Magazine October 14, 2019, Issue

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye weed in bloom (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)

Flowers have identities that call to bees, flies, and other pollinators, but they have no names. The names we give them are sometimes our own: Queen Anne’s lace, from the last Stuart monarch of England; Good King Henry, from a German sovereign, not the ones celebrated by Shakespeare or Herman’s Hermits. Other flower names belonged to botanists who described or grew them: monarda (from Nicolás Monardes, a 16th-century Spaniard who wrote about New World plants), forsythia (from William Forsyth, who tended George III’s gardens). Who gave his name to Joe Pye weed?

It is one of the late-summer flowers, only just

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