Boneset for butterflies?

Asked October 14, 2020, 11:30 PM EDT

Hi I have been working on a native plant garden and purchased boneset as I read the butterflies loved it, but am now reading it causes milk sickness which can be deadly. Is boneset too risk to grow for those who live near cow and goat pastures? If so, is it still too risky to grow in a pot and immediately deadhead before it seends? Thanks!

Orange County North Carolina

1 Response

Eupatorium perfoliatum, or Boneset, is a large herbaceous, clump-forming perennial shrub with small white flowers that appear in late summer and fall. The plant grows well in average, medium to wet soils with a consistent water source. It prefers full sun or part shade and tolerates both sandy and clay soils. The soil should contain considerable organic material so that it can retain moisture. This plant can withstand flooded conditions for short periods of time, but it is not really aquatic. The root system produces rhizomes in abundance and Boneset typically forms vegetative colonies.

Historically, Boneset was commonly included in medical herb gardens and used as a folk medicine for treatment of cases of flu, fevers, colds, and a variety of other maladies. Some authorities claim the name Boneset refers to a former use of the plant to aid the healing process for broken bones; others claim that the name is in reference to the plant's use as a diaphoretic in the treatment of an 18th century influenza called break bone fever. All parts of the plant are quite toxic and bitter.

go to to learn more about this plant.This plant has a low toxicity level, but the toxicity can be passed through breast milk or from animal to its young if the animal eats the root of the plant (snakeroot). This plant can be used for medicinal healing properties.

I don't think you have too much of a problem unless you are feeding the composted roots to your cattle or goats.