Spotted Joe-Pye Weed, Eupatorium maculatum

Spotted Joe-Pye Weed

Eupatorium maculatum

Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Late Summer/Early Fall
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Moist, Wet
Color: Pink
Fragrance: No
Height: 4 to 6 feet
Spacing: 18 inches


Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) is 3-5 feet tall and unbranched, except for flower head-bearing stalks near the apex of the plant. The central stem is stout, terete, and either purple-spotted or purple; it is often covered with short fine hairs. At intervals along the central stem, there are whorls of 4-5 leaves that are yellowish green or green. These leaves are up to 7 inches long and 2½ inches across; they are lanceolate to broadly elliptic and serrated along their margins. The upper leaf surfaces have conspicuous venation. The petioles of the leaves are short (less than ¼-inch in length). The central stem terminates in a rather flat-headed panicle of flower heads spanning 3-6 inches across. Small clusters of flower heads may occur below on separate stalks. Each narrow flower head is about 1/3-inch long, consisting of 8-20 pink to purplish pink disk florets and no ray florets. Each tiny disk floret has a narrowly tubular corolla with 5 spreading lobes along its upper rim; exerted from the corolla, there is a strongly exerted style that is divided into filiform parts. The narrow bracts (phyllaries) at the base of each flower head are pink or purplish pink, like the disk florets. The flowering stalks are purple-spotted to purple and they are often covered with short fine hairs.

The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer, lasting about 3-4 weeks. The flower heads are often fragrant. The florets are replaced by achenes with small tufts of bristly hair; they are dispersed by the wind. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. This plant often forms small clonal colonies.

Habitats include wet black soil prairies, wet sand prairies, sedge meadows, marshes, fens, and swampy thickets with small trees or shrubs. Spotted Joe-Pye Weed is partial to sandy wetlands, but it is also found in non-sandy wetlands. It is usually found in high quality natural areas, rather than degraded habitats with a history of disturbance.

The preference is full or partial sun, wet to moist conditions, and a mineral-rich soil containing silty or sandy loam. Spotted Joe-Pye Weed is more tolerant of water-logged conditions than most plants.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  Cut plants to the ground in late winter.
  Best propagated by stem cuttings.
  Flowers are very attractive to butterflies.
  Flowers give way to attractive seed heads which persist well into winter
Further Information

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