Joe Pye Weed

Eupatorium or Eutrochium

Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye Weed

Here’s a tall native wildflower that has large, serrated, whorled leaves and masses of rose pink blooms in late summer.  Joe Pye weed grows 4 to 7 feet in height and enjoys life in all sorts of damp places in southwest Virginia.

Believe it or not, Joe Pye weed is a composite in the Family Asteraceae. Unlike the common daisy however, this flower completely lacks ray flowers; it is the tiny disk flowers that put on all the show! Hundreds of these small flowers make up larger, flat-topped, terminal clusters.

Joe Pye
Joe Pye Weed- this aster lacks ray flowers

According to American folklore, a medicine man named Joe Pye commonly used a tea made from this plant to break fevers and treat kidney problems. As his reputation for success spread, “Joe Pye’s weed” became widely used as a medicinal herb for people living in the New England area. Because it was thought so effective in the treatment of kidney stones in particular, another common name for this plant was Gravel Root.

Swallowtail butterflies, skippers, and bees are drawn to the abundant nectar in Joe Pye flowers. On a sunny afternoon, this community of insects and flowers is really a sight to behold. Be sure to look for it on your next outing.  It typically grows beside ponds and seeps or lines trails, fence rows and roadsides that traverse wet places.

Bloom time is July through September. Several different species of this “pink-flowering boneset” occur in our area, each with subtle differences in stem color or number of leaves per whorl.

Click on any photo below to open the slideshow.

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