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Beautify your garden with wild flowers

Posted on Jun 28, 2006

Wild Balsam, Snap Weed or Silver cap, they are all different names for the same plant- Impatiens bi-flora. This wild plant can be up to five feet tall. It starts to flower from July and it flowers for the next three months till October. It is found in Oregon, and southwards in Florida and Missouri. The plant thrives well on moist soil, therefore it can be found in ditches, in ponds and besides streams. It is known for its irregular yellow orange flowers which have reddish brown spots on them. The flowers can be up to one inch in length. The plant has an oblong shaped capsule seed pod out of which seeds are expelled when ripe. Its leaves are toothed, thin and pale at the bottom. Jewel weed, Lady’s Eardrops and Spotted Touch-me-not are other common names that are used for this plant.

The bright and beautiful flowers of this plant hang horizontally and they look like jewels hanging form a lady’s ear. That’s the reason that this plant is called Jewel-weed. However there are other things also which are responsible for its folk name like the leaves of this plant look studded with gems on a dewy morning. The gems sparkle in the sun and this was yet another reason for people to name it Jewel weed. Scatter a dip of the plant in wayside trough, pond or a brook and the leaves will transform into glossy silver.

The flower is humming bird’s favorite. The bird is attracted by its scarlet colored cup and carries pollen thereby fertilizing the flower. The flowers hanging jewel weeds also attract the bird when it flies northwards in summer. The trumpet vine and the cardinal flower also attract the humming birds when it moves outside the tropics. Though some irregular flashy flowers like salvia, nasturtiums and cannas can drive the bird away.

We are all familiar with the sensitive seed pods of this plant. The seeds just fly out once you touch the hair trigger which is there at the end of a capsule. The seeds fly out in a flash and leave you amazed. The seeds fly a long distance can land as far as four feet away. Children love to see these seeds fly!

There is also a Pale Touch-me-not which is also called the Impatiens aurea. This plant grows in the same condition as the Impatiens biflora. It is also shares the same common names like Jewel weed, silver cap etc. with its sister i.e. Impatiens biflora. Its flowers are also yellow colored though somewhat pale with very few dots. Usually the dots are not present on its flowers.

Red-root or Wild Snowball starts to flower from May and flowers till July. Its botanical name is Ceanothus americanus .It is found in Ontario in the south and Gulf of Mexico in the west. The flower thrives well in thickets and dry woods which are open. The flowers are small and white colored. They grow in clusters and are crowded together. This bushy plant has a reddish deep root. Its leaves are oblong shaped and their edges are saw-toothed.

These clustered white flowers were unable to catch the attention of the frugal colonial housewives of Revolutionary days. What caught their attention were the young and tender leaves of this plant. They dried the leaves as used it in place of imported tea. This way they added sweetness to this beverage without using sugar. A dye is made from its reddish root which is either cinnamon or nankeen colored. This plant was also used by the American troops all through the war. The plant is also known as New Jersey Tea.

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