Eutrochium maculatum (Spotted Joe-pye Weed)

Plant Info
Also known as: Purple Boneset, Spotted Trumpetweed
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; moist soil, along shores
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:2 to 10 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Flat clusters 3 to 5 inches across made up of dozens to hundreds of pink to purplish flower heads. A head is made up of 8 to 20 petal-less disk flowers, each with 2 long stringy styles and 5 tiny lobes. The bracts are usually purplish and in 2 layers, the outer ones often hairy.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: whorl Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are whorled in groups of 3 to 6, usually 4 or 5. Leaves are up to 9 inches long and to 2 inches wide, coarsely toothed and pointed on both ends with very short stalks and variously hairy.

[photo of spotted stem] Stems are usually green or purplish with purple spots (hence the common name) or sometimes solid purple, and also variously hairy.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed with plume

[photo of fruit] The flower heads turn into a mass of brown seed, each with a tuft of light brown hair to carry them off in the wind.

[photo of seed] Seeds are slender, 3 to 4 millimeters long, 5-sided with distinct ridges on the angles.


A very similar species is Sweet Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium purpureum), which does not have spotted stems, but does typically have deep purple tinging at the leaf nodes and flower stalk nodes. Both are related to Boneset. Spotted Joe Pye weed is listed in many field guides as Eupatoriadelphus maculatus or Eupatorium maculatum, but the accepted name in Minnesota is Eutrochium maculatum. There are 3 varieties of E. maculatum in Minnesota. Var. bruneri is the most densely hairy and about as common as var. maculatum, which is more typically hairless on the lower stem. Var. foliosum, only known to be in Cook County, is much like var. maculatum except the leaves whorled at the base of a flower cluster are up to 8 inches long, spreading out wider than the flower cluster, where those of var. maculatum are only about 1 inch long.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Alison - St. Paul, MN
on: 2010-07-07 11:42:56

This plant can be found at Lilydale Regional Park in Saint Paul, MN.

Posted by: Kinzi
on: 2010-08-18 17:10:44

I found the plant in Wisconsin just last weekend (8/14/20010), but I thought that, regardless of location, it would be nice to add that its scent is potent and beautiful - almost reminiscent of a lilac.

Posted by: Sally - Pelican Rapids
on: 2011-07-15 16:16:15

A Joe Pye plant appeared this summer on the edge of my rain garden overlooking Fish Lake, north of Pelican Rapids.

Posted by: Pat - Pillager
on: 2011-09-05 20:46:50

There are huge fields of Joe Pye up here near Brainerd in full bloom now. They like wet ground.

Posted by: Trevor - Excelsior,Carver county
on: 2014-07-20 17:20:29

Removed a quarter acre of buckthorn a year ago and this year have found a dozen or so Joe Pye plants growing, quite delighted. Butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds love them.

Posted by: Robert - Burnsville
on: 2016-08-06 18:55:52

Letting part of our yard grow wild. Would like to know which is invasive and which is native so I can get rid of the invasive species.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2016-08-06 20:01:24

Robert, use the advanced plant search to figure out what you have in your yard. Don't fill in every field, just what you know for certain.

Posted by: Mike P Cleaver - SHOREVIEW
on: 2018-07-05 09:45:06

I have a plant in my garden. It really is a magnet for butterflies and bees. I plan to plant more in my wildflower garden this year.

Posted by: Valerie - Lake Alice Township ~ Hubbard County
on: 2018-08-23 08:47:23

This plant is Growing all along the swamps on our property and are in full bloom. This is the first year I have noticed it so abundant. The primary vein is a deep red/purple, color of chokecherries.

Posted by: Steven Pekarek - East of Royalton 10 miles
on: 2019-08-19 19:23:19

Growing along the creek bed and swampy areas on my property. Also started seeing some in my 10 acre native prairie plot. Beautiful flower!

Posted by: BRUCE HALEY - Montrose
on: 2019-08-26 11:25:50

1 plant blooming at a field edge

Posted by: Susan - Maple Grove
on: 2021-09-30 13:08:43

I have a massive perennial garden in my back yard, the Joe Pye Weed is taking over.

Posted by: Sherry Graddy - Fifty Lakes Crow Wing County
on: 2022-09-03 11:54:43

Next to the lake dock there is a very large patch of these sweet smelling flowers. The bees seem to love them, and since they are growing in very marshy soil I assume they like their 'feet wet'.

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