The genus Silphium

The Tucker mini-prairie, located just to the south of the Tucker greenhouse is home to lots of members of the Asteraceae family.  This family, also known as the sunflower or daisy family is one of the largest plant families on the planet, next to the Orchid family.

Right now there are lots of yellow flowers blooming in the mini-prairie and lots of these belong to the sunflower family.  Some members of the Asteraceae family that are blooming right now are Ashy sunflowers, or Helianthus mollis, Gray-headed coneflowers, or Ratibida pinnata and two members of the genus, Silphium.  We also have Mullein, or Verbascum thapsus found in the Scrophulariaceae family.

In this post though, I plan to briefly discuss the two members of the genus Silphium.  They are the Compass plant, or Silphium laciniatum and the Cup plant, or Silphium perfoliatum.

The Compass plant is so named because their very oddly-shaped leaves actually orient themselves with the flat portion of their leaf blades facing east-west.  Check out


The Cup plant is so named because its odd leaves attached to the stem opposite from each other and form a cup that can hold rain water.


Read more about the Cup plant here