Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium)
The Joe-Pye Weed is this month’s plant of the month. Eupatorium purpureum is a perennial flowering shrub that reaches 3’-10’ in height and 3’-6’ wide. The genus Eupatorium comprises about 40 species of mostly perennial, chiefly tropical herbs and shrubs. The genus name honors Mithradates VI Eupator, king of Pontus (an ancient country in northern Anatolia in Asia Minor), who died in 63 b.c. The king is remembered among botanists and toxicologists for having been “one of the first to study intensively the art of poisoning and the preparation of antidotes.” He is said to have immunized himself against poison by taking increasingly large, nonlethal doses. One plant he experimented with is supposed to have been a member of the genus. (Motherearthliving.com)
About five species of North American eupatoriums are known as Joe-Pye weeds. The naming of the plant is up for debate. The most accepted theory holds that it refers to a Colonial-era Native American named Joe Pye, who is said to have used one of the species to cure typhus. Another is that Joe Pye was a nineteenth-century white “Indian theme promoter” who used the root of one of the species to induce sweating in cases of typhus. (Motherearthliving.com)
Joe-Pye Weed comes in a variety of colors, including pinks, purples, whites, and reds flowering July-September. Joe-Pye Weed attracts birds, butterflies, and bees. Joe-Pye Weed is a rather low maintenance plant, it does not need constant pruning, or watering and is very adaptive to sun or shade. Attractive seed heads persist through the winter, but can be attractive. Seeding does get heavy at times, and could cause the plant to flop over from being top heavy.