Let's take a little trip down memory lane to my very early childhood. It was a week before the first day of preschool and my new teacher Mrs. Perritz had just stopped by my house to meet me. We walked out into my back yard and that is when I learned about this adorable little plant. She delicately plucked a seed pod off the plant and told me to hold out my hand....KAPLOOEY! The pod exploded, sending me off giggling and the seeds inside the pod shooting into the air. It was love at first explosion. We did it again and this time held onto one of the seeds. She then scraped off the outer layer of green skin, exposing a bright turquoise blue seed, well, jewel.
This is jewel weed. They have delicate seed pods that when ripe, pop and shoot their seeds out when touched. So anytime a little creature goes to eat the seeds at least a few will escape and propagate. You can imagine how thrilling this was for a little 3 year old horticulturalist. Over the years I have always looked forward to late summer when these plants start to take over. I have also learned that while the exploding seeds with the secret blue hue are wicked fun, these plants have a couple other cool secrets too.
The seeds are edible. I hope none of us are ever lost in the woods but if we are and it's late summer, look out for the jewel weed and have yourself a snack! The little blue seeds inside the pod are tiny but tasty and for their size provide you with at least a few calories. I've tried them, they're nutty and great.
The stems of the plant are a cure for poison oak and poison ivy. While its best to just stay away from those awful plants, sometimes accidental run-ins happen. Mash up the stem of the jewel weed plant to make a poultice and apply to the effected area. This is also a natural remedy for stinging nettles, insect bites and stings, and even acne.
Moral of the story: Weeds are plants too, and we should show them a little love.