(Hairy Chaffhead)Wasn't Hairy Chaffhead a 70's singer who was famous for the song "Cattails in the Cradle"? I must be confused. The genus Carphephorus is a relative of eupatorium (Joe Pye weed) and liatris that contains just 7 species, all native to the Southeast US (including North Carolina). Carphephorus plants have a short rosette of leaves and in the late summer, a 3' flower stalk emerges from the rosette to produce a loose cluster of pinkish-purple flowers that look somewhat like a really tall liatris.
The flowers are magnets for butterflies who flock to Carphephorus looking for nectar. One member of the genus ( Carphephorus odoratissimus) has leaves that smell like vanilla and coumarin (a sweet odor similar to newly mown hay) when bruised. In the past, the leaves were mixed in with pipe tobacco for those who wanted their breath to smell good and bad at the same time.
In the wild, some carphephorus species are found in seepage bogs and others in upland xeric sandy forests. In the garden, give Carphephorus full to part sun and well-drained (even sandy) soil. Try combining carphephorus with coreopsis, gaillardia, vernonia and goldenrod for a coastal meadow look. When you are ready to buy carphephorus for your perennial garden, we hope you'll check out our online list of carphephorus for sale.