Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jewel Weed's Jewel

The younger kids visited Thomas More College during the open house this weekend.  They had an opportunity to stay overnight in the dormitories, eat and chat with students, and attend classes.  While they did that, Don and I had a pleasant time in Nashua.  Later, Don went to find cheap gas with supermarket gas points...he paid $1.09.  Woohoo!

Meanwhile, I explored the grounds of the college.  I must admit, I was quite surprised by the small size of the campus, and the wooded area surrounding the buildings.  The flora and fauna are typical NH...it smelled of pine!  

Behind the library, I found some jewel weed.  It has a pretty orange flower that sometimes attracts hummingbirds (though I saw none today).  Most of the plant had gone to seed, but a few blooms were left.

Jewel weed flowers

The real jewel of the weed is not the flower, though.  There are a few tales of how the weed got its name, but I like to think the seed hidden inside a spring-loaded pod is the reason.  Here's the pod on a small branch:
A few leaves with a seed pod

And here is the pod after I touched it (some people call the plant a touch-me-not).  As the sides of the pod peel suddenly away, the seeds shoot away.  If you release it correctly (I hold my hand around it) you will catch a seed or two.  The mature seed is covered with a green or brown coat.:
The seed revealed, with the pod peeled away

The small seed is less than a cm long, but if you carefully peel the coating off...
The jewel!
A tiny blue-green "jewel" of a seed is revealed.  Then, you can eat it!  It tastes a bit like an almond.

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Jennifer Gregory Miller said...

Oh, so neat, MacBeth! We just found these on our nature walk and I had identified them as "Touch-me-nots". I was getting a little bummed that I missed, but now I find they are the same. Now I can't wait to find the seed!

Melanie B said...

Aha! I took some very blurry pictures of flowers earlier this summer, hoping to identify them later. I'm pretty sure now that they were jewel weed. How lovely to be able to file that name away for the next time I stumble across them.