Silphium laciniatum (Compass plant)


Type: Forb

Area: Prairie

Height: 5′ – 10′

Bloom Months: July, Aug, Sept

Color: Yellow

Sun:  Full Sun

Moisture: Dry, Mesic

Soil:  Clay, Loam, Sand

Attracts/Benefits: Birds, Butterflies, Pollinators

Photo credit: Prairie Moon Nursery and Sharon Yiesla

8 in stock

SKU: 999 Category:


Description from Possibility Place: Compass Plant is a very tall prairie plant that produces a beautiful blooming display. Large yellow flowers, about 4 inches in diameter, occur along nearly the entire length of the central stalk, reaching heights of up to 12 feet.  Blooming occurs mid summer for about a month and a half.  Its dramatic height and abundant blooms make this a good choice for the back of garden beds or along fences or other structures.

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From Prairie Moon Nursery: The name Compass Plant comes from the observation that the leaves have a tendency to orient themselves on a north-south axis.  While this certainly helped disoriented early Settlers find their way, the real reason behind this intriguing physiology is to maximize water use in the leaves as well as to increase CO2 gain for the plant. Another interesting aspect of Compass Plant biology is their life expectancy.  Given the right conditions, individual plants have been known to live upwards of 100 years! Gardening with Compass Plant is gardening for the future.  Sadly, like all other species that live on the prairies, Compass Plants have taken a real hit from habitat destruction.  Prairies are some of the most endangered habitats on the planet. Where there was once seemingly endless prairie, there are now only echoes of a lost world. As the great Aldo Leopold once said, “What a thousand acres of Silphiums looked like when they tickled the bellies of the buffalo is a question never again to be answered, and perhaps not even asked.”


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