Silphium perfoliatum L.
Cup Plant, Indian Cup
Asteraceae (Aster Family)
USDA Symbol: sipe2
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
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
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 InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: 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
Native Distribution: S. Ont. to NC, w. to e. Great Plains
Native Habitat: Moist woods; prairies; low ground
Growing ConditionsLight 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.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Attracts birds for seed.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
Value to Beneficial InsectsSpecial 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.
PropagationDescription: 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
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording 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
BibliographyBibref 928 - 100 easy-to-grow native plants for Canadian gardens (2005) Johnson, L.; A. Leyerle
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 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 resourcesUSDA: Find Silphium perfoliatum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Silphium perfoliatum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Silphium perfoliatum
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-01-16
Research By: TWC Staff