Description: Natural Order, Balsaminaceae. In the same family with the balsam so much cultivated in our gardens for its beautiful flowers, and noteworthy for its large, succulent, and almost transparent amber-colored stems. The genus has several species indigenous to the United States, growing in masses in rich soils, along the line of spring rills where there is good shade. Stem two to four feet high, juicy, very tender, amber-colored, with the joints swollen. Leaves alternate, without stipules, petioled, ovate, toothed, thin, soft. Calyx and corolla large, yellow, usually confounded; the posterior sepal (apparently the anterior, as the flower hangs on its stalk) large and forming a dilated sac at the base, tipped with an incurved spear; petals of two united and dotted pairs; stamens five, short. Fruit cylindrical, an inch long, of five valves, which contract spirally when ripe, bursting the capsule and scattering the seeds with a sudden spring. July to September.
Properties and Uses: This plant is a relaxant, with a full share of stimulating properties, an infusion acting somewhat promptly. It influences the kidneys, gall-ducts, and bowels; and has been well spoken of by Rafinesque and Bigelow in jaundice and dropsy, but is probably too feeble to effect much. Its outward application is most valuable; and is suitable to foul ulcers, ring-worm and other forms of tetter, and to piles. It may be used as a wash, or made into a strong ointment. D. II. Stafford, M. D., of Newcastle, Ind., informs me that, when a young man, he was bitten on the leg by a venomous snake; the limb swelled up enormously, became purplish-green through nearly its entire length; and he became delirious, and sank till his life was wholly despaired of. He was effectually cured by large masses of jewel-weed, bruised and applied to the entire limb, and changed as the mass became warm. Relief was obtained almost at once, (§239;) and the recovery was rapid. The facts in this case suggest that this plant may be found valuable in arresting mortification under other circumstances.
The Physiomedical Dispensatory, 1869, was written by William Cook, M.D.
It was scanned by Paul Bergner at http://medherb.com