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)



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.