Monday, September 04, 2006

Touch-me-not

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.

9 comments:

Linda said...

The kids love to make them explode. There are quite a few growing along the railroad walk in New Hampshire.

shiloh said...

I have similiar weeds in my garden but the leaves are clover-shaped. They have the same seed pods,though, and when you touch them they explode tiny white seeds all over the place. Obviously in a garden, you want to pick them before they get to this point. I was lax on gardening this year (may have had to do with planning a wedding...)and it was very comical trying to gently weed them without letting them explode sending out hundreds of seeds to deal with as weeds later! Lesson learned: it's easier to pull one weed today than 50 next year......

Mostly Torn said...

Oh! Those plants with the clover-shaped leaves are another one I was trying to describe to my friends on the hike. I used to eat those plants when I was a kid. They tasted kind of sour, if I recall correctly. Even the pods tasted pretty good. I think mom or dad said they were ok to eat.

Mom said...

I don't remember EVER telling you they were okay to eat! Clover, yes.

Mostly Torn said...

Ha! Well someone told me it was ok to eat. And look here. I'm pretty sure that's the clover-like plant I was referring too. It's called wood sorrel and according to Georgetown University, native Americans used to eat it. Just don't eat too much. It's bad for your kidneys.

shiloh said...

Sorry, mom, but I seem to remember you saying they were okay to eat, too.....I remember them tasting sour also. Maybe you said we could eat clover and as kids we thought that meant anything with clover shaped leaves?????

shiloh said...

hmmm.......didn't mom used to tell us it was okay to eat acorns too, and they're also bad for your kidneys....maybe having 5 kids was getting to her....

Mostly Torn said...

Yeah, that might explain why when I was only 4 or 5 years old I was "accidentally" left behind home alone when the family went to Rocky Point. Though, it probably would have been a more successful strategy to bring me to Rocky Point and then forget me.

daniel (your nephew) said...

My friend said that he had some plant that was sour when you chewed it and his mom said it was ok to eat too. When we found it it did taste sour and was clover shaped.