Tag Archives: Joe-pye weed

WHEN A WEED IS NOT A WEED and Why Joe-Pye is So Darn Lovable!

A bodacious beauty possessing the toughest of traits, Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium) is the stalwart star of the eastern native plants garden. Large, airy dome-shaped flowerheads blooming in a range of shades from pink to lavender to purple provide food, by way of nectar, foliage, and seed heads to myriad species of bees, butterflies, and songbirds. Beginning in mid-July and continuing through mid-October, pollinators on the wing can find sustenance in a garden planted with Little Joes and Big Joes.

Joe Pye, the person, is thought to have been a North Carolina Native American medicine man who used these wildflowers to cure many ailments, including typhoid fever. The plants became know as Joe Pye’s weed.

A name changer from weed to wildflower would be a game changer for numerous species of native plants. Why do so many native wildflowers have the suffix weed? Because when the colonists arrived from Europe, they wanted their crops, as well as European cultivated flowers, to grow in their new gardens. Anything native that interfered with their plans was deemed a “weed.” Examples of beautiful and invaluable North American native pollinator plants with the name given weed are milkweed (Asclepias), sneezeweed (Helenium), ironweed (Veronia), and jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

Three favorite and fabulous species for the New England landscape are Eutrochium purpureum, E. maculatum, and E. dubium. Joe-pye grows beautifully in average to moist soil, in full sun to light shade. Plant Joe-pye in the back of the border. E.purpurem grows five to seven feet tall, while Little Joe grows three to five feet. With their beautiful blossoms, robust habit, winter hardiness, and disease resistance, these long blooming members of the sunflower family are treasured for their ability to attract an array of butterflies, bees, and songbirds to the garden during the mid- to late-summer season.

Just look at this sampling of the different species of Lepidoptera finding noursihment from the blossoms of Joe-Pye!


Tiger Swallowtail

Painted Lady
Black Swallowtail

 

Monarch

Joe-Pye does especially well in a coastal native plants garden.

If you enjoyed reading this post, I hope you will consider donating to the completion of my documentary film Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. Every contribution is tremendously appreciated. For more information on how you can help, please visit the film’s website at http://www.monarchbutterflyfilm.com

Wildflowers Blooming Today!

Summersweet (Clethra alnifoloa( ©Kim Smith 2015Summersweet

There is an exuberant abundance of wildflowers blooming in marsh and meadow all along the shores of Cape Ann and here are just a few snapshots. When out and about on a wooded walk, you may notice a wonderful sweet spicy fragrance. What you are smelling is more than likely our native summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), which also goes by the common name sweet pepperbush; perhaps a more apt description of its potent and zippy honey-spice scent.

Sweet pepperbush ©Kim Smith 2015Plant summersweet for pollinators–bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies love the nectar-rich florets.

Jewelweed ©Kim Smith 2015Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), also loved by hummingbirds

Cattail flowers ©Kim Smith 2015 copyCatinninetails

Northern Crescent ©Kim Smith 2015Male Northern Crescent Butterfly Basking

Pearl Cresent nectaring at Marsh Milkweed ©Kim Smith 2015Female Pearl Crescent Nectaring at Milkweed

A Splash of Color for Winter Weary Eyes!

Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2014Cosmos bipinatus

In preparation for my upcoming season of programs, which are centered around designing gardens to support pollinators, one of my jobs is to refresh and update the photos that are an integral part of the presentation. This past month I have been immersed in colorful images and tomorrow I am giving my new monarch butterfly presentation at (the other) Cape. Here are some of the outtakes from my pollinator habitat programs for our winter weary eyes.

For more information about programs and upcoming events, please visit my website at kimsmithdesigns.com

Luna Moth Phlox DavidPhlox and Luna Moth

Sunflower and Joe-pye  ©Kim Smith 2014Sunflower and Joe-pye Weed

Goleta Monarch Butterfly Santa Barbara California Cape Honeysuckle ©Kim Smith 2015.Monarch Butterfly and Cape Honeysuckle, Goleta California

Cosmos -1 Donovan Field ©Kim Smith 2013

Monarchs Eyed for Possible Inclusion Under US Endangered Species Protection

Cape Ann Milkweed and Monarch Habitat, Eastern Point

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering adding Monarchs as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. A one-year review is underway to monitor the butterfly’s status. Since the 1990s the population has plummeted from about one billion to approximately 35 million. That may seem like a substantial number, but the Monarchs need stronger numbers to be resilient to other threats such as harsh weather.

The reason for the decline is primarily because of loss of milkweed habitat in the agricultural heartland of the United States. With the development of Monsanto’s Roundup and Roundup Ready (glyphosate resistant) seed, farmers are now able to spray glyphosate directly on their corn, soybean, and sorghum crops. Roundup also destroys milkweed. Secondly, with the push for ethanol, farmers have begun to plant corn on conservation land.

If the Fish and Wildlife Service determines that the Monarchs are threatened, they will set aside land for milkweed.

You can read more about the the Monarch Butterfly Endangered Species Act here:

FAQs on the Monarch Butterfly Endangered Species Act Petition

Monarch Butterfly Wildflower Joe-pye ©Kim Smith 2012Monarch Butterfly Drinking Nectar from Native Wildflower Joe-pye Weed

You can learn more about the Monarch migration and the loss of Monarch habitat from Professor Tom Emmel here ~ 

Top Native Bee Friendly Plants

Obedient Plant and Bee Physostegia virginiana ©Kim Smith 2013Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)

Below is a list of some favorite nectar- and pollen-rich bee-friendly North American wildflowers for attracting native bees and honey bees to your gardens. They are listed in order of bloom time, from spring through late summer, to provide your foragers with nourishment all growing season long.

Mexican Sunflower © Kim Smith 2013Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

Wild strawberry (Fragaria viginiana)

Wild Blue Lupine (Lupinus perennis)

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Sunflower (Helianthus annus)

Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)

Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)

New York Ironweed (Veronia noveboracensis)

New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)

Sailor Stan sunflower and bee ©Kim Smith 2011Sailor Stan Sunflower (Helianthius annus)

Eupatorium and Bee ©Kim Smith 2012Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)

Ironweed Bee ©KIm Smith 2011New York Ironweed (Veronia noveboracensis)

Is Joe-pye a Weed?

Sneezeweed, Butterfly Weed, Ironweed, Milkweed, Joe-pye Weed–these are names European colonists assigned to the wildflowers they found growing in North America. Is it any wonder these native beauties have long been overlooked for gardens. The name Butterfly Weed gives us a clue that what to the early settlers was a “weed,” is a pollinator’s dream.

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

                                                     ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

For the past week, our blooming patch of six-feet-tall Joe-pye Weed has been covered in a bevy of butterflies including more Painted Ladies than ever I even imagined visiting our garden, dozens of newly emerged Monarch butterflies, Eastern Tiger Swallowtails, Question Marks, and thousands of bees.

The Eupatorium growing in the Harbor Walk Gardens is a lower growing species called ‘Baby Joe,’ and it too is as equally attractive to the pollinators.

Joey-pye Weed

Baby Joe

In full bloom this month at the Harbor Walk is the fabulous North American native ‘Baby Joe’ (Eupatorium). While maintaining the Harbor Walk gardens, Jay Ramsey of Farm Creek Landscaping reported seeing no less than half a dozen species of butterflies nectaring simultaneously at the ‘Baby Joe’ on a warm sunny morning this past week. Given your average warm sunny summer day, butterflies are typically on the wing throughout the day; I find the very best time of day to see the very most is between 10:00 am until 12 noon.