How in the world did they ever happen to call this pretty twinkling cup of a flower Jewel-weed? Well, just take a quiet snoop through any old family photo-album, that used to serve as the chief implement of torture to entertain "company" when our fathers and mothers were boys and girls. Turn to Aunt or Cousin So-and-So's likeness, any one of them, and note the great dangling earrings and pendant necklace, and you will soon grasp the suggestion that probably created this particular one of the several common names applied to the Jewel-weed. There may be other original sources, but I cannot think of any more kindred, whenever I stop to admire these curious flowers. It is also true that the leaves hold the dew and rain in glistening drops, but as diamond jewellery did not burden the country folks, who called the wild flowers familiarly by name, it seems safe to accept the old album's explanations, and let it go at that.
The Jewel-weed grows in rank, tropical and luxuriant profusion along water courses and about ponds, showing partiality, however, to shaded portions thereof. The smooth, hollow stem is ribbed and angular, translucent and juicy, and grows from two to five feet high. The large, broad, oval leaf alternates upon the stalk. It has a tapering tip, and a coarsely toothed margin. The texture is thin and the surface is smooth. Above, they are dull green, and underneath whitish. The veins show on the surface, and the stem is tinged with red. The singular flower is curiously arranged. The sepals and petals are of the same general colour, and the divisions of the calyx and corolla are extremely difficult to distinguish and describe in simple language. One of the sepals has developed into a conspicuous, horizontal, orange-yellow cornucopia, which tapers to a very slender recurved hook. Three other parts are prominently displayed - one as a hood, and the others, which are twice cleft, twist and flare outward and downward at the sides of the cup. They are thickly speckled with reddish brown dots, which become less noticeable on the lips and hood. The flowers dangle on slender stems and are extremely perishable, and wilt hopelessly when picked. As their flowering season advances, the plants develop self-fertilizing flower buds, which never open - after the manner described under certain of the Violets. The seed pods are very sensitive, and snap inside out upon the slightest provocation, and scatter the seeds to the four winds. For this reason the plant is called Touch-me-not. It may be found from July to October, and ranges from Nova Scotia to Oregon and Alaska, and south to Florida and Missouri. Pale Touch-me-not, I pallida, is a larger and stouter species, similar to the foregoing, and is more common northward. The flowers are pale yellow, sparingly spotted with red, or occasionally they are spotless. The pouch is broader, and the slightly hooked spur is much shorter. This species is found from July to September, and ranges from Quebec to Oregon, and south to Georgia and Kansas.