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Meet Joe Pye Weed

So there is an interesting story about this seemingly common plant. Joe Pye Weed is blooming right now along river banks and in wet areas. This lovely purple flowered plant has a very unique name. The rumor/legend is that a Native American man cured a whole colonial settlement of 'typhus' using this plant. Historians have tried to verify or document this story all to no avail. No one seems to be able to find any written evidence that a man named Joe Pye cured anyone and if he did, with what plant. But the story has stuck and the plant bears his name.

Joe Pye Weed is a native Midwestern and Eastern Atlantic plant that grows anywhere that it is wet enough. such as riverbanks, lakesides and wet meadows. It prefers some shade during the day. It is also now sold commercially so if you have a raingarden and are looking to add some vertical interest, this is a great option. The flowers are a purple-y pink and they can easily be mistaken for Milkweed from a distance. Swamp milkweed also grows in wet places and has very similar looking flowers. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the leaves. Joe Pye Weed's leaves are sharply pointed and have rough edges. Milkweed had smoother edges and milkweed also bleeds a white sap when picked.

Joe Pye Weed can grow to over six feet tall and is a favorite of butterflies and bees. Hummingbirds often stop by these flowers and goldfinches enjoy the seeds in the fall. The plant is a perennial which means you can plant it one time and it will come back each year. It blooms in late July and August so now is the time to go looking for it.

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