On our morning walks, I love seeing rich pink flowers of ‘Queen of the Meadow,’ Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (E. maculatum). It is just coming into bloom along the paths we regularly take each morning. In the midst of Queen Anne’s Lace and Grass-leaved Goldenrod, the rich pink of the blooms and the deep purple of the stem clearly mark the native Joe-Pye as royalty. Among its subjects who present themselves to polish off some royal nectar are butterflies, including the swallowtail butterflies, Monarch butterflies, the skippers, plus all sort of bees, wasps and perhaps a hummingbird or two.
Spotted Joe-Pye-weed, a member of the aster family, has ‘the widest geographical distribution and greatest morphological variability’ of all Joe-Pye weeds, according to the New England Wild Flower Society. A different variety grew with abandon in my mother’s Virginia garden but none of Joe-Pye grows in mine as it has a tendency to invade. I prefer to pay homage in meadows along my walk.
The ‘Queen of the Meadow’ will continue to delight into fall. The leaves will fade from green to a nice lemony yellow and the stems remain a spotted purple shade. The blooms will fade to a fluffy brown seed head attracting goldfinches and other birds to dine.
Actually, no one really knows for absolute certainty how the plant was named Joe-Pye but if you’re curious, click here to read one of the most interesting studies of who Joe Pye might be.