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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - August 28, 2005

From: Alexandria, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Medicinal Plants
Title: Medicinal uses of Orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What is the best way to extract the juice from the jewelweed plant? And, what can you do with it after that? I know it is considered a remedy for poison ivy and various other skin irritations. So then, how can one harness the power of the jewelweed? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is claimed to relieve the itching of poison ivy and has been scientifically confirmed to act as a fungicide against athelete's foot. Here are more photos and information from Missouri Plants. According to Delena Tull ("Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest". University of Texas Press. 1987) to prepare it for treating poison ivy one should: "...boil the leaves and succulent stems for a few minutes, the cooled liquid pacifies the itch temporarily and seems to help dry up the bumps."

You can read about Native American use of jewelweed in the Native American Ethnobotany database from the University of Michigan. Another reference for its medicinal properties can be found in Plants for a Future and here are more suggestions for its use.
 

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