Perennial of the Month-- September 2006
(u-pah-TORE-ee-um pur-PUR-ee-um) (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)
Common name: Joe Pye Weed
Family: Asteraceae, Aster/Composite
Height x width, habit: 4-6' x 3'; erect clump forming
Growth rate: moderate
Foliage: wine red stems with coarsely serrated (cut) leaves to 8" long, in whorls of 3-4
Flowers: bright mauve pink, or rose pink, or lavender purple flowers mid to late August north, July south; tiny flowers in terminal domed inflorescences to a foot or more across
Hardiness: USDA zones 4-8
Soil: moist, fertile, tolerates wet
Light: full sun
Pests and problems: leaves may scorch in drought, dry soils; otherwise none serious; lower light leads to more spindly growth
Landscape habit, uses: butterflies, wetlands, moist meadows, border background, center of island beds, native gardens, winter seedheads; combines well with Rudbeckia, Heliopsis, Solidago, Vernonia.
Other interest: depending on taxonomic source, this and related cultivars may be listed under maculatum species, or purpureum subsp. maculatum; originally it is, and often still is, listed by the genus synonym Eupatorium, or Eupatoriadelphus; this revised genus separates them from the bonesets (Eupatorium) which have opposite leaves with Eutrochium having whorled leaves.
shorter than the subspecies, denser, and with thicker inflorescences; species has green stems; according to folklore named for the native American Joe Pye (Jopi), supposedly from a New England tribe, who travelled widely during the time of the American Revolution. He sold herbal remedies, one of which was from this plant for typhoid fever. Genus is named for Eupator, King of Pontus, who also supposedly knew of the healing properties of this plant. Native to eastern North America.
Other culture: cut back half way in early summer for shorter habit; cut back to ground in late winter; grows best in the north where nights are cool
Propagation: seed, cuttings, division in spring
Sources: many complete local and mail order perennial nurseries