One of my favorite Fall blooming flowers here in Tennessee had been a mystery to me. I finally decided to look for an answer to its identity. After looking at about 50 pictures of flowering blue to purple native plants I finally found an answer. It is the Blue Mist Flower.
What’s In A Name?
To be more exact, the scientific name is Eupatorium coelestinum. The Latin genus name means “coned-shaped, nodding Flowers” while the species name means “sky blue”. It also goes by many other common names like: Wild Blue Ageratum, (though it is in another family than the Ageratums), Break-bone, Blue Bonset, and many others.
A Butterfly and Bee Favorite:
One thing you will notice quickly when these flowers start to bloom in late Summer and early Fall is the many kinds of insects that feed on this plant. You will see lots of different kinds of butterflies, bees, moths, beetles, and flies landing on the flower tops gathering nectar. For this reason they are often planted in Butterfly gardens by those who love to watch their Lepidoptera friends.
Often Comes in Multiple Colors:
It’s interesting to note all the variations you can find in the coloring of the flowers on these plants. Some times they are bright blue. Other times they are more purplish in color and they even come in white. I found it interesting that on some plants you could find all three colors.
Some Identifying Characteristics:
Blue Mist Flowers can be planted by seed but more often a gardener may find rhizome root cuttings to get a quicker result. As the plants grow and spread their underground root system insures they will be ready to spring up and flower in the years to come since they are Perennial plants. They usually grow up in large clumps of closely spaced stalks. They have opposite triangular leaves and usually grow to 1-4 ft. in height. They have composite flowers like other members of the sunflower family. The flowers almost look fuzzy when viewed in their flower heads. They have multiple, long, skinny petals. The flowering heads often tend to droop as they mature. When the leaves are crushed they smell similar to tomato vines.
You will often find these flowers growing anywhere where there is an abundance of water, like along ditches, creeks, rivers, lakes, low moist meadows, roadsides, and fence-lines. It is also interesting to note how important these plants are in preventing erosion from the water that runs over the surface on its way downhill. Their root system nets through the soft soil holding it in place.
Found to Be Useful in Many Other Ways:
While reading many different articles about these plants I found that they have been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Native Americans and early settlers used the crushed leaves to prevent ticks and mosquitoes from biting. They also used the essential oils to treat sore throats, coughing and skin conditions. One of their common names, Bone-break, comes from their use in treatment of broken bones. It seems that this plant’s rich antioxidants promote calcium production helping bones heal and become stronger more quickly. The oils from these plants have been used as an insecticide to prevent damage from nematodes in the soil that cause crop damage as well as being used in grain storage areas to prevent pests that can destroy the crops. It also kills and repels many kinds of mites and spiders.
It is important to note, however, that any medicinal use of these plants be guided by doctors and scientists that have tested these measures.
Some people are allergic to the pollen and oils of these plants. It is best to leave it to the experts to find new applications to the use of these plants. It’s interesting to note that the oils from these plants are often used in cosmetics for their antioxidants when mixed with other ingredients.
Often Used In Flowering Arrangements:
Since these flowers bloom in the Fall when many other types of flowers are scarce, you will often find them mixed in flower arrangements to add a little color and texture. Since they have long stalks they can easily be added to add height to and arrangement.
Thinking of Flowers:
While learning so many interesting things about these flowers God created, I was also reminded of the promise in Matthew 6: 25-34. How important it is to let God remind us through his creation of his love, care and purpose for us.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you- you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” NIV