Eupatorium perfoliatum L.

boneset thoroughwort

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Native Americans used boneset thoroughwort for a large variety of medicinal purposes, and European settlers considered it something of a cure-all in the 18th and 19th centuries when they learned of it. An infusion of Eupatorium perfoliatum will relieve cold symptoms as well as having a laxative effect.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), marshes, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf type
leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
  • opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
  • whorled: there are three or more leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Flower type in flower heads
the flower head has disk flowers only, and lacks the strap-shaped flowers
Ray flower color
NA
Tuft or plume on fruit
at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
Spines on plant
the plant has no spines
Leaf blade length
50–150 mm
Disk flower number
  • 11-20
  • 21-50
  • 6-10
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bases of bract appendages
    NA
    Bract cycle number
    • there are three or more cycles of bracts
    • there are two main cycles of bracts
    • there is one main cycle of bracts
    Bract outer side hairs
    the bracts are hairy on their outer surfaces
    Bract tip color
    the tips are a different color from the center of the bract
    Bract tip shape
    • the tips of the bracts acute (have a sharp point)
    • the tips of the bracts are acuminate (tapered to a narrow point)
    Bract width
    0.6–1
    Disk flower color
    white
    Disk flower lobe number
    5
    Disk flower number
    • 11-20
    • 21-50
    • 6-10
    Disk flower reproductive parts
    the disk flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower head platform
    the base has no bristles or papery scales
    Flower head platform surface
    NA
    Flower head position
    each of the flower heads is separate on its own peduncle (stalk), not clustered in groups
    Flower head shape
    the sides of the flower head are roughly parallel, like a cylinder
    Flower type in flower heads
    the flower head has disk flowers only, and lacks the strap-shaped flowers
    Height of flower head base
    4–6 mm
    Inflorescence branching (Solidago)
    NA
    Inflorescence shape
    the inflorescence is flat-topped in profile
    Number of bracts at flower head base
    7–10
    Ovary attachment
    the ovary is attached at or near the base
    Ovary lines or ribs
    there are four to six lines or ribs visible on the ovary
    Ray flower color
    NA
    Ray flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Ray flowers
    0
    Ray length
    0 mm
    Scale tip
    NA
    Smaller bracts at base of bracts
    there is no smaller, outer cycle of bracts
  • Fruits or seeds
    Number of pappus parts
    11 or more
    Ovary length in developed fruit
    1.5–2 mm
    Seed hair tuft color
    the pappus hairs are white or off-white
    Seed hair tuft details
    the pappus hairs are hooked or barbed
    Seed hair tuft length
    3–3.5 mm
    Seed hair tuft tips
    the pappus hairs are slender
    Seed hairs uniform
    all the pappus hairs are approximately the same length
    Seed tuft scale number
    0
    Seed tuft type
    the pappus is made of very fine hairs or bristles
    Top of disk flower ovary
    NA
    Tuft or plume on fruit
    at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
  • Glands or sap
    Leaf blade glands
    the leaf blades have glandular (translucent) dots or scales
    Ovary glands
    there are glands on the ovary surface
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant has one or more free-standing stems
    Plant lifespan
    the plant is perennial, it shows evidence of previous year's leaves, stems or stem bases
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a caudex (the root mass is firm and hardened at the top)
  • Leaves
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    • opposite: there are two leaves per node along the stem
    • whorled: there are three or more leaves per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has no petiole and at the base it clasps the stem, or goes all the way around the stem so the stem appears to pierce the leaf
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has hairs with glands at their tips
    Leaf blade length
    50–150 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    there is no noticeable color variation on the upper surface of the leaf
    Leaf blade tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acuminate (tapers to a long, thin point)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    Leaf blade width
    15–40 mm
    Leaf disposition
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have no leaf stalks, but attach directly to the stem
    Leaf stalk length
    0 mm
    Leaf tip extension
    NA
    Leaf type
    leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaflet number
    0
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
  • Place
    Habitat
    wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of wetlands
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • marshes
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • swamps
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of an odor
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem cross-section
    the flowering stem is circular, or with lots of small angles
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Stem bloom
    there is no powdery or waxy film on the stem
    Stem internode hair direction
    the hairs point mostly upwards to outwards
    Stem internode hairs
    the stem has hairs between the nodes
    Stem wings
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4)
Massachusetts
widespread (S-rank: S5)

var. colpophilum

Maine
historical (S-rank: SH), potentially extirpated (code: PE)
Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. perfoliatum

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

Yes

Synonyms

  • Eupatorium perfoliatum var. colpophilum Fern. & Grisc.

Family

Asteraceae

Genus

Eupatorium

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

5.  Eupatorium perfoliatum L. N

boneset thoroughwort. Eupatorium perfoliatum L. var. colpophilum Fern. & Grisc. • CT, MA, 
ME, NH, RI, VT; throughout. Shorelines, marshes, swamps, wetland margins, ditches. Plants 
from tidal shores show narrower leaves and shorter, sparser pubescence on the stems. 
These forms have been called var. colpophilum, but they intergrade with typical forms as 
tidal influence decreases.