Tall and regal stand the Joe-pye. weeds in the August woods. The bellflower is in bloom; so is skullcap. It is hot and sticky and quiet in the woods, quiet except for the incessant buzzing of insects. Birds sing little now except for the endless songs of the vireos and the clattering of woodpeckers in the old trees. Butterflies and bees in the woods come now to the great plumes of the Joe-pye weeds whose scent is part of the midsurnmr atmosphere.
Eupatorium purpureum L.
July - September Woods.
Joe-pye weed is one of the Composites, one of the Eupatoriums which claim the white snakeroot, the boneset, the thoroughwort, and the blue mist flower as members of the family. Of them all, a sturdy tribe, Joe-pye weed is the largest and most imposing in growth and blossoming. Although it is so tall, it somehow escapes weediness by having uniform and geometrically placed whorls of leaves in groups of four or five around the slightly downy stems. The stem is erect and does not branch. The summit of the stalk has a large and much branched head of small fuzzy flowers with long stamens and pistils thrust high above the short rays. The flower heads are fragrant and are a source of late summer nectar to foraging bees.
In the northern swamps and bogs, a shorter and stouter, more brightly colored Joe-pye weed blooms in August. The stems and flowers are lavender-magenta, often very bright with that purple-rose color which is so common among many species of flowers in the north.