Asteraceae / Composite
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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
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.
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