Parthenium integrifolium, Wild Quinine

Wild Quinine has yet to make a splash in home gardens, but it has many virtues making it worthy of consideration: Easy to grow, long-blooming, attractive to many pollinators, an upright form and excellent foliage, a pleasant medicinal fragrance, and dried flowers for arrangements.

Cultivation

Wild Quinine is said to grow in full sun or part shade, depending on the source. In very hot locations, part shade is likely to suit it best, but in most places in Floyd it should do quite well in a full sun garden spot. Well-drained soil seems to be the only consistent requirement, making most of Floyd’s soils suitable in theory. But the beautiful foliage and long-flowering habit will probably need decent moisture to show their full potential. This clump-forming tap-rooted perennial self-sows readily, so plant with this in mind. Combine with Liatris, Monarda, Echinacea and Black-Eyed Susan for a beautiful late summer show.

P. integrifolium growing with Monarda fistulosa, Andropogon gerardii, Ratibida pinnata in a restored tallgrass prairie in Illinois. Photo by cassi saari (Hyperik)CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Ecology

Wild Quinine is said to attract many pollinators over its long bloom period, and to make a nice addition to prairie plantings both for its nectar production and self-sowing habit. Prairie Moon Nursery includes among those pollinators, “Halictine bees, wasps, flies, and beetles.” Although it can be found growing in Virginia’s protected barrens, it prefers high quality habitats and is usually absent from disturbed sites, as suggested by its C-value of 6.

Virginia Heritage Communities

The Virginia Heritage Communities represent relatively intact mature ecosystems, as opposed to roadsides and fields which would be categorized as disturbed or even ruderal. Or as opposed to forests that are growing back from having been logged, sometimes called secondary growth forests. In the Heritage Communities, Parthenium integrifolium tends to be associated with outcrop barrens, not because it prefers these growing conditions, but because Southwest Virginia’s mature ecosystems are usually dense forests where this herb would not find enough sunlight to grow. The handful of mature ecosystems in this part of Appalachia where Wild Quinine might find a toehold include the barrens.

Human Uses

According to Wikipedia: “The leaves of the plant contain tannins and the plant was used for medicinal and veterinary purposes by Native Americans. The Catawba people used it as a poultice to treat burns. The ashes were applied to horses with “sore backs”. The roots were made into a tea to treat dysentery.”

PLANT FACTS


Scientific Name

Parthenium integrifolium

Other names: American Feverfew, Eastern Feverfew, Prairie Dock

Family: Asteraceae (asters).

Native Status

Native to Floyd County

Native Range Map (Virginia Counties) for Parthenium integrifolium

Source: Digital Atlas of the Virginia Flora

Native to the eastern and midwestern United States.

Other Floyd County native Parthenium: P. auriculatum, P. hysterophorus, P. integrifolium var. integrifolium, P. integrifolium var. mabryanum.

Culture Notes

Height: 3-5 ft, Spacing guide: 1'-2'. Bloom Color: White. Bloom Time: Summer/Early Fall (Jun-Sep). Light: Full sun to part shade. Moisture: Semi-dry to moist (submesic to subhydric) conditions. Soils: Well drained sand, loam, clay-loam.

Habitat

USDA Zones: 4-8. National Wetland Status Indicator: none. C-Value: 6. Successional Role: Subclimax, stable.

Virginia Ecology

Virginia Habitat: "Dry-mesic to dry, open forests, woodlands, barrens, and clearings; mostly on acidic to moderately basic soils. Frequent in the mountains (except sw. Virginia) and Piedmont; infrequent in the Coastal Plain." (The Flora, 2023). Virginia Natural Communities: Low-Elevation Outcrop Barrens

Ecosystem Services

Nectar for Native Nectar-Feeders

Wildlife Supported: Halictine bees, wasps, flies, and beetles.

Propagation

Propagate by seed. Seed Germination: C60 - 60 days cold moist stratification required

Where to Buy

Prairie Moon Nursery, Prairie Nursery, New Moon Nursery