Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium spp.) is a Native American perennial found in all parts of the US with the exception of the deep south and the far north. It is also a popular cottage garden plant in Europe. It is erect in habit and forms clumps throughout moist Midwest prairies.
Leaves are hollow, so a strong wind can easily knock the plant over. Leaves are arranged in whorls of three or four all along the stem. They are dark green, lance-shaped and coarsely serrated and may be up to 12 inches long, depending on the variety and they have purple leaf margins.
Flowers appear in late summer and persist through the fall. They are purplish, vanilla-scented and arranged in clusters of 5 to 7. Flowers give way to seed heads that persist throughout the winter adding winter interest to the garden.
The root is thick and woody, purplish-brown on the outside, cream-colored on the inside.
Other Names Queen of the Meadow, gravel root, kidney root, mist-flower, snakeroot, purple boneset, eupatorium, Sweet Joe-Pye Weed, Hempweed, Joe-Pie, Jopi Weed, Trumpet Weed,
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History and Folklore
It is said that the plant was named after a Native American healer who used it to treat typhus.
The name Eupatorium comes from the name of King Mithridates Eupator who lived in Parthis from 120 to 63 BCE who is said to have discovered the medical effectiveness of the Eupatorium family, which includes the European native boneset.
Many Native American tribes used Joe Pye Weed for healing and magic. It was used as a diuretic, to treat colds and fevers, as a love medicine, as a poultice for wounds, as a wash to strengthen children and for joint pain and the flowers were used as good luck charms.
Joe Pye Weed can be grown from seed, plant six weeks before the last frost and cover lightly so that sunlight can reach the seeds. Keep moist.
Or it can be grown from cuttings.
Joe Pye Weed generally prefers full sun and moist soil. Some varieties such as E. purpureum can tolerate less moisture and part shade conditions.
Harvesting & Storage
Gather leaves anytime. Dig the root after a frost. Joe Pye Weed dries well.
Joe Pye Weed can be used in spells for love or respect. A leaf can be tucked into your cheek to ensure that words spoken to the opposite sex will be well-received (see warnings).
Gamblers can carry the plant on them to help bring them good luck. Carrying the plant with you will also encourage others to look upon you with respect.
Joe Pye Weed is suitable for butterfly gardens. It attracts Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Great Spangled Fritillaries, Pearl Crescents, Monarchs, and Tawny-edged Skippers
The entire plant can be used, with the root having the strongest effect. It can be made into a diuretic tea to stimulate the bladder and kidneys and to encourage sweating to break a fever. It is also useful for influenza.
Simmer 1 dried root in 1 pint of water for 30 minutes, strain and cool, take 1/2 cup 4-5 times per day
Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tsp leaves and flowers. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink 1-3 times per day.
WARNING: This herb can cause liver and kidney damage and severe intestinal problems if overdosed or used for long periods of time.