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Eutrochium fistulosum – Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye weed, native to the eastern United States and Canada, is one of the great herbaceous perennials of late summer and early fall. It is a big plant, capable of growing to seven or eight feet tall. I’ve seen it described as coarse, but I don’t find it so. The dark green foliage set off by purple stems has a certain nobility about it.

Butterflies and bees love Joe Pye weed and it is an essential addition to any serious butterfly garden.

Cold hardiness is outstanding, with the limiting factor of Joe Pye weed’s native range seeming to be dry, hot climates. Joe Pye weed prefers moist, rich soil, but does just fine in the casual soil conditions found in many gardens. It does especially well in damp soils, but constant moisture is by no means a requirement.


Eutrochium, Eupatorium, or other?

I grew up identifying Joe Pye weed as genus and species Eupatorium fistulosum. Eutrochium seems to be the most prevalent genus name in use, but you may also find Joe Pye weed identified with genus name Eupatoriadelphus. The genus was first named Eupatorium in 1836. Since, the Smithsonian Institute (King, Robinson) proposed Eupatoriadelphus in 1970. In 1987, the same researchers further refined the name to Eupatorium. Harold Robinson, by the way, has named or described over 2,800 new species of plants.

In 2000 the University of Tennessee (Schilling) concluded that Joe Pye weed does not belong to Eupatorium. In 2004, the Flora of North America placed Joe Pye weed in the genus Eutrochium. You may find all three genus names used at local nurseries, although I tend to see Eupatorium most often around here (Athens, Ga).

More information:
Winter hardiness zones: Zones 4-9

Native Distribution:

Genus/speciesEutrochium fistulosum, Eupatorium fistulosum
Common name(s)Joe Pye weed
Of noteDeer resistant, east to grow, very cold hardy, absolute must in butterfly gardens. Gets big.
Fall coloryes
Water requirementsaverage, moist soil conditions
Suggested use(s)cottage gardens, mixed borders/perennial beds, native collections, naturalized, understory
Hardiness zone(s)4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
Typeherbaceous perennial
Deer resistantyes
Deciduous or evergreendeciduous
Flower colorpink
Bloom periodlate summer
Exposurefull sun, afternoon shade


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