Boneset, Common Boneset, American Boneset, Thoroughwort, Feverwort, Agueweed, Indian Sage
Synonyms of Eupatorium perfoliatum (18) (Updated on 3-7-21): Cunigunda perfoliata (L.) Lunell, Eupatorium chapmanii Small, Eupatorium connatum Michx., Eupatorium cuneatum Engelm., Eupatorium perfoliatum var. colpophilum Fernald & Griscom, Eupatorium perfoliatum var. cuneatum (Engelm.) A.Gray, Eupatorium perfoliatum f. laciniatum Stebbins, Eupatorium perfoliatum f. purpureum Britton, Eupatorium perfoliatum f. trifolium Fassett, Eupatorium perfoliatum f. truncatum (Muhl. ex Willd.) Fassett, Eupatorium perfoliatum var. truncatum (Muhl. ex Willd.) A.Gray, Eupatorium polyneuron (F.J.Herm.) Wunderlin, Eupatorium salviifolium Sims, Eupatorium serotinum var. polyneuron F.J.Herm., Eupatorium truncatum Muhl. ex Willd., Uncasia cuneata (Engelm.) Greene, Uncasia perfoliata (L.) Greene, Uncasia truncata (Muhl. ex Willd.) Greene
Eupatorium perfoliatum L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Eupatorium. The genus and species were named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the second edition of the first volume of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Plants of the World Online lists 61 accepted species in the Eupatorium genus (as of when I last updated this page on 3-7-21). It is a member of the plant family Asteraceae with 1,679 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made (and likely will).
The distribution map above of Eupatorium perfoliatum from Plants of the World Online show where the species is native in North America. The USDA Plants Database is the same. The species could be more widespread but not reported. If you see this species may have a wider range than the maps show.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH BETTER POSITIVE ID.
Eupatorium perfoliatum is a perennial wildflower that grows 2-4 feet tall. It prefers full to part sun areas in wet to moist soils with plenty of organic matter that retains moisture. It can be found throughout the entire eastern half of North America but not as common as other members of the genus. Common names include Boneset, Common Boneset, American Boneset, Thoroughwort, Feverwort, Agueweed, Indian Sage, and probably others.
There are a lot of neat wildflowers on the farm and Eupatorium perfoliatum is definitely one of them. I found a couple of small colonies growing in the southeast corner of the farm on the border between a swampy area and the pasture.
The VERY hairy stems are unbranched except for a few flowering stems that grow toward the top of the plants.
The leaves of Eupatorium perfoliatum are the most distinguishing feature of the species. The leaves grow in opposite pairs at right angles to the pair below (decussate), are lance-shaped (lanceolate) that taper to a point (acuminate), have round-toothed (crenate) to serrated (serrate) margins, are kind of wrinkled (rugose) because of their massive amount of veins, and have a rough texture because they are covered with fine hairs (pubescent). The most distinguishing feature is that the leaves are perfoliate, meaning they have no petioles (no leaf stems), and the base of the leaf kind of encircles the leaf nodes. It almost appears as if both leaves are one and the stem passes through it.
The lance-shaped leaves can grow to at least 2″ wide at the base and at least 8″ in length.
The above photo shows how the perfoliate leaves have no petioles. The two leaves look like they are one leaf and the stem grows through it. This photo also shows a pair of smaller leaves growing on top of the bigger pair which could be the beginning of a pair of flowering stems… You know, I really need some good close-ups of where the two leaves merge… Maybe at different stages.
I also need close-ups of how heavily veined the leaves are giving them a wrinkled appearance.
Now for the flowers… Which I also need close-ups of. I usually take a lot of photos of every part of the plant but sometimes they come out blurry. Yeah, sometimes 10 or more close-up flower photos turn out blurry and I don’t know it until I upload them on the computer at night.
The inflorescence sits on top of the flowering stem and consists of a flattish cluster of disc flowers. There are NO ray flowers (florets, petals, or whatever you want to call them). The disc flowers, 9-23 per head, have white to pinkish corollas, are five-lobed, and have five stamens. They have sort of a shaggy (villous) appearance.
The above photo shows how the flowering stems emerge from the top of the leaf node.
The Eupatorium perfoliatum is one plant that will have you examining it once you find it.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street) and other areas. The city limits is also across the street and the north and south side of the farm. I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WORLD FLORA ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN
MSU-MIDWEST WEEDS AND WILDFLOWERS
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
LADY BIRD JOHNSON WILDFLOWER CENTER
PFAF (PLANTS FOR A FUTURE)
USDA FACT SHEET
Note: The numbers may not be the same on all websites and databases. It depends on when they make updates (if at all) and how up-to-date their sources are. Plants of the World Online consistently make updates so their numbers are quite accurate… Wikipedia articles are updated occasionally, but not necessarily the numbers. World Flora Online took over The Plant List but they uploaded out-of-date data from version 1.1 in 2013 and have NOT updated. A lot of names and numbers have changed since then…