Orange Jewelweed

Written by charlie   
Friday, 11 September 2015 00:00
Orange Jewelweed, (Impatiens capensis) popularly known as a "Touch me not", is a wetland plant native to most of the lower 48 states. It is known for its striking orange flowers and its unique method of seed dispersal, along with its saps ability to relive the itch of poison ivy and fight Athletes foot.

Jewelweed is a fragile summer annual, growing between 2-5 feet tall, with reddish green stems. The thin oval leaves have some sawteeth along the edges, and are typically 2.5 inches long by 1.25 inches wide, but can reach up to 5 inches long by 2½ inches. The plant is thought to get its name in either one or two ways, either the brilliant color of the flower, or by the way the leaves appear to be Silver-gilt when held underwater, due to tiny air bubbles trapped on the leafs surface.

Jewelweed blooms for about 2 months from mid-summer through early fall, and thrives in direct sunlight and areas with higher levels of nitrogen. Post bloom, a five section seed capsule forms and begins swelling and tensing in preparation to disperse its seeds. A slight brush, stiff breeze or unaware insect can trigger a seedpod to burst, tossing seed up to 4 feet away like birdshot. A few plants can spread seed over the immediate area, reliably reseed itself to form a thick colony the following year.

Orange Jewelweed is a major source of food for hummingbirds, its estimated that each flower can produce up 2.5ml of nectar daily. Bees also play an important role in pollination, but when taking the below pictures below, bumblebees buzzed around the flowers but infrequently landed.

A video of the seeds dispersing here:

And some photos I took this summer of the plant and a closeup of the flower:

Jewelweed Flower - Wetland Plant


More info here:
Missouri Botanical Gardens
Illinois Wildflowers - Jewelweed Missouri Botanical Gardens
The Book of Swamp and Bog, John Eastman
Last Updated on Sunday, 13 September 2015 15:00

Giant Salamander

Written by charlie   
Saturday, 05 September 2015 01:03
Im always amazed by the giant salamanders of Japan, they seem like something from an old school Godzilla movie! Up to 6 feet long -- seriously. When was the last time you saw a salamander larger that...4-6 inches?

YouTube never disappoints, check it out for yourself:


Cardinal flower

Written by charlie   
Wednesday, 02 September 2015 00:00
The Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis L.) , an obligate wetland perennial found throughout much of the United States, is now in bloom. Its deep red, narrow, bell shaped flowers bloom in late Summer from a stalk ranging between 2-6 feet tall. True to its namesake, the deep red color is reminiscent of a Roman Catholic Cardinal's frock. In the photo below, I found a 2.5 foot specimen in bloom, happily growing in a mucky lakeside.

While the color is attractive to insects, the long, narrow flowers makes it difficult for them to navigate, and the Cardinal flower largely relies on hummingbirds for pollination.

Cardinal Flower - Wetland Plant

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