Several indigenous prairie plants grow in my garden, lots of coneflowers, grasses, butterfly weed, etc. Joe Pye Weed is one such tall native with purple cluster blooms. Butterflies are especially into them. I took a photo of a gorgeous swallowtail enjoying some nectar on my Joe Pye outside the studio recenty.
Joe Pye is such a friendly name. I've often wondered who Joe Pye actually was, as plant nomenclature fascinates me. A quick Wiki turned up a suspiciously lack-luster explanation, so I found a reputable prairie plant site and read a well researched article (backed by primary sources) that gives the most possible origin of the name. Looks like there was a Joseph Pye, aka Shauqueathquat, an 18th century Mohegan who lived in Massuchesetts. He was also a well-known herbalist. The plant mentioned as Joe Pye weed shows up in one of the earliest American botanical guides (and an even earlier mention of Joseph Pye, the individual, in a diary dated 1787).
I'd love to have been a Quaker woman of this age, and converse with Joe Pye some sunny late summer afternoon about this flower or that root and thank him for lending his name for the common term of Eupatorium purpureum!
Link to the Joe Pye article posted on the Prairie Works blog is below...
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