Native Plant of the Week: Sweet Joe Pye Weed ~ Eutrochium purpureum

Sweet Joe Pye Weed ~ Eutrochium purpureum (Eupatorium purpureum)

The Sweet Joe Pye Weed in our landscape is in full bloom right now. A favorite nectar plant for many butterflies and bees. The black swallowtail butterflies seem to prefer it over any other plant.

The flower heads can be very large, the one in this photo is around 12 inches in width. The tiny individual flowers are thin petaled and wispy. Grouped together in the branched cluster, the flower heads make quite a statement.
Sweet Joe Pye is a light pink flowering Joe Pye, the Spotted Joe Pye (Eutrochium maculatum) is the showier of the two species and the one highly cultivated by the horticultural trade for its darker flower color and purple stems. Spotted Joe Pye likes moist, rich soils. I prefer the Sweet Joe Pye, especially for my landscape, where it prefers drier soils and can tolerate quite a bit of shade.

This cluster self seeded in my dry south facing woodland and is a great addition flowering in late summer when everything else has finished.

The toothed leaves are arranged in whorls around the stem and are a favorite perch for tree frogs. Sweet Joe Pye is a very tall plant reaching heights of 6 feet or more. It is an excellent native to use in perennial borders.

Native bees love all the Joe Pyes, on cooler nights the bumble bees hang beneath the flower clusters and wait for the sun to warm them in the morning.

Sweet Joe Pye Weed is an important source of nectar for the Monarch Butterfly too in our area, as it prepares for its migration southwards.

If you are like the height and form of Joe Pye Weed but have drier soils, I would try this species.

Sweet Joe Pye Weed is native to eastern North America, see map below for range.

Kartesz, J.T., The Biota of North America Program (BONAP).
North American Plant Atlas. Chapel Hill, N.C.