Gravel root: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on gravel root

Eupatorium purpureum is a clump forming plant of the Asteraceae family that grows to 1.5 – 2.4 meters (5 – 8 feet) tall and about 1.2 meters (4 ft) wide. Plants are found in full sun to part shade in moisture retentive to wet soils. Stems are upright, thick, round, and purple, with whorls of leaves at each node. As the plant begins to bloom the stems often bend downward under the weight of the flowers. The leaves grow to 30 cm (12 in) long and have a somewhat wrinkled texture. The purplish colored flowers are produced in large loose, convex shaped compound corymbiform arrays. Plants bloom mid to late summer and attract much activity from insects that feed on the nectar produced by the flowers.

common names & nomenclature
The Eupatorium family gets its name from Mithridates Eupator, a king of Pontus, who first used the plants. The name purpureum comes from the Latin for purple which is in reference to the color of the flower. The name Joe Pye Root come from a New England Native American, Joe Pye or Jopi.

Also known as:
kidney-root, sweetscented joe-pie weed, sweet joe pye weed, gravel root, trumpet weed, joe pye weed

Gravel Root, the courtly woodland herb
Gravel root: Where in the World
habitat and range for gravel root

Gravel root is native to northwest, eastern and central North America and now New Zealand due to escaping cultivation.

Gravel root: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting gravel root

Gravel root grows mostly is moist woodland or swampy areas in sun or part shade.

Grows in ordinary garden soil that is well-drained but moisture retentive.

Sow seed in spring, just barely cover the seed. Transplant into individual pots when large enough and plant into the garden in summer. This plant can also be divided in spring or fall; divisions can be planted directly into the garden beds.

Although gravel root isn’t generally considered an ornamental garden plant, it does boast showy clumps of bright, pink florets on tall stems that sport whorls of elongated leaves. In spite of its striking appearance, the fact that the plant attracts rather than deters many kinds of insects may also explain why gardening enthusiasts prefer to admire it in its natural habitat.

The leaves and flowering stems of gravel root are harvested in the summer before the buds open and are dried for later use. The roots are harvested in the autumn, cut into pieces and dried for later use.

Store dried gravel root pieces in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.