jewelweed and Poison Ivy.  On the fourth day, a bunch of the kids did some exploring and then noticed they were in the middle of a patch of Poison Ivy. One fellow shouted, where’s the Jewelweed?! My job was done.

Do yourself a favor, learn how to identify Jewelweed and Poison Ivy, whether you like to hike in the woods or do yard work. You will not regret it.

All information is shared for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition.