OTHER COMMON NAMES—Gravelroot, Indian gravelroot, joe-pye-weed, purple boneset, tall boneset, kidneyroot, king-of-the-meadow, marsh-milkweed, motherwort, niggerweed, quillwort, slunkweed, trumpetweed.
HABITAT AND RANGE—This common native perennial herb occurs in low grounds and dry woods and meadows from Canada to Florida and Texas.
DESCRIPTION OF PLANT—The stout, erect, green or purple stem of this plant grows from 3 to 10 feet in height and is usually smooth, simple or branched at the- top. The thin, veiny leaves are 4 to 12 inches long, 1 to 3 inches wide, ovate or ovate lance shaped, sharp pointed, toothed and placed around the stem in whorls of three to six. While the upper surface of the leaves is smooth, there is usually a slight hairiness along the veins on the lower surface, otherwise smooth. Toward the latter part of the summer and in early fall queen-of-the-meadow is in flower, producing 5 to 15 flowered pink or purplish heads, all aggregated in large compound clusters which present a rather showy appearance. This plant belongs to the aster family (Asteraceae).
Another species which is collected with this and for similar purposes, and by some regarded as only a variety, is the spotted boneset or spotted joe-pye-weed (Eupatorium maculatum L.) This is very similar to E. purpureum, but it does not grow so tall, is rough-hairy and has the stem spotted with purple. The thicker leaves are coarsely toothed and in whorls of three to five and the flower clusters are flattened at the top rather than elongated as in E. purpureum.
It is found in moist soil from New York to Kentucky, westward to Kansas, New Mexico, Minnesota, and as far up as British Columbia.
DESCRIPTION OF ROOT—Queen-of meadow root, as it occurs in commerce, is blackish and woody, furnished with numerous long dark-brown fibers, which are furrowed or wrinkled lengthwise and whitish within. It has a bitter, aromatic and astringent taste.
COLLECTION, PRICES AND USES—The root is collected in autumn and is used for its astringent and diuretic properties. It was official in the United States Pharmacopeia from 1820 to 1840. The price ranges from 2 1/2 to 4 cents a pound.
Ginseng and Other Medicinal Plants, 1936, was written by A. R. Harding.