In spring, shallow-rooted succulent shoots start to crowd a narrow space on the hillside.

Some, through summer, succumb to stiff winds, fallen branches, strangling vines, or the trampling browse of animals.

In July and August, those still standing may flower.

Here appears Impatiens capensis, the spotted jewelweed, orange touch-me-not.

101_2022edcropE101_2101edcropC101_3526edcropB101_3397edcropD
Come September, the pregnant seed pods seem poised to expel another generation at the slightest prod.

101_3413edcropBNow complementing the precious few plants that remain, residual gems of recent rains make it easy to see how jewelweed might have earned its name.

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[Click here to see last year’s post on yellow jewelweed .]

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100_4672cropVExploding seed pods.  

Native remedy for poison ivy.

Neither well-known trait is readily apparent in early spring.

Rather, one comes to know the jewelweed along Little Crum Creek as a numerous but delicate and easily uprooted plant, bejeweling raindrops on repellant leaves of succulent chutes, and otherwise wilting worrisomely in the sunlight heat.

Its fragility, resilience, and recovery inspire a gentle watchfulness, even a tested vigilance. 

Nonetheless, many a vulnerable weed succumbs to a sneaking, creeping vine’s smother and tug.

April, May, June, July. 100_6259cropV

By August, we’ve cultivated quite a patient acquaintance. 

But only a flower, finally, will fully reveal to me the plant’s identity.  

Then, suddenly, some unassuming afternoon in the maple shade,  a low breeze displaces a leaf and shows to me a flowering face:

Impatiens pallida,

pale touch-me-not,

yellow jewelweed.

Very pleased to finally meet.

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