Description & Overview

Purple Meadow Rue is a Wisconsin native perennial found throughout the state in mesic to moist meadows, along streambanks, ditches, prairies, and meadows. The plant is mostly dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants, with slightly different features. The flowers are delicate and apetalous, either showing off white-green stamens, or white pistils. Male plants tend to be showier than females. The leaves are blue-green and resemble Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis).

You may also know this plant as Tall Meadow Rue.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: Yes

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 2-5 feet

Mature Spread: 2-3 feet

Growth Rate: Perennial

Growth Form: Upright, clump-forming

Light Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade

Site Requirements: Moist to wet, loamy soil

Flower: Green-white, 10" inflorescence,

Bloom Period: June – July

Foliage: Blue-green, hairy undersides, mostly three-lobed, compound three to five leaflets, mostly basal

Fall Color: Yellow to none

Urban Approved: Yes

Fruit Notes: Dry seed, ¼", matures to dark brown.

Suggested Uses

Purple Meadow Rue prefers dappled afternoon sun and moist, rich soil. Place it on the east side of a house or on the edge of a woodland where it will receive some relief from hot and humid conditions, which it cannot tolerate.

Grouping plantings in the background of a wildflower garden or bee-friendly garden will add texture and entice pollinators. Its unique bluish-green foliage makes an appearance in early spring reaching heights of five feet or more, topped by tiny, purplish-white flowers. Showy flowers and foliage give it a fine, airy texture while the sheer height pops in the landscape, making it a great backdrop to any perennial border, native garden, or woodland edge.

Purple Meadow Rue is a Wisconsin native perennial found throughout the state in mesic to moist meadows, along streambanks, ditches, prairies, and mead…

Wildlife Value

Female flowers are devoid of nectar, while male flowers offer pollen. Female flowers are wind-pollinated.

Purple Meadow Rue is the larval host plant to the Pink-patched Looper Moth (Eosphoropteryx thyatyroides), Straight-lined Looper Moth (Pseudeva purpurigera), and Canadian Owlet (Calyptera canadensis).

Other visitors include Crab spiders (Thomisidae), Syrphid Flies (Melanostoma spp.), Cuckoo bees (Nomada spp.), Large Mining bees (Andrena spp.), Sweat Bees (Lasioglossum spp. and Halictus spp.), Mason bees (Osmia spp.), and small carpenter bees (Ceratina spp.).

Maintenance Tips

There are no serious disease or insect problems, although good air circulation between plants will help prevent powdery mildew and rust.

Though its stems are quite strong, taller plants may need support to prevent flopping.

Purple Meadow Rue can be divided in spring every three to four years while dormant; however, transplants may take some time to establish and thrive.

Purple Meadow Rue is a Wisconsin native perennial found throughout the state in mesic to moist meadows, along streambanks, ditches, prairies, and mead…

Pests/Problems

Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: Yes
Rabbit Resistant: Yes

Purple Meadow Rue is in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), so while deer usually leave these plants alone, they may nibble on the leaves sparingly if nothing more appealing is available.

Leaf Lore

The Genus name Thalictrum is a name given to plants in this Genus that had divided leaves. The specific epithet, “dasycarpum” translates to “hairy-fruited.”

The seeds seem to be the most versatile in terms of ethnobotanical usage. The Dakota stored the seeds with clothing for their pleasant, outdoorsy odor, scattering and rubbing them on their clothing. Seeds were given to horses as a stimulant by the Lakota and Pawnee. The Potawatomi mixed seeds with tobacco when going to court a female. They also used seeds and leaves for cramp relief. The Meskwaki used Purple Meadow Rue as love medicine to reconcile couples in a spat. There is no definitive proof that it worked, however.

The hollow and strong stems were used by children of the Dakota, Ponca, and Pawnee tribes to make toy flutes.

Companion Plants

Combine with other natives including Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis), White Wild Indigo (Baptisia alba), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum virginicum), and Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis).

White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), Ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata), Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana), Shreve’s Iris (Iris virginica var. shrevei), Meadow Anemone (Anemone canadensis), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Fox Sedge (Carex vulpinoidea), and Halberd-leaved Mallow (Hibiscus laevis) enjoy similar conditions.

Purple Meadow Rue is a Wisconsin native perennial found throughout the state in mesic to moist meadows, along streambanks, ditches, prairies, and mead…
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Written by Beth DeLain