Like a bit of hand-wrought golden jewelry set with tiny rubies, the flower of the jewel-weed sparkles in the morning sunshine streaming through the arching woodland trees. In the heavy soil of the river bottomlands, there where the shade is dense most of the day and most of the summer, the woods are covered with waist-high jungles of jewel-weed. It is one of the most abundant plants of the bottomlands. Its smooth coolness is in direct contrast to the unpleasant prickly plants of the stinging nettle which grow with the jewel-weed in many of these lowland localities.
Impatiens biflora Walt.
Summer Bottomland woods.
The jewel-weed is a frail watery plant with a translucent, jointed stem which pours forth mucilaginous, watery juice when cut or bruised. The plant branches abundantly to form a low bush with oval, scalloped leaves which wilt in hot sunshine or when picked. Among them are the small jewels which are the flowers. There is nothing else in the wild just like the jewel-weed flowers.
Spotted jewel-weed's blossom hangs like a pendant or an ear-drop from a slim stem which springs from the leaf-axil. The flower is pouched and has a curled-over "tail", the end of the trumpet in winch a bit of nectar lies. This lures the hummingbirds which visit the jewel-weed patches all day long and thrust slender beaks into the dangling flowers to get the nectar. The seeds soon form. When they are ripe, the thin-skinned covering of the seed-pod splits, curls, and ejects the seeds into the woods. At the touch of a passerby, the seed-pod simply collapses with disconcerting suddenness.