Alphabetical Plant Listing

Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant)

Compassplant, Compass Plant, Gopher Plant, Pilot Plant, Pilot Weed, Polar Plant, Ragged Cup, Rosin Weed


Slow-growing, long-lived and  eye-catching, Silphium laciniatum (Compass Plant) is a tall, coarse perennial with stiff and sturdy, erect, hairy stems adorned with brilliant yellow daisy flowers, 5 in. across (12 cm), scattered along their top half. Blooming in midsummer to early fall, the flowers resemble small sunflowers with their yellow rays surrounding a yellow central disk. Reminiscent of pin oak leaves, the basal foliage of large, deeply cut, hairy leaves, up to 2 ft. in length (60 cm), usually orients itself north and south to avoid the heat of the midday sun, hence the common name. Attractive to butterflies and birds, the flowers are followed by large seeds that are favored by birds and small mammals. Native Americans used the gummy, bitter resin from broken stems as a mouth cleansing chewing gum. Silphium laciniatum is a stout perennial for the back of the perennial border and a great choice for prairie reconstructions or other natural plantings.

  • Grows up to 5-9 ft. tall (150-270 cm) and 2-3 ft. wide (60-90 cm).
  • Performs best in full sun in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils. Tolerates poor soils. Drought tolerant once established.
  • No serious pest or disease issues.
  • Great for prairies or meadows, cottage gardens, wildflower gardens and beds and borders.
  • Propagate by seed. Seedlings take 2-3 years to flower. Sow unstratified seed in spring or stratified in fall. Compass Plant has a large taproot that may reach down 15 ft (450 cm), making division difficult.
  • Native to central North America.

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Requirements

Hardiness 5 – 9
Heat Zones 5 – 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Silphium
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 5' – 9' (150cm – 270cm)
Spread 2' – 3' (60cm – 90cm)
Spacing 36" (90cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, New York, Pennsylvania, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

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Frank Mayfield, Flickr

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 5 – 9
Heat Zones 5 – 9
Plant Type Perennials
Plant Family Silphium
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Mid,Late)
Fall
Height 5' – 9' (150cm – 270cm)
Spread 2' – 3' (60cm – 90cm)
Spacing 36" (90cm)
Water Needs Low, Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Clay, Loam
Soil pH Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, New York, Pennsylvania, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Southeast, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Southwest, Oklahoma, Texas
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil
Attracts Birds, Butterflies
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles Informal and Cottage, Prairie and Meadow

Great Plant Combination Ideas with Silphium

Guides with Silphium

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