The Heritage Herb Garden at the Ozark Folk Center graces the park with visual colors and textures, sweet and pungent aromas, and helps us to interpret the history of the human use of plants. 

Boneset, Eupatorium perfoliatum, is a native perennial wildflower and herb. Its white clusters of flowers are in full bloom now at the top of the plants. The lance-shaped leaves are long and pointed with serrated edges. They are arranged opposite one another and are without leaf twigs. They clasp the main stem, giving the leaf bases the appearance of being perforated by the main stem. All aboveground parts are hirsute, with short, fuzzy hairs. Boneset prefers damp soils and full sun or partial shade. 

Medicinally, the leaves and flowers are a traditional remedy for fevers given in a cold or hot infusion. The bitter preparation causes sweating, which breaks the fever. It was used to treat dengue fever, which was felt all the way to the bone and was commonly called “breakbone fever”. Though boneset has been used to treat colds and flu, constipation, liver problems, malaria and skin conditions in the past, this plant has not been researched extensively and so scientific evidence for boneset’s efficacy is lacking. However, the chemical constituents of the herb would indicate that the old wives and yarb doctors were on to something. I hope that modern science will catch up to those old timers. If I don’t see you in the future—I’ll see you in the pasture!