Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
American boneset
American boneset
American boneset
American boneset
American boneset
American boneset


Commonly known as boneset, this perennial plant is notable for its unique stem and leaf arrangement, with pairs of leaves that seem to be pierced by the stem, giving the impression of being "perfoliate" or joined around the stem. The leaves themselves are elongated, pointed, and have a rough, slightly hairy texture. The edges of the leaves are toothed, with deep indentations along the margins. The plant blooms from late summer to early fall, presenting clusters of small, fluffy white flowers that grow at the top of the stems. Each tiny flower comprises several feathery, hair-like petals that surround a center of equally minute, tubular flowers. When the plant is in bloom, these clusters of flowers can give the appearance of a soft, white dome due to their dense arrangement. Boneset's overall appearance is that of a bushy, herbaceous plant with a vertical growth habit, and it is often found in wetland areas, along streams, or in marshy meadow environments. The combination of the perfoliate leaves and the crown of white flowers makes it a distinctive plant visually, contributing to its recognition and remembrance among plant enthusiasts and herbalists.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Boneset, Thoroughwort, Common Boneset, Agueweed, Indian Sage, Sweating Plant, Vegetable Antimony, Tearal, Crosswort, Feverwort.

    • Common names

      Eupatorium connatum, Eupatorium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum, Eupatorium perfoliatum f. perfoliatum.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) has a history of medicinal use, but it can be toxic if not used properly. The plant contains potentially toxic compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which can cause liver damage and may be carcinogenic with chronic exposure. If ingested in large amounts, these PAs can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, liver damage and possible hepatic veno-occlusive disease. Care should be taken to avoid excessive consumption of the plant, and it is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before any medicinal use of boneset.

    • To pets

      Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) also poses a risk to pets due to its content of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). These compounds can be toxic to animals if ingested, potentially leading to liver damage and signs of poisoning such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and in severe cases, signs of liver failure. Chronic ingestion may increase the risk of liver cancer. As pets often do not have the ability to discern safe from toxic plants, it is imperative to prevent access to boneset to protect the health of your pets. If you suspect your pet has ingested boneset, seek immediate veterinary attention.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2-4 feet (61-122 cm)

    • Spread

      2-3 feet (61-91 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      North America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attraction for Pollinators: Eupatorium perfoliatum, commonly known as boneset, provides nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects, supporting local ecosystems.
    • Wildlife Habitat: The plant offers shelter and breeding grounds for various insects and small animals.
    • Erosion Control: The robust root system of boneset stabilizes soil, helping to prevent erosion in the area where it's planted.
    • Ornamental Value: With its cluster of white, fuzzy flowers, boneset can add aesthetic appeal to gardens and naturalized areas.
    • Adaptability: Boneset is adaptable to a range of environmental conditions, making it a hardy addition to diverse landscaping projects.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • Immune System Support: Commonly known as Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum is traditionally thought to have immune-stimulating properties.
    • Antipyretic Effects: Boneset has been used historically to reduce fever, particularly in the context of influenza and common colds.
    • Anti-inflammatory Action: Herbal remedies including Boneset are sometimes used for their potential anti-inflammatory effects.
    • Diaphoretic Influence: The plant has been used to promote sweating as part of treating fevers.
    • Respiratory System Relief: Boneset has been traditionally used to assist in alleviating symptoms associated with respiratory conditions.
    • Musculoskeletal Comfort: Historically, it was used to relieve aches and pains, particularly those related to flu-like symptoms.
    • Digestive Aid: There is traditional use of Boneset for helping to relieve minor digestive problems.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Garden Ornamental: Eupatorium perfoliatum, commonly known as boneset, is often used in gardens for its clusters of fluffy white flowers and as a food source for pollinators.
    • Companion Plant: Boneset can be planted alongside other crops to attract beneficial insects that help with pest control.
    • Dye Production: The flowers and stems of boneset can be used to produce a natural yellow dye for coloring fabrics and other materials.
    • Livestock Feed: While not a primary food source, boneset has historically been used as a supplemental forage for livestock.
    • Butterfly Garden Component: Boneset is an important nectar source for butterflies and can be used to create butterfly gardens to support local populations.
    • Erosion Control: Because of its dense growth and deep root systems, boneset can be planted to help stabilize soil and prevent erosion.
    • Bioremediation: Boneset can sometimes be used in bioremediation efforts to help restore areas with contaminated soil due to its hardiness and ability to thrive in poor conditions.
    • Ritual Uses: In some indigenous cultures, boneset may be used in various rituals or ceremonies for spiritual purposes.
    • Education and Research: Boneset is sometimes used in educational settings, such as botanical gardens or nature centers, to teach about native plants and their ecosystems.
    • Floral Arrangements: Fresh or dried boneset flowers can be used in floral arrangements and bouquets to add a natural and wildflower aesthetic.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Boneset is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Boneset is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Healing: Eupatorium perfoliatum, commonly known as Boneset, is traditionally heralded for its medicinal properties, particularly in treating fevers and bone-related ailments, symbolizing physical healing and recovery.
    • Protection: Boneset has been used in folk medicine to ward off evil spirits and protect against supernatural threats, representing a shield against harm and negative influences.
    • Perseverance: The ability of Boneset to thrive in various conditions is emblematic of resilience and the determination to overcome challenges.
    • Adaptability: Given its wide range in North America and adaptability to diverse habitats, the plant signifies the ability to adjust and prosper in different environments.

