Tall Boneset

Common Name: Tall Boneset.

Scientific Name: Eupatorium Altissimum.

What to look for?  A somewhat weedy-looking cluster of thin, creamy white, flowery spikes sitting atop tall, upright stem. Tall Boneset has interesting, but unusual looking flowers. The Tall Boneset is topped off by branching flowery clusters. Each cluster is comprised of many smaller, star-shaped white clusters of disk flowers; there are no ray flowers (petals). In the center is a brown column of long, string-like white-tipped stamens. The green leaves are long and narrowly oval. Stems are erect, unbranched except near the flowers, minutely hairy, and green or tinged reddish brown. Fruits are resinous-glandular achenes.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The beautiful colonies of Tall Boneset were sighted in the restored prairie at Stonegate West Park.

How big are they? The Tall Boneset grows to approximately four (4) feet tall. The ovate leaves are approximately five (5) inches long and one (1) inch across. The numerous flowers are tiny and only one-eight of an inch across.

Where do they grow and thrive? The Tall Boneset is native to Illinois and occurs across most of the state, except some southern counties. The primary habitats include mesic prairies, savannas, thickets, openings in upland forests, limestone glades, pastures, and abandoned fields. This plant favors disturbed areas, where it may form large colonies.

When do they bloom? Late bloomer! The blooming period of the Tall Boneset occurs from late summer to early fall and lasts just over one (1) month.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The nectar of the Tall Boneset flowers attracts a variety of insects, including bees, wasps, flies, small butterflies, skippers, beetles, and plant bugs. The caterpillars of several moths feed on various parts of the Tall Boneset.

Interesting Facts About the Tall Boneset:

  • The genus Eupatorium is named after the Persian general Mithridates Eupator who is said to have used plants as a medicine.

  • Specific epithet - Altissimum -means especially tall or towering in reference to the height of the plant.

  • The genus, Eupatorium, contains as many as 60 species.

  • Tall Boneset often competes directly with Canada Goldenrod, providing some white color to a fall landscape that is often dominated by forbs with yellow flowers.

  • Tall Boneset is an often-overlooked plant and often despised as a weed.

  • Tall Boneset is in the same genus as Joe Pye weed.

For more information on the Tall Boneset and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Minnesota Wildflowers, Missouri Botanical Gardens and the University of Texas Wildflower Center.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!