Aug 16th, 2013

Joe Pye in the Sky

Text and photos by Caitlin Puffenberger, PR & Marketing Intern, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

It’s hard to miss the stands of Joe Pye weed while passing through West Island Garden. These towering pink-purple plants cover the banks on both sides of the pond, some of them more than 6 feet high.

Joe Pye weed and cardinal flower

Joe Pye weed; Eupatorium dubium, ‘Little Joe,’ planted with bright red cardinal flower Lobelia cardinalis. See the bright spot of blue? That’s Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica.)

But if you really want to be impressed, stop for a minute. Look closely at a bloom. You’ll see the green leaves are complemented by a dark pink stem, and the heads of the flowers are many up of tiny, pointed buds, just right for bees.



And if you hold still, you might even spot a butterfly.  So pause under a tree, take a seat on a bench — just stop a moment. It may be a weed, but Joe Pye has quite a lot of beauty in store if you’re willing to look for it.

 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), left, and Viceroy butterfly, right

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus), left, and a Viceroy (Limenitis archippus) , right.

Caitlin Puffenberger is a former PR & Marketing Intern.

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  • Beautiful photos! But that’s not a monarch in your one photo. It’s a Viceroy and a common identification mistake.

  • Oh Kylee, we went back and forth on that one quite a few times. It looks like a Viceroy because of the black pattern on the rear part of the wings right? Let me send this over to our Butterflies LIVE! staff and see if they can research it some more. Thanks again for pointing out your concern that it might be incorrect so that we can confirm the ID. I’ll post a comment here again when I hear back from them.

  • Kylee,
    After talking to our Butterflies LIVE! staff, we agree, it’s a Viceroy. Thanks so much for tipping us off, I’ll correct it in the caption.