by Carl Strang
Two of our reasonably common plants in genus Eupatorium are called Joe-Pye weeds. There’s the purple Joe-Pye with its spotted stems, and the spotted Joe-Pye with its purple stems. Make sense of that. Anyway, today we’ll see what they look like in winter. The spotted Joe-Pye weed, Eupatorium maculatum, grows in open places, usually in or beside wetlands. The leaves are whorled, and this can be seen in the winter form.
At this point in winter the seeds are gone, but the framework of the fruiting structure remains. The inflorescence is described as flat-topped.
The rough-surfaced pedicels are attractive, I think, in winter.
Now we move to the nearby savanna and find some purple Joe-Pye weeds. They, like our first species, are very tall.
At Mayslake Forest Preserve, at least, the fruiting heads are smaller than those of spotted Joe-Pye weeds, and have a more compact, oval form in winter.
Habitat alone tells much of the tale in distinguishing these two plants, but taking a little time to compare them was an enjoyable winter project.