Every 1-2 weeks
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-3 years
As needed
  • water dropWater

    Boneset should be watered regularly, especially during its growing season in the spring and summer, to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Normally, watering once a week with one to two gallons of water is sufficient, but this may need to be adjusted depending on weather conditions and soil drainage. During hot and dry periods, more frequent watering may be necessary. Reduce watering in the fall and winter when the plant is dormant, ensuring the soil doesn't become dry for extended periods.

  • sunLight

    Boneset thrives in full sun to partial shade. The best spot for it would be an area that receives at least four to six hours of direct sunlight daily, but it can tolerate some light shade, especially during the hottest part of the day. Ensure the plant is not in too deep shade, as this can lead to poor growth and reduced flowering.

  • thermometerTemperature

    Boneset prefers a temperature range between 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal growth. It can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but extreme temperatures can stress the plant. The ideal conditions would be a moderate temperate climate without prolonged periods of extreme heat or cold.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Boneset can enhance its appearance, promote denser growth, and maintain plant health. It's best to prune in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Cut back the previous year's stems to about one-third of their length to encourage bushier growth. It's typically sufficient to prune once per season, unless the plant becomes leggy or overgrown, in which case a mid-season trim may be necessary.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) prefers a soil mix that is rich in organic matter and well-draining. The ideal soil pH for Boneset is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 5.5 to 7.0. A good soil mixture for Boneset can be made by combining loamy garden soil with compost and perlite or coarse sand to improve drainage.

  • plantRepotting

    Boneset does not require frequent repotting and can thrive in the same pot for several years. It should only be repotted if it has outgrown its container or if the soil has become compacted and is no longer draining properly. Repotting every 2-3 years is typically sufficient for maintaining healthy Boneset plants.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Boneset prefers a moderately humid environment but is quite adaptable and can tolerate a range of humidity levels. The best humidity level for this plant is between 60% to 70%, which is often naturally provided in outdoor settings. It can also perform well in the average indoor humidity levels found in most homes.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright, indirect light and keep the soil moist.

    • Outdoor

      Ensure partial shade and moist soil; tolerant of wet conditions.

    • Hardiness zone

      3-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The life of Eupatorium perfoliatum, commonly known as Boneset, begins with seed germination, which typically occurs in spring when soil temperatures warm. Following germination, seedlings establish themselves and develop a robust root system. The plant then enters a vegetative growth phase, where stems elongate, and leaves expand, developing the characteristic perfoliate structure where the stem appears to pierce through the leaf base. In late summer to early fall, Boneset produces clusters of small, white, fuzzy-looking flowers attractive to pollinators such as bees and butterflies. After pollination, these flowers develop into achenes—a type of small, dry, one-seeded fruit—which are dispersed by wind or water. In winter, the aerial parts of Boneset die back to the ground, while the roots remain alive, enabling the plant to regrow the next season.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • Commonly known as boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum is most popularly propagated through seed. The ideal time to sow boneset seeds is during late winter to early spring, though they can also be directly sown outdoors after the danger of frost has passed. To propagate boneset from seed, the seeds should be lightly pressed into the soil but not completely covered, as they need light to germinate. They prefer a well-draining, moist soil and should be kept at a temperature around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). Once seedlings emerge, usually within two to three weeks, they can be thinned out and eventually planted into their final positions once they are large enough to handle and the fear of frost is over.