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Herb Gallery

Pei Lan (Eupatorium fortunei)

  • Botanical name: Eupatorium fortunei
  • Common name: Eupatorium
  • Literal name translation: ornamental orchid
  • Family: Asteraceae, aster family
  • Part used in Chinese medicine: leaves and stems
  • Major Chinese medicine actions:
  • Aromatically transforms dampness, revives the Spleen,
    regulates middle burner, releases the exterior in summer heat
Eupatorium fortunei

Photo Credits:
Photo 1: Eupatorium fortunei; Tsukuba Botanical Garden; permission under GFDL

Growing and Propagation

In it’s native habitat, the plant is found on grassy slopes and riverbeds. A perennial plant growing 24-36 inches high, it prefers sun to partial shade, with sandy, loamy soil and good drainage. It should be watered regularly during its growing period, and responds well to regular fertilization. In order to keep plants compact with an abundance of flowers, it should be cut back severely in the spring. The plant is hardy in USDA zones 4 to 7.

Pink blooms appear from late summer to early fall. Propagation is by seed or division. Seeds should be planted in a pot or cold frame in spring and transplanted to the garden in summer. Clumps of plants can be divided easily in the spring or fall and then replanted directly into the garden.

Harvesting and Preparation

For medicinal use, the dried aerial parts of the plant should consist mainly of leaves, with just a few stem pieces, and any flowers should be closed. Good quality Pei Lan is very aromatic.


There are many species of Eupatorium grown in European and American gardens, usually known by their common name “Joe Pye Weed”, “Hemp Agrimony” or “Boneset”. The particular species used in Chinese medicine is native to China, Japan, and Korea, and a bit more difficult to find in Western gardens.