"Joe Pye"

Who was Joe Pye?

Supposedly, a legendary Indian herbalist and healer who befriended the New England pioneers by using this plant to cure fevers. Colonists later used it to treat typhus. I think Joe Pye was the second-to-the-last of the Mohegans. He practiced his homeopathic arts near Salem, (Salem) Massachusetts.

Forest Pottawatomie, among other tribes, regarded the flowers as good-luck charms, especially effective for winning at gambling. I wouldn’t bet on it.

Joe-Pye weed grows in damp meadows, thickets, shorelines, and rich, low ground. It ranges from Alberta east to Newfoundland, south to North Carolina, west to Kansas, and north to North Dakota. Also found in parts of the West.

The leaves are 2  1/2 – 8″ (6.5-20 cm) long, in whorls of 3-5, thick, lanceolate, and coarsely toothed. This species has purple stems, so it must be Spotted Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum). There are three species in North America. Another common species is Eupatorium purpureum.

Each whorl of leaf is slightly rotated from the whorl above or below. This arrangement allows maximum light to reach each leaf; as they require open sunlight.

Joe-Pye grows two to six feet tall (60- 200 cm) and flowers from July to September.

The head of an individual flower is 3/8″ (8mm) wide, and each flower cluster is 4 – 6″ (10-15 cm) wide. These are bisexual, insect-pollinated flowers, and as you can see, come into bloom a few at a time in clusters at the top of the stem.

They may self-pollinate as well, eventually producing furry heads of feathery achenes (small, dry, hard, one-seeded fruits) which are dispersed by the wind in the fall.

So, Joe, we don’t know as much as you did about the healing qualities of this plant. But hey, you are still famous after after all these years; because of what you were able to do.

I’m doing what I can to carry on your legacy. “Father Nature” would have loved to take a walk with you, but he was born 400 years too late.

Oh Joe, one more thing… I don’t think “weed” belongs at the end of your name… I’m just sayin’.

Photo Location:  Ada Township (Ada) ,  Kent County (Kent) ,  Michigan


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