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Silphium perfoliatum (Cup plant)
Brundage, Stephanie

Silphium perfoliatum

Silphium perfoliatum L.

Cup Plant, Indian Cup

Asteraceae (Aster Family)


USDA Symbol: SIPE2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A coarse perennial, 3-6+ ft. tall with numerous large, yellow composite flowers. Each flower head has 20-30 yellow rays and darker yellow discs. Stout leaves are joined at stem to form a small cup that holds water and attracts birds.

The small cup formed by the leaves holds water and attracts birds.


From the Image Gallery

47 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Notes: Up to about 10 feet tall.
Fruit: Fruit is a cypsela (pl. cypselae). Though technically incorrect, the fruit is often referred to as an achene.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AL , AR , CT , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: S. Ont. to NC, w. to e. Great Plains
Native Habitat: Moist woods; prairies; low ground

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist , Wet
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Wet to mesic soils. Will tolerate clay soil.
Conditions Comments: Unstoppable urge to reproduce, they will pop up everywhere; very little care needed.


Use Wildlife: Attracts birds for seed.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees
Provides Nesting Materials/Structure for Native Bees
Supports Conservation Biological Control

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Most easily propagated by seed. Sow unstratified seeds in fall or stratified seeds in spring. Deep roots make it difficult to transplant but young offshoots from parent plant can be removed and planted.
Seed Collection: Seeds can be allowed to dry out before sowing. Collect in September and October.
Seed Treatment: This species requires or benefits from a three month period of cold moist stratification in the refrigerator.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Silphium perfoliatum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Silphium perfoliatum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Silphium perfoliatum


Record Modified: 2023-01-16
Research By: TWC Staff

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