Herbalists know jewelweed (impatiens capensis) as a powerful anti-itch remedy that is safe and effective for mosquito bites and poison ivy, but when you’re out foraging for your summertime anti-itch medicine there’s also another tasty part of the plant to consider: the seeds.
The leaves and stalks are of questionable edibility, but the seedpods are a particularly special treat. Eaten carefully right off the plant, they pop in your mouth (which the kids love) and taste just like English walnuts.
Seriously. Straight up, full-on, walnut. Eyes closed you’d never know the difference.
It takes considerable care to harvest the seed pods from jewelweed without popping them, so Vermont farm kids raised in the ’50s and ’60s made a game of hunting down seedpods and carefully extracting them without popping them until they got them to their mouths.
Jewelweed reproduces by launching its seeds out in all directions when the pods are touched, much like the flowerbed impatiens that I grew up hunting down and popping for fun.
Thus, their other name, “touch me not plant.”
The flowers are also edible and make a colorful salad, but they lack the excitement and flavor of the seed pods. Ben Harrison Charles, the author of Eat the Weeds, warns that you should eat jewelweed in moderation because it’s so rich in minerals that it can cause digestive upset.
If you’re not used to eating nutrient-rich foods, watch how many you eat in a day until your body has gotten used to it.
In reality, the excess nutrients are not really a practical problem. Even the most devoted child can’t really consume that many jewelweed seeds. They take a good bit of time and patience to hunt down, even in a dense patch.
It’s good to know that in a survival situation, jewelweed seeds are not only tasty but nutrient-rich.
If you’d like to try growing jewelweed yourself, there’s a small local seed company here in Vermont called Earthbeat Seeds that sells Jewelweed Seeds (along with plenty of other hard-to-find seeds, for herbs as well as other tasty wild weeds and flowers).
Looking for more tasty edible weeds? I have foraging guides for literally dozens, including a foragers bucket list with hundreds of edible wild plants to find out in the woods and fields.
Have you ever made homemade jelly from the jewel flowers I cantfind anything on the web about it
Intersting…no I haven’t, but I wonder what it’d be like. I may try it this summer =)
Wow! I did not know this!
I have jewels weed growing wild and my kids are always popping the seed pods for fun but i didnt know they were edible!
What do I do to help with itching?
I have often made a tea out of the jewelweed leaves, stalks and flowers and then freeze it. This mixture can then be used topically on the skin or used as water in your homemade soap.
I have been hunting for and popping touch-me-nots since I was a kid. Now I have grandsons that I have taught to do the same. For all these years, I never knew you could eat the seed pods. I will show my grandsons – and my kids- this summer. My daughter and son-in-law have them growing on their property, and I have them growing on mine, also. So fun!
Great article. I eat the flowers they have a sweet taste with a spicy after taste. I love the seeds and have gotten pretty good at collecting them. I actually had some of the flowers with my breakfast this morning.
Wow! I never knew they were edible. I use the leaves and stalks to rub on my itchy arms after gardening. Grouse love the seeds and I propagate it in grouse areas.