You know what they say about assuming.
For years, running along this boardwalk- nearly weekly- based on some of the plants before me – the Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica), Phragmites & purple loosestrife, I assumed that all the plants that congregated in this marshy area at the head of the Alewife Brook were invasive. I ran right by a beautiful little treasure that I want to highlight today. A wonderful native annual that is in the same family as a common annual you may have in your yard or in a container on your porch.
Impatiens capensis or Jewelweed.
Jewelweed gets it’s common name from how drops of dew collect and shimmer like jewels on this marshy-loving annual’s leaves. It’s orangy-yellow bilateral flowers bloom through most of the summer. They hang under the leaves and don’t look much at all like it’s well known cousin- Impatiens walleriana. But the impatien family is vast and the shady planter box favorite is just one of many in this geographically well distributed genus. (Also above- a little swamp milkweed for fun)
However, when you pick one of jewelweed’s slender seed pods and give it a little squeeze, you are immediately reminded of the common nursery annual. The pods burst with gusto, inverting into a swirly shape- sending seeds out in every-which-way.
So thank you jewelweed. Thank you for reminding me to look carefully and look twice. Even in human disturbed areas saturated with invasives, wonderful native specimens may be holding their own. I will no longer assume!
Have you encountered any unexpected floral treasures when you looked twice? Or like me, is there a patch near you full of invasives that you want to give a second look to?