Joe Pye Weed

May 14th, 2020

(Eutrochium spp.)

Joe Pye Weed is an herbaceous, perennial native to much of the United States. It is a wildflower but also an herb that was used as a remedy to reduce fevers and other maladies. The plant goes by the common name Joe Pye Weed, in honor of a Native American herbalist.

physical description

This plant, a member of the Aster family, can attain a height of 5 – 7 feet and a diameter of 2 – 4 feet. In native settings it can become rather aggressive forcing out some other plants. The compound flowers are composed of 5 to 8 florets and bracts in dusty rose to mauve, giving the appearance of large clusters. The identifying characteristic for all of the Joe Pye Weeds is that the leaves are whorled, rather than found at opposite or alternate locations along the stem.


Habitat; This species grows well in full sun but prefers partial shade in order to do well. It prefers rich moist soil and can handle either acidic soil (pH = 5.5 to 6.5) neutral (pH = 7) or slightly alkaline soils (pH = 7.5 to 9). The various species of Joe Pye Weed live in Hardiness Zones 2 – 9 so it will do very well in the Chattanooga area. It usually blooms from July through September. This plant needs moist soils in order to flourish.

These species have no serious insect or disease problems; however, its leaves may scorch if soils are allowed to dry out. Powdery mildew and rust may also occur.



These species should be used in the garden where, first, there is abundant moisture in the soils, and second where the plants can easily spread out to provide a remarkable, visual impression. 

The Joe Pye Weeds can be a dramatic accent in the back of a garden with their great height.

Since these species attract small birds and butterflies, they provide humans with visual stimulation. In addition, they are a source of nectar and therefore, provide honey bees with the raw material to produce honey.

interesting information

In some plants, the leaves and flowers can give off a vanilla-like scent.

There are many species of the Joe Pye Weeds. The purple or reddish-purple flowered one has a species epithet of purpureus — obviously. The white one is referred to as “alba.” And so on.

The Joe Pye Weeds are best propagated by stem cuttings. They generally grow better in open woodland areas. The seeds from the drying flowerheads can be harvested and sown in the late autumn or early spring.

Many websites and books refer to Joe Pye as being a Native American medicine man from Salem, Massachusetts, who earned his fame from curing colonial settlers of typhus by using healing herb.

About the Author

Charlie Belin is a retired professor and biological oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia system for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

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Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

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Our nursery is open Saturdays, 9 am - 2 pm Eastern. Please claim a timed visit pass to help us stagger the traffic throughout the day.

We’ve missed having you on the property. Here’s what you need to know about our reopening plan. Please read the whole thing; we know it’s long and we thank you for your patience and compliance.

  • All visitors are required to have a Visit Pass during Phase One of our reopening plan, both Members and Non-Members. You can sign up for your pass below these instructions or on Eventbrite.
  • Sign up for a two-hour window from the options below.
  • If you are a Member, your visit is included in your membership and is free-of-charge. Thank you for being a member. You do still need a permit.
  • If you are a Non-Member, become one today - info here! If that’s not right for you, we understand and still have an option for access to our 317 beautiful acres.
  • We will mirror what the National Park Service does in terms of closures and openings. Please check their website for the latest here before you leave home. Things often change quickly.


Given the current situation, we need our members and the public to do their part. Please come prepared and take anything you bring in with you back out with you.

  • New Rules: There are a few new rules in place to make our property as safe for everyone as it can be right now.
  • Printed Pass: Print your confirmation page at the end of this process and put in the windshield of your car for your entire visit.
  • Hours: For now, the property will be open from sunrise to sunset - daylight hours, like normal.


All outdoor areas that have no touchable surfaces:

  • Our trails - hooray!
  • The loop and meadow roads - hooray!
  • The pasture and the meadows - hooray!
  • You can find a map of our trails and roads here.


Everything else is closed and has been taped off:

  • Buildings, the Boardwalk, the Native Animal Exhibits, the Greenhouse, the Pavilion, the Gazebo, the Barn are closed.
  • Creek access is closed due to damage from storms and floods.
  • Any touchable surface like play equipment, buildings, benches, door handles, bathrooms, portable bathrooms are closed.
  • NOTEBathrooms are closed and there is no access to drinking water. If you plan to visit, especially with children, please be prepared.


