Since I spotted a vivid orange Butterfly Weed growing by the roadside a few weeks back, I have become captivated by the many beautiful flowers and weeds seemingly growing wild along our highways and byways. Not only are they beautiful, but most have medicinal uses and interesting backgrounds.
Last week I noticed another beauty. As best I can tell, it’s a Joe Pye Weed, a lovely soft-purple plant now in full bloom.
Joe Pye Weed is certainly a strange name for what is not really a weed, but a wildflower native to much of North America.
Legend has it that an Indian healer named Joe Pye (Jopi in the native language) used this particular plant to treat a variety of ailments including fevers. American colonists were said to have used the Joe Pye Weed to treat outbreaks of typhus while other Indian tribes used the plant for the treatment of kidney stones and urinary tract ailments.
Joe Pye Weed – Eutrochium – is a popular, sun-loving plant that can grow as tall as 6-feet. The dusty, rose-colored flowers are butterfly and bee magnets. As I noticed the plant growing hither and yon, I could see butterflies on the flowers from as far away as 50 yards.
The lovely wildflower has become domesticated as a common garden perennial and blooms from mid-summer until fall. It is a hardy plant and not fussy about the soil type. It can be found at most garden centers.
Joe Pye is not a brilliant purple, but rather a soft, muted lavender shade – truly beautiful in its understated color. It would make a nice addition to a butterfly bush in most every back yard. It happens to be a great perennial with a really bad name.