You belong among the wildflowers. You belong somewhere you feel free. ~Tom Petty
I absolutely adore my wildflowers, and coming into bloom this month is one of my favorites, Joe-Pye weed or Eutrochium purpureum (also known as Eupatorium purpureum) part of the Aster Family (Asteracea). I just love the look of its large, puckered leaves as they emerge in almost iridescent colors. The colorful display continues as the purple stems grow and mature from 3-6 feet high, and the flower buds begin to emerge.
Then you are treated to the most gorgeous pinkish mauve (some say even a bit of lavender) flower head. The vanilla scented flowers emerge from many branches making the display quite magnificent. And the pollinators just love this plant for later summer nectar. It is even gorgeous with its seed heads in fall that last throughout winter.
Now I did not always love Joe because of his cavalier way of popping up all over the garden, but this was before I knew about how wonderful native plants could be. I now welcome him where he lands and only cull him out when he finds a most inappropriate spot at the front of a border. I am trying to get Joe to spread in the meadow this year. I may need to give him a hand though.
So I think Joe is a perfect pick for Gail@Clay and Limestone wonderful meme, Wildflower Wednesday.
Joe-Pye goes by many other names. He has been called: Kidney-root, Sweet-scented Joe-Pie or Pye weed, Sweet Joe-Pye weed, Gravel Root, Trumpet weed, Queen of the Meadow, Purple boneset and Purple Joe-Pye weed
Joe Pye is happiest with full sun to part shade in moist to wet soils; even in clay soil which is a bonus for me. It prefers that the soil does not dry out which is why clay works well for Joe Pye. And deer do not bother this plant. Actually I have not seen any animal browsing Joe Pye. And it has no serious insect or disease problems. Joe Pye just isn’t a fussy or difficult plant to grow.
Joe Pye is said to readily hybridize with other species of Eutrochium making for some interesting plants you might not have expected though I think you would be hard pressed to know the difference. If you do not want Joe Pye to spread hither and yon, then cut the seed heads off, but I think that would be a sin since the birds enjoy them so.
If you are propagating by seed in the fall, then plant thickly as germination is usually low. They say propagation is best from softwood cuttings taken in late spring or by division in fall as they go dormant, or in the spring just as shoots first appear.
Where Are They Found
Many people think of Joe Pye as a weed found in the ditches along the side of the road. But is a stunning perennial in the back of a border or cottage garden, and particularly in meadows or native plant gardens. It just needs space to grow as the stand can reach heights of 10 feet and widths of 4-5 feet. Joe Pye also works great in rain gardens where I have a lovely stand of it, or even at the edge of ponds or streams.
E. purpureum has been cultivated and escaped in New Zealand.
Benefits to Wildlife
You will discover many butterflies visiting Joe Pye including Zebra Swallowtail, Variegated Fritillary, Tiger Swallowtail, Black Swallowtail, and skippers. You will also see hummingbirds, bees and wasps, as Joe Pye is said to be an important nectar source.
Birds also love the seedheads of Joe Pye and they are especially important for birds in fall and winter.
Folklore and Tales
Joe Pye has such a rich history for healing. This plant is said to get its name from Joe Pye, who was an Indian healer from New England during the time of the Pilgrims. He is said to have used E. purpureum to treat a variety of ailments including deadly typhus outbreaks.
The entire plant is still used as an alternative medicine. The roots are the strongest part of the plant for healing. If you crush the leaves, they have an apple scent. Once dried they are burned to repel flies.
Tea made from this plant is used as alternative medicine for fever, urinary tract problems, fever, rheumatism, gallstones, and fluid retention. The common name gravel root comes from the plant being used as a diuretic used to treat urinary infections and stones.
Hollow stems were used for straws, and roots were burned and the ash used as a salt substitute.
The tops of the plant were steeped and then inhaled to treat colds. Fresh leaves were made into a poultice to treat burns. The flower tops were even used as a good luck charm.
The word Eupatorium comes from the Greek King of Pontas, Mithridates VI Eupator (132-63BC). He used one species of this plant as an antidote for poison. Purpureum comes from the Latin word for “purple”.
Some Native American tribes still consider Joe Pye Weed to be an aphrodisiac.
In the Language of Flowers, Joe Pye is said to mean Delay. Maybe that is why I am drawn to this wonderful plant. As my plans are now delayed, I can still gaze at these beautiful flowers and be reminded of days to come.
May your life be like a wildflower growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day. ~Native American proverb
Check out other posts in the series, Wildflower Tale:
Next up on the blog: I hope to have ready a special post on the 1st about some veering from my path this summer. As July ends the garden continues through the heat of summer. I will be wrapping up July next Monday on my Gardens Eye Journal post.
I am linking in with Michelle@Rambling Woods for her Nature Notes meme. It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Wednesday.
As always, I’ll be joining Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday.
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