Digging Deeper Vol. 16

“Jewelweed Juice” Helps Relieve Skin Irritations

A friend had discovered a “shrub-like” wildflower on a visit to Whitewater Falls, and the remnants of the orange flowers and leaves she brought back for me to identify were just too shriveled and dried, and so I knew I could count on Bill Head at Head-Lee Nursery to come to my aid.  Bill is always making treks all across the Southeast in search of native plants to introduce into the trade, and sure enough, he knew right away that my mystery plant was Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).  There is also a species with pale yellow flowers, Impatiens pallida.

Using the Internet to do more research, I quickly learned that the sap from the crushed stems of jewelweed is a virtual panacea for all sorts of skin irritations, including my old nemesis, poison ivy.  According to experts on medicinal plants, if you accidentally touch poison ivy and apply jewelweed juice to the affected area before the rash appears, you probably won’t get the rash.  American Indians treat the already-developed poison ivy rash by rubbing jewelweed’s broken stem on the rash until it draws some blood.  The rash then dries out; a scab forms and healing occurs.

These same experts say that if you apply the juice to insect bites and bee and wasp stings, you should expect some relief, especially if it is applied soon after the event.  It is also a recommended treatment for warts, bruises, fungal skin infections, minor burns, cuts, acne, sores and any other skin irritations. 

 ‘Tokyo Tower’ Chinese Fringe Tree Features Year-Round Interest

Chionanthus retusus ‘Tokyo Tower,’ or Chinese fringe tree, is a perfect small to medium tree choice for area landscapes offering year-round interest and excellent performance with little extra attention, even in our heat and humidity.  As we begin the optimum months for planting, now is also the perfect time to install this and other carefully selected specimens from Head-Lee Nursery to your gardens.

This Asian, fastigiated-form, deciduous relative of our native fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus, also known as Grandfather’s Graybeard, flowers a little later in spring (May-June), but it is worth the wait, covered in spectacular panicles of snowy-white, very fragrant flowers that capture center stage almost overnight.  Even though this specimen prefers full sun, it will tolerate partial shade, needing at least 6 hours minimum.

The lustrous, dark-green, oval shaped leaves grab the attention throughout the summer months, and the flowers become dark-blue berries by fall, attracting birds of all types to dine.  The leathery foliage turns pale yellow in autumn, before dropping in mid to late November, giving way to the fantastic display of tan-and-gold, exfoliating bark, that continues throughout the winter and early spring.

With a hardiness rating for Zones 3 through 9 and its ability to grow in any “average, well-drained” soil, ‘Tokyo Tower’ adapts well and is easy to grow here in the Southeast.  Specimens grow 20-30 feet tall with a spread of 15-25 feet, and develop good heat and moderate drought resistance within just two years after planting.

By Guest Author Randy Peele

As has always been the case with my garden writings, I would like very much for all of you to interact with me in “Digging Deeper.”  Recommended topics, critiques, opinions, questions, etc. all are encouraged and welcomed, and I look forward to hearing from you by e-mail at email@headleenursery.com.