Because of limited staff and no volunteers during closure, you will notice that the property needs some work. We are doing our best to get through the maintenance backlog safely, quickly and efficiently. If you'd like to volunteer, let Corey Hagan, Director of Education, know by email: [email protected]


  • If you are sick or feeling not great, stay home.
  • Obey all local, state, and federal orders.
  • Keep a safe distance from others, at least six feet apart.
  • Stay on familiar trails - this is not a good time to get hurt or lost.
  • Respect closures and closed areas.
  • A muddy trail is a closed trail, no matter what.
  • Check updates before you come - things change every day.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
  • Use face coverings when anyone is in your line of site on the property.


Thank you for your ongoing support! We are thrilled to have you back on the property. In order to make being open work, we need to be able to do it profitably and with limited staff and volunteers. Please consider a donation today to support our recovery work. 

Frequently asked questions


We do plan to run camps. Here are the current details. We think we can run camps in late June or certainly by July. We'll post an update on our camps webpage once we have the official OK to open camp registration. Keep in mind that we are regulated by both the City of Chattanooga and the Hamilton County Health Department. We will follow all local and federal guidelines for providing a safe camp experience.


Great news! You can order online for delivery or pick-up. Browse our plant list and then fill out this interest form and we'll get back to you to schedule payment and delivery or pick-up.


Thanks for caring for our local wildlfie. We do not operate a rehab facility and cannot accept animals. Here are a couple of resources for you to try.

For Birds, turtles, chipmunks, call  (423) 593-3932

Raptors and Owls (423) 847-5757
Opossums (423) 255-6460
Rabbits and squirrels (540) 392-5428
Raccoons, Foxes and Skunks (423) 475-2691

To report a sick deer in TN, please visit this TWRA reporting site.

For all other wildlife issues, please contact your state wildlife resources agency. In TN, that's TWRA


We hope soon! We will be evaluating our field trip plans as the summer continues. We'll post an update on our field trip experience page once we have an official OK to open.

Posted by Mark McKnight

Anise-Scented Goldenrod

May 7th, 2020

(Solidago odora)

AKA: sweet goldenrod

This is a low maintenance, native, herbaceous, perennial, wildflower native to the eastern half of the United States from Texas to New Hampshire. Anise-scented goldenrod is wonderfully fragrant with anise and licorice smells, especially when the leaves or stems are bruised.

physical description

This member of the Aster family attains an average height of 3 feet to 4 feet and a diameter of approximately 12 inches to 18 inches. It blossoms out with pyramidal, bright yellow flowers that are medium to large clusters during the summer. The flowers can be used fresh as cut flowers in the home or can be dried (upside down, please!) and used to liven up a home in the winter.


The anise-scented goldenrod is naturally found in Hardiness Zones 4 trough 9, thus, living well in the Chattanooga area. It is primarily clump-forming and does not spread aggressively as do some of the other goldenrod species and hybrids.  This wildflower naturalizes well, is drought resistant and tolerates clay soil.  It also tolerated soil alkalinity from acidic to alkaline, and is somewhat tolerant of deer browsing. The species will tolerate wide moisture levels, but prefers moderate to low soil moisture.


All photos via iNaturalist, CC-by-NC. Click photo for details and license.


Because of its bright yellow flowers, its tall stature and its remarkable fragrance, the anise-scented goldenrod is favored in garden planting as either an accent for certain landscape locations, as the backdrop to a planted bed, or as an unusual fragrance to a landscaped area.

interesting information

The anise-scented goldenrod is the state flower of Delaware, where it is referred to as the sweet goldenrod.

For years the anise-scented goldenrod was used to produce a medicinal tea, the blue mountain tea, for treatment of a variety of problems including wounds, ulcers, urinary disorders, flatulence, and as a stimulant. 

This species is attractive to bees and butterflies. Also, songbirds eat the seeds, thus it will attract birds, especially in the autumn when other foods are scarce.

The genus name, Solidago, comes from the Latin words solidus meaning “whole” and ago meaning “to make” in reference to the medicinal healing properties of some species plants. The specific epithet, odora, means fragrant.

About the Author

Charlie Belin is a retired professor and biological oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia system for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

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