In late July, early August, jewelweed plants (Impatiens capensis) have been setting buds and are beginning to blossom. Jewelweed is an annual plant that has to set out seeds if the species will continue to thrive in the coming year..
Jewelweed actually throws its seeds when they have ripened, popping out of their shell to the delight of children who are still fortunate enough to explore our less-tamed environs and discover that just a light touch will make the seeds fly out. I actually first met Jewelweed through a child - a niece of mine - who delighted in scrambling around fence posts into fields of wildflowers to show me this fun activity of popping the seed heads.
There is a large stand of Jewelweed on our property I have been watching all season. The deer have as well, apparently, because the other day I saw they had been munching on this tasty plant and trampling it a bit as well. In all honesty, Jewelweed is not sturdy and does not stand up to any one crashing around in it - deer, human or beagle! So, it seemed to be the perfect time to harvest my share of this amazing plant. I'd been putting it off because the native thorny black raspberries also like this particular location which meant I'd be in the "thicket" of it, too!
When I harvest it, I cut cleanly above a leaf node fairly low on the fleshy stem. This allows the plant to easily send out new branches so the flowering can continue. I collected enough to make tea and to make a tincture to hopefully make enough soap and Jewelweed Juice to make it through until a year from now.
Whether the goal is tea or tincture, the plants are broken up - or folded - to help fit into the pot as well as to release its potency. When I make the tea, I use about 1 part plant material to 10 parts water (use distilled or really good well-water, not municipal treated water), bring the water to a near boil then lid the pot and shut off the heat. After it cools, I pour it into freezer containers, label it and freeze it. For a tincture, I submerge the plant in 100-proof organic grain alcohol and then keep it in a sunny place for 4 to 6 weeks. The alcohol is strained out, bottled, corked, labeled.