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Eupatorium perfoliatum

Eupatorium perfoliatum L.

 

Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderAsteralesFlowering plants with a central disk flower and surrounding petals, like daisies
FamilyAsteraceaeThe aster family, which also includes daisies and sunflowers; from the Greek ἀστήρ, “star,” for the star-shaped flowers
GenusEupatoriumFrom Mithridates Eupator, King of Pontus, who found an antidote to poison in one of the species
Speciesperfoliatum

About plant names...

Eupatorium is a genus of flowering plants, part of the enormous aster family. Perfoliatum means perforated, referring to the fact that the stem appears to grow through opposing pairs of adjoined leaves. The common name, boneset, derives from the plant’s use at one time in treating dengue fever, which was also known as breakbone.

Identification: Plants reach 3' (1 m) high. The stout, very hairy stem branches at the top to support the flowers. Leaves are up to 8" (20 cm) long, long and narrow, with pointed ends and fine serrations. Prominent veins produce a rough upper surface and a hairy, somewhat sticky lower surface. Opposite leaf pairs are joined around the stem (“connate”), so that the stem appears to be growing through them, a major identifying trait. Small, dull white (sometimes pinkish) flowers emerge in flat-topped or slightly dome-shaped clusters at the top of the stem, which branches to support multiple clusters. Individual flowers are about ⅛" (3 mm) in diameter. The flowers lack petals (“rays”) and look like tiny shaving brushes.

Medical: Boneset has a long and often dubious history of medicinal use. Its opposite pairs of joined leaves were once thought to signify the power to heal broken bones. It was used to treat dengue fever. It was also used as a stimulant, and a laxative. Leaves brewed into a tea have been used to reduce fever, its primary use. There is no evidence to support any of these uses, and some evidence of mild toxicity—plants “should not be ingested.

Some similar species:

 

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/24/2013 · Cranberry Meadow Pond Trail, Monadnock Conservancy, Peterborough, NH
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/20/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/20/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 8 × 12" (20 × 31 cm)

 
Eupatorium capillifolium
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Eupatorium perfoliatum

Eupatorium purpureum
Common Name

Dogfennel

Boneset

Sweet-scented Joe-Pye Weed
Plant   Plants reach 3' (1 m) high.  
Flowers   Small, dull white (sometimes pinkish) flowers are flat-topped or slightly dome-shaped clusters. Individual flowers are about ⅛" (3 mm) in diameter. The flowers lack petals (“rays”) and look like tiny shaving brushes.  
Leaves   Opposite leaf pairs are joined around the stem, so that the stem appears to be growing through them. Leaves are up to 8" (20 cm) long, long and narrow, with pointed ends and fine serrations. Prominent veins produce a rough upper surface and a hairy, somewhat sticky lower surface.  
Stem   The stout, very hairy stem branches at the top to support the flowers.  
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 3-10

USDA Zones: 3-8

USDA Zones: 4-9
Habitats   Damp fields, low meadows.  
Type Wild Wild Wild

 

 
Ageratina altissima ‘Chocolate’
Common Name

White Snakeroot
Plant Plants are 3-5' (91-152 cm) high, and up to 3' (91 cm) around, with single or multiple stems.
Flowers Flowerheads are somewhat dome-shaped clusters, each with 10-30 white brushlike flowers with no petals. Each flower is about ⅛" (4 mm) around.
Leaves Leaves are 2-5" (5-12 cm) long, lance-shaped, and tapering at both ends; lower leaves are broader, more heart-shaped. Each leaf has three prominent veins and serrated edges. Leaf stems (petioles) are ½-1½" (1.3-3.8 cm) long. Leaves are darker in the 'Chocolate' cultivar.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 4a-8b
Type Cultivar

 

Online References:

Eupatorium perfoliatum at the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine (describes boneset and similar species)

Eupatorium perfoliatum on Missouriplants.com

Eupatorium perfoliatum at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Eupatorium perfoliatum on Botanical.com

Eupatorium perfoliatum at Illinois Wildflowers

Eupatorium perfoliatum on eFloras

Eupatorium perfoliatum on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Eupatorium perfoliatum at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Eupatorium perfoliatum on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Eupatorium perfoliatum on eFloras

References:

Newcomb, Lawrence, Morrison, Gordon (Illus.), Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, Little, Brown and Company, 1977, p. 434

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/20/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 16 × 24" (41 × 62 cm)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/3/2012 · Bemis Rd Conservation Area, Pepperell, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/24/2013 · Cranberry Meadow Pond Trail, Monadnock Conservancy, Peterborough, NH
≈ 5 × 8" (12 × 19 cm)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

7/31/2012 · Bemis Rd Conservation Area, Pepperell, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 14 × 19" (36 × 48 cm)

Eupatorium perfoliatum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 23 Sep 2013.

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Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/24/2013 · Cranberry Meadow Pond Trail, Monadnock Conservancy, Peterborough, NH
≈ 5 × 8" (12 × 19 cm)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

7/19/2012 · Beaver Brook Association Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm) ID is uncertain

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/25/2013 · Casalis State Forest, Elm Hill Rd, Peterborough, NH
≈ 27 × 26" (68 × 64 cm)

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

7/19/2012 · Beaver Brook Association Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm) ID is uncertain

Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset, Common Boneset, Thoroughwort)

8/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Range: Zones 3-8:

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