Q: I heard you on the radio tell about a native plant in the impatiens family that is a good treatment for poison ivy. Can you tell me the name of it so that I can get some and plant it in my yard?
A: The radio caller reported that balsam impatiens, Impatiens balsamina, was effective for controlling her poison ivy symptoms. Native plant experts have long contended that wild jewelweed, Impatiens capensis, is a poison ivy remedy. They say that crushing the stem and rubbing the sap on the rash makes it go away.
I have used neither but you are welcome to try. Balsam impatiens is an heirloom flower. You can sometimes find the seed advertised in the Georgia Farmers & Consumers Market Bulletin (800-282-5852).
Jewelweed can be found growing wild along semi-sunny creek banks and mountain roadsides. The easiest time to recognize it is in August, when the flowers are prominent.
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