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Silphium laciniatum L.
Compassplant, Compass plant
USDA Symbol: SILA3
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
Compassplant is a tall, coarse, sunflower-like perennial, growing 3-12 ft. high. Deeply cut, hairy leaves, up to 2 ft. in length, usually orient themselves north and south to avoid the heat of the noonday sun. Scattered along the top half of the stout, sticky stem are 2-5 in. wide, yellow, radiate flowers. A tall plant bearing yellow flower heads with large, hairy-edged, green bracts; stem exudes resinous sap
Compass Plant is one of a group of tall, mostly prairie sunflowers, some with very large leaves. The common name refers to the plants deeply incised leaves, which tend to be oriented in a north-south direction. The hardened sap of this plant can be chewed like gum. Rosinweed (S. integrifolium) has opposite, very rough, stalkless, untoothed or slightly toothed leaves and is 2-5 (60-150 cm) tall. Cup Plant (S. perfoliatum) has opposite leaves that envelop its square stem, each leaf forming a cup around it. Prairie Dock (S. terebinthinaceum) has large, ovate or heart-shaped, basal leaves to 2 (60 cm) long; the sparsely leaved flower stalk sometimes reaches a height of nearly 10 (3 m).
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf Retention: Deciduous Flower:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep
AL , AR , CO , DC , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MI , MN , MO , MS , ND , NE , NM , NY , OH , OK , PA , SD , TN , TX , VA , WI Canada: ON Native Distribution:
OH to LA, w. to e. Great Plains Native Habitat:
Prairies USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N)
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement:
Sun Soil Moisture:
Dry Drought Tolerance:
High Soil Description:
Various well-drained soils. Conditions Comments:
Compass plant has a large, woody taproot
that may reach down 15 ft. Slow-growing, long-lived, eye-catching, sunflower-like blooms. (Ontario Native
BenefitUse Wildlife: The large seeds are favored by birds and small mammals.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Nectar Source: yes
PropagationDescription: Most easily propagated by seed. Seedlings take 2-3 years to flower. Sow unstratified seed in spring or stratified in fall. Deep roots make division difficult.
Seed Collection: Collect in Sep. and Oct.
Seed Treatment: Damp stratification (2 months at 40 degrees) and scarification.
Commercially Avail: yes
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
- Westfield, WI
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Record Modified: 2012-12-09
Research By: TWC Staff