A virtual magnet for pollinators, this erect herbaceous perennial provides spectacular blooms and height to gardens and naturalized areas in summer and fall. The tallest of the Joe-pye weeds (it’s also known as tall Joe-pye weed), hollow Joe-pye weed grows 4 to 7 feet tall and spreads 2 to 4 feet in a clumping habit. The domed clusters of vanilla-scented, pinkish-purple flowers are up to 1 ½ feet wide on hollow stems with whorls of coarsely textured, medium-green leaves. The flowers are followed by attractive seed heads that last well into winter. The plant flourishes in sunny and moist or occasionally wet areas along streams, marshes, ditches, and wet forests. It does well in a wide range of soils--from clay or loam to sandy or rocky—and blooms profusely in full sun. In part sun, there is reduced growth and stems may need to be staked. With its tolerance for water and formidable height, it’s striking when massed along water margins or in low-lying areas such as drainage ditches. Mature plants are able to withstand short periods of drought.
Hollow Joe-pye weed, also known as trumpetweed, is found in 30 of the eastern/northern states, along with spotted joe-pye weed and coastal plain Joe-pye weed. It was once part of the Eupatorium (bonesets) genus, but it now resides with four other Joe-pye species in the Eutrochium genus; troche means “wheel-like,” referring to the appearance of the whorled leaves. Joe Pye was reputed to be a Native American who used these plants to create a cure for typhoid fever in Colonial New England. Hollow Joe-pye weed has an important history of medicinal uses, and its wildlife value is just as impressive. The flowers are a rich source of nectar for a wide range of pollinators, including monarchs, swallowtails, azures, skippers, bumble and honey bees, cuckoo and digger bees, bee flies, and the threatened rusty-patched bumble bee. It provides cover and seeds for birds, and the hollow stems are nature’s bee houses. For those seeking plants that don’t require cages or fences, Joe-pye’s your guy! The bitter foliage is a great deterrent to deer and other mammals unless no other food is available.
Hollow Joe-pye needs very little attention except for occasional staking or division. To propagate new plants or reduce large clumps, divide the plant in fall as it goes dormant or in the spring just as shoots first appear. If you don’t mind the presence and appearance of dead stalks, try leaving the old stems in place for two or three years. New shoots will continue to emerge in spring, and the old shoots will harden into "bamboo shoots," providing excellent housing for bees and other insects.
Native habitats include low-and-moist meadows, woods, and fields; sand prairies; shorelines; and soggy thickets. Place in backs of borders, rain and pollinator gardens, formal or informal gardens, naturalized areas, and near downspouts. Flowers are excellent for cut-flower and dried arrangements.
Grows 4-7’ tall and 2-4’ wide.
Prefers full sun and tolerates part shade.
Prefers rich, moist soils and adapts to loam, clay, sand, and shallowly rocky soils.
Tiny, pinkish-purple blooms appear July-September in heads with 5-7 florets. Individual disk flowers are about 1/3” across. Small, dry seeds with small hairs for wind dispersal appear August-November.
Large, lance-shaped leaves up to 10” long and 3” wide with serrated edges form in whorls of 4-7 around a singular smooth, hollow, and purple stem.
Host plant for 32 species of Lepidoptera larvae, including wavy-lined emerald moth, clymene moth, and red-humped caterpillar moth. It supports the caterpillars of pearl crescent butterflies, whose northern flights occur only from April through November. Seed heads provide fluff for winter nests and food for birds.
Medical, Edible, and Other Uses:
Native Americans made teas from various parts of the plant to treat ailments. Others have used the plant as a diuretic and to treat urinary tract issues, joint stiffness, gout, reproductive issues, and diabetes.
According to The Outdoor Apothecary, the plant parts are edible but should be used with caution. If consumed in high doses or for long periods of time, they may cause liver or intestinal problems. Do not use with children.
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