JoePye Weed Doesn’t Like it Dry or Too Shady

As I was saying…this has been a wetter year than the previous couple of years, and so, we’re eating great bunches of wild berries and getting to see a couple plants flowering that blossom in the wet conditions. All the rain sure makes for nice gardening – no extra watering needed!

Last year I had been watching this plant grow up through the summer. Taking pictures all along I was really curious what it would develop into, but there was to be no flowering. What drew my curiosity to it was the whorled leaves. I was unfamiliar with this plant and eagerly awaited its bloom time.

It turned out that the season was too dry for me to see anything. The small flower buds simply dried up and the plant stopped growing.

Non-flowering native plant.
No flower plant.

The small flower head dried up after these photos were taken on 12 July 2007. You can see the whorl of large leaves quite clearly where they attach to the main stem.

This year, being a wet one, is different. The terminal cluster of flowers is still developing. As I recall, it seems like a smaller version of a plant that I have been seeing by the roadsides along country roads of Central PA.

Pink flowers by the road.
Pink flowers roadside.

Tall pink flowers along a Pennsylvania country road.

Coming home from town this morning I pulled over near a patch of these very tall pinkish flowers. Right away I could see the large lance-shaped leaves in whorls. Indeed, the leaves can be seen from the road, as can the cluster of pink-to-white flowers. These plants towered over my head as they stood 8-10 feet tall, but a few were reaching only about 4 feet high.

JoePye Weed.

The flower parts are indistinguishable, which helps to identify this plant as being a Eupatorium species.

JoePye weed flowers.

A close-up photo shows a couple of white stamens, but that’s about all you can see.

To further identify this plant, you’ll need to look closely at the main stem. Are there purple spots or is the stem green with a white, waxy appearance? Is it a hollow stem? The different Joe-Pye weeds are distinguished like so:

  1. Sweet Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium purpureum, – green stem, purple at leaf joints vanilla odor of crushed leaves.
  2. Spotted Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium maculatum, – purple or purple-spotted stems, flat flower cluster.
  3. Hollow Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium fistulosum, – stem may have a tinge of purple, hollow stem, domed flower cluster.

Our plants are the Hollow Joe-Pye Weed, sometimes called Trumpetweed, due to the dome-shaped flower cluster, hollow stem, and no odor of vanilla. Areas that get lots of sun have the Joe-Pye weeds in full bloom and they’re very tall, too. Our smaller plants are in part shade all day long.

Interestingly enough, I found the same cohorts growing by the JoePye weed about 7 miles away, in full sun. I easily spotted Boneset, White Snakeroot, Spotted Touch-Me-Not and Blackberries – the same troupe that’s growing along our lane.

Delicious blackberries.

Don’t these blackberries look delicious? They’re quite large from all the rain and now they’re in my belly!

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