The genus Persea (Persea gratissima) contains over 1,000 species. Most of them are not edible but some are used in traditional medicine such as as a diuretic or laxative.
Some medicinal properties have been attributed to these plants and they may even possess anti-cancer properties. There are many different types of bonesets, which differ according to their size and shape. They all grow from stems with leaves at the top.
Boneset plants belong to the family Verbenaceae and are commonly known as “boneset” or “bone weed”. They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes.
You will see that there are several types of bonesets. These include:
1. Bone weed (Pseudotsuga menziesii) – The largest type of boneset, it grows up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet across.
It is usually found growing along river banks where it is often surrounded by large numbers of other small bonesets.
2. Crossing bones (Brickellia eupatorioides) – This type of boneset is smaller than the other types at around 1 foot in height and 2 feet in width.
It is a very common type of boneset and grows in large numbers alongside rivers and in forests. It has very tiny leaves and is particularly easy to recognize.
3. Tall boneset (Brickellia verticillata) – This is the 2nd smallest type of boneset at around 1 foot in height and 18 inches in width.
It is a rarer type of plant and is very similar to the crossing bones type.
4. Parry’s boneset (Eupatorium parvifolium var.
parryi) – This is a very rare type of boneset and is only found in a small area of Arizona. It is the smallest type of boneset at around 10 inches in height and 6 inches in width.
5. Slender boneset (E.
gracile) – This type of boneset is around 2 feet in height and width. It is a rare type of boneset and you are unlikely to see it anywhere other than in the rocky cliffs of Missouri.
Tips For Growing Bonesets
Bonesets are fairly easy to grow but they do not take too much maintenance or extra care. They grow best in open fields or meadows with full sun exposure.
The soil should be light and well-drained.
The best time of year to plant bonesets is in the fall. You should only do this a few weeks before winter sets in as they do not like excessive watering.
If you live in an area that tends to get a lot of snow, it may be best to cover your bonesets with a thick layer of mulch to avoid the snow from crushing and damaging their delicate stems.
Most types of bonesets require little maintenance other than the occasional trimming to keep them from growing out of control. Some types of bonesets can grow up to 3 feet in height so you will need to keep an eye on them and trim them back if they start growing out of control.
How o Prune Bonesets
Most boneset plants should not need any pruning as they are not prone to getting out of control. If you notice any dead or diseased branches, you can prune these at any time.
You should do this before the branch falls off as the branches tend to be very brittle and will snap easily if subjected to any force after they have broken off. You should avoid pruning the plants during the spring months as they produce flowers during this time.
When growing bonesets for medical purposes it is best not to prune them at all. If you wish to harvest any of the bonesets, you can easily break them off the stem.
You can also carefully pluck them off if you are careful not to damage the stem or surrounding vegetation.
Boneset attracts a lot of different insects including bees and butterflies so you may notice them flying around your plants from time to time. This is perfectly normal and there is no need to worry as the insects will not affect your plants.
Invasive Nature Of Some Types Of Bonesets
Although most types of bonesets are not invasive, there are some types that can be very invasive in the right conditions. These types tend to grow very quickly and produce a lot of seeds.
Many gardeners consider these types to be weeds as they can easily take over an area if left unchecked.
In particular, the climbing boneset (Eupatorium scabrum) is a very invasive type of boneset. It can reach heights of up to 15 feet and it has the ability to climb.
It spreads very quickly and produces large amounts of seed. If you live in an area that gets a lot of rain, you need to be careful with this type as it can quickly take over your yard if left unchecked.
Even in dry areas, it tends to grow very quickly and outcompete surrounding plants. It can quickly take over an area and leave very little growing space for anything else.
It is native to the United States so it is perfectly natural and not really considered to be invasive.
Difficulty Of Growing Bonesets
Bonesets grow best in open fields or meadows but they can grow in partial shade. They need a lot of direct sunlight so they do not do well in wooded areas or shaded gardens.
Although they are perennial plants, some types do not survive the harsher colder winter months in certain climates.
Many types of bonesets grow best in dry conditions but they can tolerate moist conditions as well. They can grow in virtually any soil type except for really compacted soil or heavy clay.
The best way to plant bonesets is to place the seeds onto the bare ground and lightly cover them with soil.
If you want to grow them from seeds, you will find that they can easily be gathered directly from the plants themselves. They do not need to be planted in pots or containers of any kind.
Caring For Bonesets
Bonesets are very easy to take care of and do not require much maintenance. You will not need to worry about weeding as bonesets do not compete well with other plants.
The fallen leaves and other dead plant material can simply be left on the ground as it will naturally break down over time.
As mentioned, bonesets are not really prone to insect infestation but if you do notice any, there are many organic methods that can be used to take care of them. If you want to use chemical pesticides or herbicides, be aware that these can have a poisonous effect on bonesets.
When it comes to harvesting bonesets, you can simply break off the stems of flowers and leaves as you need them. You can also cut them from the plant entirely and dry them out for later use.
Dried bonesets tend to keep their useful properties for much longer periods of time.
Boneset is an amazing plant that has many important historical uses. It can be used to help treat cold and flu symptoms as well as help with many other medical conditions.
It is important that you do not rely on boneset to cure any medical condition that you may have. In most cases, it should only be used in conjunction with modern medical treatments.
It is also not a substitute for proper medical care.
If you are interested in growing bonesets, they are very easy to grow from seeds or cuttings. They can also be harvested year round for their healing properties.
Other plant species from the same family as boneset include the Indian tobacco and the Lobelia. These may have important medical uses as well so it could be worth your time to look into these related plants.
Sources & references used in this article:
Potentially toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids in Eupatorium perfoliatum and three related species. Implications for herbal use as boneset by SM Colegate, R Upton, DR Gardner… – Phytochemical …, 2018 – Wiley Online Library
Eupatorium leucolepis (DC.) T. & G. var. novae-angliae Fern. New England Boneset by T Elliman – backstage.newenglandwild.org
Small scale additions of native plants fail to increase beneficial insect richness in urban gardens by KC Matteson, GA Langellotto – Insect Conservation and …, 2011 – Wiley Online Library