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Joe pye weed is loved by butterflies and other pollinators. Good choice for conservation and restoration projects.

Joe pye weed is loved by butterflies and other pollinators. Good choice for conservation and restoration projects. USDA, NRCS. 2012. The PLANTS Database (, 8 October 2012). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Eupatorium fistulosum

Joe pye weed

Native to North America


FIRST IMPRESSIONS:  Eupatorium fistulosum is a striking tall boy that injects architectural interest to the late summer garden.  This robust rhizomatous wildflower has sturdy stems with whorls of bold attractive foliage.  In mid-summer, plants are topped with a frothy crown of rounded mauve-pink flower clusters.  This species thrives in sunny moist sites where it is romanced by flocks of fluttering butterflies.

HABITAT & HARDINESS:  Eupatorium fistulosum occurs in eastern North America from Quebec to Florida and west to Illinois, Missouri and east Texas.

Plants are indigenous to edges of moist open woods, creek banks, seeps, springs, moist meadows and low areas along roadsides and railroads.

Plants are hardy from USDA Zones 4-9.

PLANT DESCRIPTION:  Eupatorium fistulosum is a bold upright perennial. Multiple stems emerge from the ground in spring looking somewhat like bamboo shoots at first. 

By mid-summer plants have soared toward the sky and are almost shrubby.  The sturdy stems are hollow and are clothed in whorls of large attractive leaves.

The leaves are arranged in groups of 4-7.   They have toothed edges, an elliptical shape and are up to 9” long with stout purplish petioles. 

From mid-summer until autumn, plants bear terminal dome shaped flower corymbs that range from 3-10” across.  The flower clusters consist of many small feathery lavender-pink disk florets. 

The blossoms mature into soft buff colored seed clusters.

Plants are 5-10’ tall with a spread of 2-3’ or wider. 

CULTURAL & MAINTENANCE NEEDSEupatorium fistulosum prefers full to part sun and wet to moist soils.  Plants tolerate clay, moist loam, seepy gravel or temporary standing water.

Avoid cutting stems back in winter to “tidy” the garden.  If stalks remain, they will add winter interest, provide seed to birds and perhaps enhance cold hardiness.  Accumulation of winter rain in the hollow severed stalks can cause the plant to decline.

This species is pest resistant and foliage is unpalatable to deer and other herbivores.

LANDSCAPE USES:  Eupatorium fistulosum is a dramatic Accent for a Wildlife Garden or moist Meadow. Plants are also used as Butterfly Nectar Plants, Cut Flowers or as part of a Grouping or Mass Planting.   This wildflower has Showy Blooms and provides Erosion Control.  It can be used in Cottage Gardens, Deer Resistant Plantings, Rain Gardens, Water-wise Landscapes, Low Maintenance Plantings, Perennial Borders and on Roadsides.

COMPANION & UNDERSTUDY PLANTS:  Try pairing Eupatorium fistulosum with Aster oblongifolius, Coreopsis tripteris, Lobelia siphilitica, Monarda fistulosa, Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida, Solidago rugosa or Sorghastrum nutans.

Eupatorium purpureum and Eupatorium maculatum are worthy substitutes as they are tall plants with similar flowers, whorled leaves and comparable cultural requirements.

TRIVIA:  Unlike other members of the Aster Family, Eupatorium spp. flowers are composed only of disc florets with no rays.

Flowers attract skippers, moths and bees.  The nectar is especially favored by butterflies and often two or more species can be observed foraging on a flower cluster.  Swamp sparrows feed on the seed.

Taxonomists recently changed the name of this species to Eutrochium fistulosum.  In general, the former Eupatorium spp. with whorled leave are now called Eutrochium spp. and the bonesets which have opposite leaves are still Eupatorium spp.


5-10 ft


2-3 ft


3-6 ft

USDA Hardiness Zone:


Bloom Color:


Eupatorium fistulosum Characteristics

Attracts Wildlife

  • Butterflies
  • Pollinators


  • East-Coast Native
  • Drought Tolerant
  • Rain Garden
  • Dried Flower
  • Cut Flower
  • Clay Soil
  • Naturalizing
  • Long Blooming


  • Full Sun to Partial Shade

Flowering Months

  • August
  • July

Foliage Color

  • Green

Growth Rate

  • Fast

Juglans nigra Tolerance (Black Walnut)

  • Yes

Season of Interest (Foliage)

  • Summer
  • Spring

Soil Moisture Preference

  • Wet to Moist

Interesting Notes:

For more information on this plant, visit the USDA PLANTS Database:

Plants that work well with Eupatorium fistulosum ''

Swamp milkweed Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet')
Aromatic aster Aromatic aster (Aster oblongifolius)
Tall coreopsis Tall coreopsis (Coreopsis tripteris)
Great Blue Lobelia Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
Wild bergamot Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Black-eyed Susan Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida v. fulgida)
David garden phlox David garden phlox (Phlox paniculata 'David')
Robert Poore garden phlox Robert Poore garden phlox (Phlox paniculata 'Robert Poore')
Summer phlox Summer phlox (Phlox paniculata)
New York ironweed New York ironweed (Vernonia noveboracensis)
Culver root Culver root (Veronicastrum virginicum)
small woodland sunflower small woodland sunflower (Helianthus microcephalus)
Buttonbush Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Disco Belle Red Hardy Hibiscus Disco Belle Red Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Disco Belle Red')
Disco Belle Pink Hardy Hibiscus Disco Belle Pink Hardy Hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Disco Belle Pink')

Substitutions for Eupatorium fistulosum

Sweet Joe pye weed Sweet Joe pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum)
Spotted Joe pye weed Spotted Joe pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
Boneset Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)