Common Name: Boneset
Scientific Name: Eupatorium perfoliatum
Habitat & Range: wet ditches, meadows, and roadsides
Bloom Time: summer and fall
About: Boneset is yet another white, flat-topped flower you will find in bloom in the summertime. The flower resembles Yarrow, but it is easily identified by its unique rough leaves, which are joined to the opposite leaf at the base so that it looks like the stem goes right through one large leaf. (Unfortunately, the specimen in my photo below had well-chewed leaves so you can’t really tell.) It’s an important nectar plant and has been used medicinally in the past to treat dengue fever. However, it is toxic to humans, so this is another plant you have to be careful with. Old herbals may advocate its use as a tea to treat coughs and colds, but it can cause liver damage, muscle tremors, and other problems. Overdose can be deadly. Best to leave it to the butterflies.
Reference: Wildflowers of Michigan by Stan Tekiela; Adventure Publications, 2000
Common Name: Common Yarrow
Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium
Habitat & Range: dry, sunny fields, prairies, and woods
Bloom Time: summer
About: Another white, flat-topped flower (which is far less insidious and far more useful than Water Hemlock) you will find blooming this time of year is Common Yarrow. If you garden with perennials, you probably know there are many lovely cultivars of Yarrow to be found at your local nursery. Common Yarrow is a bit less showy, but a very useful plant that has been used medicinally for perhaps millenia to slow or stop the flow of blood from wounds (including by the legendary Achilles during the Trojan wars–hence the first part of its scientific name). It is a good companion plant in your garden because it attracts beneficial insects such as ladybugs and predatory wasps. Young leaves can be dried and used as an herb or cooked and eaten as a green. You can find many more uses and recipes in herbals.
Here it is growing alongside lookalike Queen Anne’s Lace:
Yarrow is upper left and Queen Anne’s Lace is lower right.
Reference: Wildflowers of Michigan by Stan Tekiela; Adventure Publications, 2000 (also Wikipedia)