Eupatorium perfoliatum L.

Last updated: 24 Aug 2016

Scientific Name

Eupatorium perfoliatum L.


Cunigunda perfoliata (L.) Lunell, Eupatorium chapmanii Small, Eupatorium connatum Michx. [Illegitimate], Eupatorium connatum Michaux, Eupatorium cuneatum Engelm. ex Torr. & A.Gray [Invalid], Eupatorium perfoliatum var. colpophilum Fernald & Griscom, Eupatorium perfoliatum var. cuneatum Engelm., Eupatorium perfoliatum f. laciniatum Stebbins, Eupatorium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum, Eupatorium perfoliatum f. perfoliatum, Eupatorium perfoliatum f. purpureum Britton, Eupatorium perfoliatum f. trifolium Fassett, Eupatorium perfoliatum f. truncatum (Muhl. ex Willd.) Fassett, Eupatorium salviifolium Sims, Eupatorium truncatum Muhl. ex Willd., Eupatorium x truncatum Muhl. ex Willd., Uncasia cuneata (Engelm. ex Torr. & A.Gray) Greene [Invalid], Uncasia perfoliata (L.) Greene, Uncasia truncate (Mühlenb. ex Willd.) Greene. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Ague weed, boneset, common boneset, crossword, feverweed, Indian sage, purple boneset, sweating-plant, thoroughwort. [2]

Geographical Distributions

Eupatorium perfoliatum is a perennial herb found native to the eastern half of North America, ranging from Nova Scotia to Florida, from Texas to North Dakota. The plant is commonly thought of as a weed and is found near wetlands, near lakes and swamps thriving on moist, nutrient-rich soil. [3]

Botanical Description

E. perfoliatum is a member of Compositae family. [1] This perennial plant is 2-4' tall and unbranched, except for some flowering side stems near the apex. [4]

The central stem and side stems are covered with long white hairs. [4]

The opposite leaves are up to 20 cm long and 5 cm across, and light or yellowish green. Their bases surround the central stem and merge together (perfoliate). In shape, they are lanceolate with long narrow tips and serrate margins. There is a conspicuous network of veins, particularly on the lower leaf surface. This lower surface is also pubescent. Some of the upper leaves near the inflorescence(s) are much smaller in size and sessile. [4]

The upper stems terminate in clusters of white flowerheads, spanning about 2-8" across. Each flowerhead is about 1/6" across and consists of about 15 disk florets. Each disk floret has 5 spreading lobes and a long divided style, in the manner of other Eupatorium spp. The blooming period is late summer to early fall, which typically lasts about 1-2 months for a colony of plants. There is a pleasant floral scent. The florets are replaced by achenes with small tufts of hair – they are dispersed by the wind. [4]

The root system is fibrous and produces rhizomes in abundance. Common Boneset typically forms vegetative colonies. [4]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Methanol and water extract of E. perfoliatum has been reported to contain caffeic acid derivatives (e.g. 5-caffeoylquinic acid (chlorogenic acid), 3-caffeoylquinic acid (neochlorogenic acid), 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic acid, 2,5-dicaffeoylglucaric acid, 3,4-dicaffeoylglucaric acid, and 2,4- or 3,5-dicaffeoylglucaric acid). [5]

E. perfoliatum extract has been reported to contain sesquiterpene lactones (e.g. euperfolin, euperfolitin, eufoliatin, and eufoliatorin). [6]

Plant Part Used

Flowers and leaves. [7]

Traditional Use

The most common usage of E. perfoliatum by Native American medical practitioners is that of a diaphoretic, especially in treating fever, colds and cough. [7]

The leaves of E. perfoliatum have been used topically to assist in healing broken bones, indicative of the origin of the common name “Boneset”. Both the Abenaki [8] and Iroquois [9] use the fresh leaves or a poultice, respectively, to decrease recovery time when bones are broken. External preparations were also made for treating cuts and bruises. [10]

