Saturday, September 12, 2009

Now Blooming on a Hill Near You

Jewel Weed, Michaelmas Daisy and Joe Pye Weed. Three late-season wildflowers, the last two of which are members of the Aster family.

Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium purpureum, Queen of the Meadow, gravel root, kidney root, mist-flower, snakeroot and purple boneset. A plant that successfully straddles the divide between wildflower and garden cultivar. Either location, it’s a butterfly favorite and a type of aster. Being that I have a personal stake in the matter, I tried to find out more about the name… Alfred C. Hottes‘ Book of Perennials states the name Joe Pye Weed "is derived from Joe Pye, an Indian herb doctor of Pilgrim days in Massachusetts. He is reputed to have cured typhus fever from a decoction of the plant." (New York, A.T. De La Mare Co., Inc., 1937, p. 150.)

Jewel Weed always reminds me of snapdragons though for no scientific reason at all. Unlike snapdragon, Jewel Weed is a species of impatience: impatiens capensis. It’s also known as “touch-me-not” and is often discussed in the same breath as poison ivy. It’s said to be a useful treatment and preventative – evidently freezing ground leaves in ice cubes and applying it is thought to work. (Anybody try this or other methods and have comments?) Me old ma, on the other hand, says that the usefulness of Jewel Weed to counter the dreaded PI is in its ability to actually crowd out the poison ivy plants on the ground and keeps them from flourishing. As both a sufferer from PI for more decades than imaginable and an outdoorswoman I suppose she should be taken seriously. Or at least as someone who sounds like they should be taken seriously (a family trait?)

Michaelmas Daisy came to bloom – back in the old country (some old country, anyway) -- around the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, September 29 (October 11 formerly). To quote my dear old friend W. Pedia “According to an old legend, blackberries should not be picked after this date. This is because, so folklore goes, Satan was banished from Heaven on this day, fell into a blackberry bush and cursed the brambles as he fell into them. In Yorkshire it is said that the devil had spat on them. According to Morrell (1977), this old legend is well-known in all parts of the United Kingdom, even as far north as the Orkney Islands.” (, accessed 9/11/09)

It strikes me that Wikipedia is like certain very authoritative friends and relations who always sound like they know what they are talking about no matter the accuracy…


GREEN KEY said...

Posted at 4:48 AM? Really? On the weekend?

Lovely photos. Now I see the connection between jewel weed and impatiens: they both have those fabulous popping seed pods!

Oh, and wikipedia posts ARE CREATED those authoritative types you know so well. Makes sense, no?

Joe K. Shoenfeld said...

Nah. The clock on blogger is whacked and I haven't figured out how to change it...