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~ Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium purpureum ~

Joe Pye Weed (aka gravel root, kidney root, purple boneset) is the archetype butterfly flower: large, purple-pink mopheads that form a shaggy landing surface and supply abundant nectar, long lasting from July to September. The nectar production is costly for the plant in terms of sugar and water; for this reason it prefers to grow in the sun (the energy for sugar metabolism) and in very moist soil (to keep up the nectar flowing).

A well grown specimen can reach a stately height of 2 m, and increases every year with spreading rhizomes - yet it is rarely invasive.

This North American native perennial is reputed to be a butterfly magnet - but butterflies are fickle creatures and you may end up with heavy bee activity, instead. No matter who comes to visit, the flower heads will be alive with pollinators, including the occasional hummingbird.

The foliage consists of deep green whorled lance-shaped leaves around a deep purple stem.

Seeds and plants are widely available in the seed and nursery trade.

Some herbalists believe that Eupatorium roots and leaves have anti-inflammatory activity, and native peoples have used it as an aphrodisiac. Chemists have been succesful in isolating compounds that have in vitro toxicity; the presence of toxic substances is not an indication of therapeutic value.

Click to enlarge

A big display

Busy bees

Joe Pye Weed Links - Extreme close up of flowers, looks abstract!
Central Park - See it grow beside a pond.

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