Index- plants in this Family
Asteraceae / Composite
Hollow-stemed Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosum)
Hollow-stemed Joe-Pye Weed is also known as Joe-Pye Weed; Trumpetweed, which is the official vernacular and Queen of the Meadow along with numerous other names. Several similar species share the moniker 'Joe-Pye Weed'.

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach a height of 3 Meters (10 feet ) . The stem is usually purple and smooth and becoming hollow.
Leaves: The leaves are whorled. Leaves can reach 25cm in length (10inches). Leaves can be as wide as 10 cm (4inches). There are usually four to seven leaves to a node and each leaf is lanceolate to elliptic, toothed, the teeth short, rounded and somewhat irregular. The surface of the leaf is often rough.
Flowers: The flower parts are not discernable with the naked eye . They are pink. Blooms first appear in mid summer and continue into early fall. The flower cluster is large and rounded.
Habitat: Woods, fields and marshes.
Range: Texas to Florida north to Illinois and Maine. Becoming uncommon in the north.

      Color Photo     More Info      Classification

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The genus Eupatorium is after Mithridates VI Eupator (c. 120-63 BC) the most powerful king of Pontus, who may have used a plant in the genus as a remedy or perhaps an antidote as he was known to have ingested small amounts of many types of poison in order to attain immunity. The species name 'fistulosum' refers to the hollow stem. The Joe Pye of the common name is that of a character in 19th-century New England who may have been a Native American healer (real name Zhopai?) or a white promoter of Indian themes. At any rate he is credited with using Joe-Pye Weed to cure settlers of typhus by sweating them.

Lore: It should be noted that there are as many as five species of Eupatorium that are refereed to commonly as Joe-Pye Weed. All the Eupatoriums with whorled leaves. Many references to the various species use the name more or less interchangeably. Many works dealing with plant medicine and other uses may give one species name but list characters of another. Pre-Columbian Native Americans and later herbal practitioners may not have made the clear distinctions between species modern botanist have.

The Cherokee used the stem of this or other Joe-Pye Weeds to suck water from shallow springs which was convenient since the are often found in wet areas. It was also used as a kind of blowgun to apply medicine. (Hamel/Chiltoskey)

Huron H. Smith an Ethnobotanist who worked with several North American tribes during the nineteen-twenties and thirties was told that the Meskwaki used the root as a sort of "love medicine" nibbling it when speaking to an intended and that the Potawatomi used the flowers as a good luck charm (talisman).(Erichsen- Brown)

Medical Uses: Some herbalist have considered this species similar in action to the other Eupatoriums (See: Bonesets or Thoroughworts in general, Eupatorium ) there are many accounts of the roots of these plants being especially useful as a diuretic in treating unary problems and to promote sweating. Often used as a kind of tonic the Cherokee gave it to women during pregnancy and in an odd and very specific treatment, one who got sick from smelling a corpse would bath in an infusion. (Hamel/Chiltoskey) (Erichsen-Brown) (Foster & Duke) (Dobelis)

While it is likely that there are some active components in these plants and they were once considered a useful medicine available in pharmacies there seems to be no science to support any of these medical uses.

Similar Species: The other Joe-Pye Weeds briefly described below all have leaves that are more sharply toothed. All have the characteristic whorled leaves that set them appart from other Eupatoriums

  1. Coastalplain Joepyeweed (Eupatorium dubium) is only about 1m (3') tall and has wider leaves generally in whorls of three or four with three main veins. The stem is usually speckled with purple and may be sticky and puberulent near the top. It is found in wet, sandy soil often near the cost from North Carolina to Maine.
  2. Spotted Joepyeweed (Eupatorium maculatum) is seldom more than 2m (6.5'), stem tall spotted with or evenly purple and a smaller less rounded flower cluster. The involucre bracts are sometimes triple veined and the leaves may be and are usually in whorls of four or five. It is a more northern and western species with several varieties, a couple of which are found as far south as Tennessee and North Carolina in the mountains. Moist places.
  3. Sweetscented Joepyeweed (Eupatorium purpureum) has leaves with a single central vein (three in involucre bracts) usually in whorls of three or four. The stem is smooth below the flowers and mostly green, purple only at the nodes. There is a sweat, vanilla like smell to crushed leaves. It is found in dryer places than the other species throughout the eastern U. S.
  4. Steele's Eupatorium (Eupatorium steelei) is very much like Sweetscented Joepyeweed (Eupatorium purpureum) except the stem is not smooth but with spreading trichomes. It is known only in the mountainous region that straddles the borders of Kentucky - Virginia and Tennessee - North Carolina.

See the links below this image for other images. (2)
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Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) close view of leaves and stem  © Daniel Reed
Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum) close view of flowers  © Daniel Reed

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More Info:  
The Search below may provide more information about this species. Some of URLs may have been used as a source for this page not otherwise cited. Most of the information not cited comes from multiple sources that can be found in the Books page. The USDA plant links are provided by: USDA, NRCS 1999. The PLANTS database ( National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA. You can check species names at ITIS Advanced Search to see if they meet the current ITIS taxonomic criteria.

By: Newcomb, Lawrence and Illustrated by Morrison, Gordon. 1977, Little, Brown and Company, ISBN:0-316-60442-9

One of the best general guides to wildflowers of the North Eastern and North Central United States. Newcomb's key is an excellent, simple method for identifying plants. Newcomb has drawings for almost every plant mentioned that are excellent aids to identifying the species. Though only the more common plants are covered this is often the first book I pick up when trying to identify a wildflower.

Wildflo wers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians
By: Dennis Horn and Tavia Cathcart and Thomas E. Hemmerly and David Duhl. , ISBN:1551054280

This is perhaps the best of many field guides covering this region. Featuring 446 excellent color photographs (located with the text) and mentioning as similar to those illustrated are another 800 or so species for a total coverage of over 1,200 species. The start of each family section includes line drawings of some of the species showing important features. The text includes the usual description, bloom season, range, habitat and additionally includes information such as medical uses and lore and how the species was named. This is the official field guide of the Tennessee Native Plant Society.

Angiosperms / Flowering Plants
Dicots / Two Seed Leaves



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