Highlands Biological Station buildings remain closed to visitors with the exception of limited visitor hours for the Nature Center.  HBS Botanical Garden trails remain open, and in accordance with University policy masks and physical distancing are required on the HBS campus.  Highlands Biological Station currently plans to offer academic and public programming in summer 2021, observing University mandated Covid-19 safety protocols.  For the safety of the HBS summer community, before being permitted to work or study at HBS prospective summer students, teaching faculty, and researchers must provide documentation of (1) having received a Covid-19 vaccine or (2) a negative Covid-19 test taken within 3 days of planned arrival.  Please see the HBS website for full summer 2021 Covid-19 safety policies and procedures, and bear in mind that University policy and HBS program plans are subject to change in light of developments with the pandemic this spring. 

Eutrochium fistulosum

Hollowstem Joe-Pye weed


Sunflower Family


A signal to all that the dog days of summer are upon us is when the first flowering Joe-Pye weed is spotted. It’s hard to miss, as this plant can reach 7 feet in height and are topped by a broad, dome-shaped panicle of pinkish flowers. The flowers are good nectar and pollen producers, and are usually swarming with all sorts of insects — butterflies, beetles, wasps, flies. This hardy perennial is a lover of moist soils in open, sunny spots. 

Look closely at the leaf whorls and you will notice that each one is offset slightly relative to the ones above and below — a growth strategy that minimizes leaf shading and maximizes photosynthesis.  Unlike the solid stems of most Joe-Pye Weeds, this species is readily identified by its hollow stem. Joe-Pye Weeds putatively take their name from a 19th century traveling medicine man, who promoted use of the roots of the plant to induce sweating in typhus fever. Historically, the leaves have been used by Indigenous Americans to brew a diuretic tea. 

Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the southeastern United States. University of North Carolina Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical Garden.