Scientific Name: Eupatorium purpureum
Common Names: Joe-Pye Weed
Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial
Environment: Moist soil in full sun to part shade. Grows to 10 feet. Best sited as a background plant.
Bloom: Dusty rose to purple flowers borne in panicles late summer - early autumn.
Uses: Blooms attract insects and provide food for birds. Also known as "gravel root" this plant has a long history of medicinal use, folk remedies - particularly for use in the treatment of kidney stones.
Stand with your back to the Zellerbach Garden of Perennials, look down the broad avenue of lawn in front of you and clumps of Joe-Pye weed are on your right, 10 feet tall, their rosy domes bowing in the breeze - a wildflower that in six months grows as tall as a small tree.
It blooms in late summer in meadows and at the edge of woodlands in eastern America, and throughout Mexico and central America, part of the huge genus, Eupatorium, that contains 1000 species including "Boneset" and "Snakeroot." Joe-Pye weed's multi-panicles of rose pink disk flowers have a vanilla scent and attract bees and butterflies. The sturdy stem with its many whorls of leaves is flushed with purple at the nodes.
Joe-Pye weed's whimsical name, legend tells us, was that of an Indian witch doctor in colonial New England who supposedly cured Indians and Pilgrims alike from typhoid fever, nervous disorders, and kidney problems with tea made from its leaves.
IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Photos by Joanne Taylor, Text by Kathy McNeil, Profile by Fred Bové