Monday, June 8, 2015

Stinging Nettle V. Jewelweed

Top: Stinging nettle  Bottom: Jewelweed

While on a a hike through Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve yesterday, we encountered stinging nettle, Urtica dioica.  The moment that our bare legs brushed past it a burning, indeed, stinging sensation radiated from that area of skin.  At first I thought, I'll walk it off, but then it became more intense, so I mentioned it to my wife.  She too had touched it and was experiencing the very same thing that I was.  So, I set about to do the only thing a reasonable person deep in the woods can do:  I searched around for jewelweed, Impatiens capensis.  Jewelweed isn't flowering yet, but I know that it has a somewhat succulent appearing stem, and the leaves are a bit distinctive, and there are no dermatologically hazardous look-a-likes.
After a few minutes of searching I found what I thought was some jewelweed.  I plucked a few stems with leaves, crushed them to get at the pulp and juice of the inner plant, and began rubbing it on my lower legs.  Immediately I felt a cooling sensation.  I repeated the same thing on my wife, and she felt immediate relief as well.  Jewelweed is good for almost any skin irritation, even poison ivy.  A good tip to know when you're in the woods.

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