In early spring, jewelweed sprouts alongside skunk cabbage in all those wet and swampy places we love to look but fear to trod. The soft, murky, marshy areas underneath the trees is usually too unstable to hold our footsteps, but just perfect for jewelweed, a member of the Impatiens family, to grow. These are the plants that have the yellow or orange flowers in the summer, and the same plants that boast the pods in the fall that pop out their spiraling mass of entrails (seeds), which is why they’re nick-named touch-me-not.
At the beginning of spring, look for little, light green sprouts popping through, similar to basil sprouts in that they have one large lobe on each side of the stalk—and that’s it. Each lobe has a little notch in the end, and they are very flat, round and pale green. This is a baby jewelweed, and at this stage it’s edible.
Simply snip off the top part of the sprout with your finger and thumb and collect in a basket; add these snips to your green salad for a delightful crunch and sweetness. Once the sprouts grow to about 4 inches tall, they’re getting too tough to be enjoyed as an edible. A true spring delicacy!
To Your Whole Life,