What Is It?

God, how I love an overnight rainfall. There is nothing more optimistic than waking up to a bright and sunny day with the soil moist and fresh smelling. These are the perfect conditions for weeding. The softened soil makes it easy to slip weedlings (a spelling slip that I’m not gonna change) from the soil, and the pleasant atmosphere brings an added sense of joy to the task.

I’ve made it a habit over the years to learn about and identify as many plants in the seedling stage as I can so that I know at a glance who stays and who goes. Some seedlings are worth cultivating, but others just suck up nutrients and space — the sooner you can get them out the better.

The mystery seedling with just the seed leaves showing.

A handful of one particular type of seedling that I can not identify has been coming up in a section of the garden. They seem too delicate to be a tree, but don’t look like anything I have grown or even seen before. Some seedlings do change dramatically as they age, so there’s always the chance that they are something I am growing. They could have come in with the wind or birds but I don’t see them in my neighbors’ yard, yet many are situated near the fence. They could have come in the soil with some plants I planted last year… I can’t say for certain where they hailed from, but I do want to know what they are. They are delicate and pretty little things. Their beauty has bought them some time as well as my curiosity.

Can you identify these seedlings? I’m so eager to know I will send one of our t-shirts, any size or style to the first person that can correctly identify them.

Your help is appreciated!

UPDATE: Thanks to Kristen who identified the seedling as jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). The plant came in through a bush I bought at last year’s Parkdale Horticultural Society Plant Fair and I left it because it’s such a useful medicinal plant. I completely forgot about it until Kristen made the identification.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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12 thoughts on “What Is It?

    • YES! I think you’re right. As soon as I read your comment I remembered that some came in the soil of a plant that I bought at a sale last year. I’m going to email you for your address and tee choice.

  1. I thought it was some form of Impatiens too. Keep an eye on it it could turn out to be one of those alien monster Impatiens that has invaded High Park.

  2. Jewel Weed tincture is an excellent cure for an itchy Poison Ivy rash. Applied to the skin, the tincture will dry up the rash in no time. (Not sure if Poison Ivy is a problem where you are, but I always manage to get a touch of it around my wrists and between fingers from weeding in the garden.)

  3. I love jewel weed! I made a salve out of it last year and it works for everything! I use it to erase mosquito bites and heal cuts and dry skin. I couldn’t believe how well this stuff works, you cannot buy anything even close in a store!

  4. You mean this aggressive thing that I rip out as fast as I can so it doesn’t take over my entire property is actually useful?! Maybe I should allocate a little corner for it to do its thing.

  5. What timing! I just got an email from a friend saying she had found a bunch of it at her house and did I want any seedlings. If one were going to plant it on purpose, does it enjoy shadier or sunnier conditions. Of course, from the comments above, I’m guessing it will probably grow just about anywhere! ;)

  6. I am so sharing your comment about nutrient sucking with my husband. He gets so excited about anything growing in our garden that he fights me about pulling weeds!

  7. time will tell if seedling is jewelweed-with cute orange flowers BUT beware of agressive reseeding as plant is also known as touch-me not,pods explode releasing seeds everywhere!

  8. Looks like Jewel Weed to me they are in the same family as impatiens. They are a Native North American wildflower common in moist woodlands they especially like to grow near creeks. They are a great treatment for poison Ivy,oak, sumac. They have chemicals in them that break down the poison and help stop itching.

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