Little Joe Pye Weed and Baby Joe Pye Weed

Written by Elizabeth Bradshaw
Published: November 15, 2022
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Little Joe Pye weed and Baby Joe Pye weed are cultivars of Joe Pye weed, the collective name given to five species of North American wildflowers. Eutrochium dubium is a deciduous perennial with tall flower clusters of white, pink, or blush. Blooming from mid-summer to fall, these beautiful plants add color to the garden late into the growing season. A popular pollinator, Joe Pye weed, is especially attractive to bees and butterflies.

Little Joe Pye weed, and the similarly named Baby Joe Pye weed. are dwarf cultivars of Joe Pye weed, so, what make each unique?

Little Joe Pye WeedBaby Joe Pye Weed
ClassificationEupatorium dubium ‘Little Joe’Eupatorium dubium ‘Baby Joe’
Description A hardy perennial with dark green herbaceous foliage and domed flowers ranging from pinkish white to deep purple, which attract pollinators, especially butterflies.  A shorter plant with dark green foliage and purple flowers. An herbaceous perennial attractive to butterflies and other garden pollinators. 
OriginA cultivar of native Joe Pye weed, Little Joe Pye weed is native to North America.  As a dwarf version of Joe Pye weed, baby Joe Pye weed is also native to North America.
FeaturesThis colorful plant grows to about four feet tall, making it an ideal choice for borders, beds, and small-space gardening.
 
Baby Joe Pye weed reaches around two to three feet in height. A compact choice for beautiful and long-lasting purple flowers.
 

Little Joe Pye Weed and Baby Joe Pye Weed: Origin

Both of these plants are are dwarf versions of Joe Pye weed, which is native to North America. Therefore, they have similar growth patterns and thrive in similar habitats.

Little Joe Pye Weed and Baby Joe Pye Weed: Description

Little Joe Pye weed is a dwarf cultivar of the native Joe Pye weed. Sharing most of the same characteristics as its namesake, the cultivar reaches a maximum height of 4 feet, making it an ideal choice for smaller gardens. Tall, dark red stems hold large clusters of dome-shaped blooms which flower from spring to fall. Leaves are lanced, long and dark green, reaching a point at the tip. Flowers range from white and pale pink to deep purple or magenta.   

A monarch butterfly perched on flower cluster of Joe Pye weed. The flower cluster is light pink,aypo a light green to pinkish stem with lance -shaped lime green to yellow leaves against an out of focus green background.

Little Joe Pye weed attracts pollinators to the garden, specifically butterflies, which feed off its nectar.      

©David Byron Keener/Shutterstock.com

Baby Joe Pye weed, also known as Coastal Plain, is native to swampy wetlands and thickets throughout North America. The dwarf cultivar is almost identical in appearance to Little Joe except for longer, darker stalks which hold the flowers upright away from the main plant in a showy fashion. Both plants are excellent for attracting pollinators to the garden, specifically butterflies, which feed off the nectar.      

Close up, full-frame of Baby Joe Pye weed in flower with large clusters of pink flowers atop straight, erect, dark-red-to-brown stems, and bright green leaves.

Almost identical in appearance to Little Joe Pye Weed, Baby Joe Pye weed has longer longer, darker stalks.

©Stephen Bonk/Shutterstock.com

Toxicity

Although there are toxic plants in the Eupatorium genus, such as snakeroot, which may kill livestock that graze on it, but Joe Pye weed is neither poisonous, nor invasive, although it will self-seed readily spreading quickly thought the garden.

Who Was Joe Pye?

Legend has it that the original Joe Pye was an Indian herbalist named Jopi, who used the plant extensively to treat a variety of ailments from typhus to kidney stones. New England folklore tells the tale of how Jopi administered the plant to successfully divert a typhoid epidemic. 

Alternatively, Joe Pye may have been a Mohican chief called Schauquethqueat who lived in Massachusetts in the 1700s and took the Christian name, Joseph Pye, though there are no records of a Joe Pye residing in New England at that time.

The name likely derives from a mispronunciation of the word eupatory, the genus that contains Joe Pye weed. 

As you can see, there are few differences between Little Joe Pye weed and Baby Joe Pye weed, except the size the plant typically reaches and slightly different stalks, holding flowers upright and away from the plant. Both are coarse, hardy perennial garden plants with beautiful large clusters of flowers and whorled rough green leaves. Both plants provide a burst of color from spring until late autumn, and their bushy green foliage makes them an ideal addition to borders and flower beds.    

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Andrey_Nikitin/Shutterstock.com


Sources

  1. plantaddicts, Available here: https://plantaddicts.com/baby-joe-dwarf-joe-pye-weed
  2. growitbuildit, Available here: https://growitbuildit.com/joe-pye-weed-eutrochium-eupatorium/
  3. davesgarden (1970) Big Joe, Little Joe, Baby Joe - Dave's Garden (davesgarden.com
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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer based in the west of Ireland. When not tending to my messy, overgrown vegetable garden, you'll find me trawling the beaches for flotsam and jetsam, campervanning in some remote location or writing about sustainability and the environment in our tiny home by the sea. Favourite plant: sea holly, favourite fruit: gooseberry, favourite flower: the wild purple orchid that blooms in bog and brush all over the county.

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