Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Compass Plant
Silphium laciniatum

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Silphium (SIL-phee-um) (Info)
Species: laciniatum (la-sin-ee-AY-tum) (Info)

6 vendors have this plant for sale.

7 members have or want this plant for trade.


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun


Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Equilibrium
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By frostweed
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There are a total of 14 photos.
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4 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Feb 7, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is one of the major native forbs of the Midwestern US prairie or American meadow. I see it in the restorations of prairie in the Midwest. The Lurie Garden that is a large mostly naturalistic garden in Millenium Park in downtown Chicago, Illinois has a number planted around with other natives, though there also are some European plants as Meadow Sage and Russian-Sage. The leaves often orient themselves north-south, hence the name. Good flowers for pollinators and birds seek out the nutritious seeds. Slow growing, long-lived, and can bear up to 100 flowers when a full-grown, old plant, blooming late June to early September.

Positive PrairieDock On Aug 15, 2011, PrairieDock from Jerome, IL wrote:

Collect the seeds early, as birds may get the best of them. May need some staking since flower heads can extend over 10 feet in height. Great vertical addition to garden, it will look like the king of your garden as it reaches its maximum height.

Positive frostweed On May 31, 2007, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Compass Plant Silphium laciniatum is a prairie flower Native to Texas and other States.

Neutral tcfromky On Oct 11, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Compass plant is a long lived, tall, from 5 to 10 feet, erect perennial rising from a large tap root as deep as 15 feet.

There were a number of medicinal uses for this plant, it was used to treat general debility, head colds, pain, induce vomiting and rid horses of worms. The dried root was burned during storms to avoid being struck by lightning. Pioneers and Indians alike chewed the resin as a gum, to clean teeth and freshen breath.

Positive Liatris On Jun 27, 2004, Liatris from Knox City, MO wrote:

This stately and ornamental prairie plant can be an asset for the rural or suburban gardener. I've been growing it for years, starting out with gathered seeds and endangered roadside roots. I like to grow it alongside prairie dock. The two hybridize readily and subsequent self-seeding will provide transplantable seedlings with a variety of leaf shapes ranged from the extreme dissection of compass plant to the broad oval shape of prairie dock leaves. Silphiums need sun and open space. One way to use them is in an isolated bed surrounded by mowed grass, perhaps accompanied by butterfly weed and culver's root.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Astoria, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois
Hanna City, Illinois
Lisle, Illinois
Springfield, Illinois
Iowa City, Iowa
Calvert City, Kentucky
Florence, Mississippi
Cole Camp, Missouri
Glouster, Ohio
Enid, Oklahoma
Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Arlington, Texas
Princeton, Texas
Leesburg, Virginia
Appleton, Wisconsin

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