In larger doses, E. perfoliatum has been used as an emetic. [8] These larger dosages result in both vomiting, and evacuation of the bowels, therefore presumably removing the cause of gastrointestinal distress from the body. [7]

Additionally, several Native American tribes have identified E. perfoliatum as having an analgesic activity and therefore effective for many types of pain, including gastrointestinal discomfort. An infusion of the plant was thought to relieve pain from the kidneys and the liver as well. [8]

Both internal and external applications of E. perfoliatum have been used by various Native American tribes as a treatment for the pain of rheumatism. [7][8]

E. perfoliatum also played a significant role in sacred ceremonies of several Native American tribes. [10]

Preclinical Data


E. perfoliatum extract has been demonstrated significant inhibitory on parasite multiplication in mice, thus would be good candidates in the treatment of malaria. [11]

In in vitro and in vivo settings, extracts of E. perfoliatum were compared to extracts of Echinacea angustifolia and two additional extracts. E. perfoliatum demonstrated stimulation of phagocytosis at 50% higher rate than Echinacea. [12]

Ethanol extract of E. perfoliatum leaves extract has been demonstrated a potent cytotoxic activity with EC50 values (12–14 µg/mL) comparable to a standard cytotoxic agent, chlorambucil and mild antibacterial activity. [13]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

In a controlled trial of 53 patients suffering from the cold virus, the experimental group was treated with the homeopathic preparation of E. perfoliatum and the control group with acetylsalicylic acid. All parameters measured were comparable in both groups. [14]


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


No documentation.


Dosage Range

Dosages will vary by tribe, indication and specific preparation. The powder of E. perfoliatum is used from 12-20 grains, extract from 2-4 grains and infusion up to 8oz per day. [7]

Most Common Dosage

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Eupatorium perfoliatum L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Feb 11, cited 2016 Aug 24]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume III E-L. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 161.
  3. Allen GM, Bond MD, Main MB. 50 common native plants important in Florida’s ethnobotanical history. University of Florida; 2002. Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (IFAS). Circula 1439 scientific reports.
  4. Encyclopedia of Life. Eupatorium perfoliatum. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 Aug 24]. Available from:
  5. Maas M, Petereit F, Hensel A. Caffeic acid derivatives from Eupatorium perfoliatum L. Molecules. 2009;14:36-45.
  6. Herz W, Kalyanaraman PS, Ramakrishnan G. Sesquiterpene lactones of Eupatorium perfoliatum. J Org Chem. 1977;42(13):2264-2271.
  7. Hutchens, A. Indian herbalogy of North America. Boston, Massachusetts: Shambala, 1991; p. 60-62.
  8. Moerman DE. Native American ethnobotany. Portland, Oregon: Timber Press; 2009.
  9. Austin DF. Florida ethnobotany. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2004.
  10. Kavasch EB, Baar K. Native Indian healing arts. New York: Bantum Press; 1997.
  11. Lira Salazar G, Marines Montiel E, Torres Monzón J, Hernández Hernández F, Salas Benito JS. Effects of homeophatic medications Eupatorium perfoliatum and Arsenicum album on parasitemia of Plasmodium berghei-infected mice. Homeopathy. 2006;95(4):223-228.
  12. Wagner H, Jurcic K. [Immunologic studies of plant combination preparations. In vitro and in vivo studies on the stimulation of phagocytosis]. Arzneimittelforschung. 1991;41(10):1072-1076. German.
  13. Habtemariam S, Macpherson AM. Cytotoxicity and antibacterial activity of ethanol extract from leaves of a herbal drug, Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum). Phytother Res. 2000;14(7):575-577.
  14. Gassinger CA, Wünstel G, Netter P. [A controlled clinical trial for testing the efficacy of the homeophatic drug Eupatorium perfoliatum D2 in the treatment of common cold]. Arzneimittelforschung. 1981;31(4):732-736. German.