While on a short hike through the woods with some friends, I was talking about a plant I remembered when I was a kid. It had orange flowers and small seed pods that "exploded" when you tapped them. Neither of my friends were familiar with the plant and I started to wonder how I could find a good description of it to know what the plant really was. As it turns out, today I noticed a bunch of these plants growing along the edge of the dojo parking lot. Here's a picture:
The pod is visible directly under the orange flower. If the pods are ripe, when they are bumped they split open and seeds go flying in all directions. I remember when I was a kid I'd enjoy seeing chain reactions go off when the seeds from one bursting pod would hit other pods, causing those to split open. It's pretty odd to see.
Now that I have a picture of the plant, it was easy enough to look up in my Audubon Field Guide to North American Wildflowers. It's called a Spotted Touch-me-not, or Jewelweed. According to the field guide, "the stem juice of the plant is said to relieve itching from poison ivy and has also been used to treat athlete's foot. Scientific data confirm the fungicidal qualities." I guess the scientists are still debating the anti-itching qualities.