Plants for butterflies: hemp agrimony

Hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum) is one of the very best plants for attracting butterflies: even better than buddleia. Despite its name, it has nothing at all to do with cannabis or hemp.

Hemp agrimony flowers with red admiral and peacock butterflies.
Hemp agrimony flowers with red admiral and peacock butterflies.

Hemp agrimony is a hardy perennial that is native to the UK. Although seldom grown as a garden plant, it is certainly worth considering if you are planning a wildlife area in your garden.  It prefers soils that are moist a good deal of the time and quite a sunny position. Although it can be grown from seed, it is simpler and more reliable to divide a clump if you know somebody who has some they can share with you.

The flowers, a frothy mass of pale pinky-mauve appear in July and August – just in time for many butterflies. The dried flowers and leaves of hemp agrimony are sometimes used as an infusion which has a mildly cleansing and toning effect.

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3 thoughts on “Plants for butterflies: hemp agrimony”

  1. As soon as i saw the photo I thought “Eupatorium!”. We have a similar species (E. maculatum, joe-pye-weed) in Minnesota that grows in wet meadows and other damp sunny places. It is a butterfly and bee magnet, too, and also fragrant. Red admirals and silver spangled fritillaries are frequent visitors. I’ve seen caterpillars on the leaves but do not know which species they are.

    I saw a place north of here last week that is burned every few years to keep it open for grouse, It is about 5 acres and was completely purple with joe-pye-weed.

    1. I love some of the names given to plants over there: Joe-pye weed – makes me think of popeye and always makes me smile. Often I’ll read things from the US and have absolutely no idea what’s being talked about, but like the sounds of the names anyway.

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