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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Native Wildflowers of the North Dakota Grasslands

JPG -- species photo

False Boneset (Kuhnia eupatorioides)

Found in flower well into September on the Dakota prairies, false boneset occurs in most states east of the Rocky Mountains, at elevations up to 6,500 ft.

This perennial plant will win no prizes for showiness or beauty. False boneset is narrow and stands up to two feet tall. The branched crown of each stem is topped by a few to several dozen sordid, creamy-white flower heads about a half-inch wide. Leaves are narrow toothed and rough to the touch; large and opposite each other on the lower stem, they become progressively smaller and spaced alternately near the top of the plant. Fruits are 10-ribbed achenes plumed as in dandelions, to be carried by the wind.

Look for false boneset around the bases of hills and along valleys. This plant is evidently of little forage value as it is found in greater abundance in heavily and moderately grazed areas. However, the plant seldom becomes a nuisance in our area. Pioneers and early settlers used tea made from false boneset to induce perspiration and as a bitter tonic for the stomach.

False boneset is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae) of which there are about 15,000 species worldwide and about 200 species in North Dakota. Kuhnia was named in honor of Dr. Adam Kuhn of Philadelphia who, in the mid-1700's, carried a living plant of false boneset overseas for description by the great Swedish naturalist Carl von Linne (Linnaeus). Eupatorioides means "like Eupatorium" in botanical Latin. Eupatorium is the true boneset from which another medicinal tea is made.

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