by Wayne Pauly from Dane County Parks ACTION Adult Conservation Team Newsletter (All folklore stories)
I am saddened by how few people know about the simple pleasures of Jewel weed. You find this orange flowered succulent annual in wet open areas, while the yellow flowered ones are in the sunlit openings of wet woodlands.
Named jewel weed for the water droplets on leaf margins, sparkling like diamonds in the morning sun. The other common names touch-me-not and quick-in-the-hand describe the behavior of seed pods. Shaped like miniature green bananas, when bumped the sides fly apart, coil up, and catapult the seeds. One group of children wondered if we could cross jewel weed with other plants to get self peeling bananas and oranges. Imagine their fun, running fingers down the fruit aisle at Woodmans, bananas and oranges exploding in all directions.
Have a trusting friend close their eyes and hold out a hand, then gently deposit several seed pods, and watch them jump when they close their hand and the pods come alive, quick-in-the-hand. Then you might consider tasting a seed whose flavor is reminiscent of walnuts.
The stems transform from translucent green to rust red with the first fall frost and collapse across the marsh waiting for the blanket of pure white snow.