Prairie Dock

Silphium terebinthinaceum

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Silphium (SIL-phee-um) (Info)
Species: terebinthinaceum (ter-ee-bin-THIN-uh-see-um) (Info)
View this plant in a garden



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


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)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

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:

Richmond, California

Denver, Colorado

Batavia, Illinois

Champaign, Illinois

Glen Ellyn, Illinois

Hanna City, Illinois

Hinsdale, Illinois

Mapleton, Illinois

Peoria, Illinois

Springfield, Illinois

Waterman, Illinois

New Carlisle, Indiana

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Springfield, Missouri

Appleton, Wisconsin

Westfield, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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

It is a major flowering forb of the Midwestern USA prairie and American meadow. The sunflower-like blooms are good for pollinators and the nutritious seed is loved by birds. Very long-lived perennials. Sold by native plant nurseries, as the large and famous Prairie Nursery in Westfield, WI.


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

Prairie dock is a very attractive plant. The leaves themselves are a delightful novelty, and the yellow flowers attract insects and tower over just about everything. Very tough as well, many seedlings I've neglected with water remain upright and green when everything else wilts/dies. Overall, a fun plant to have, but place it carefully in your garden.


On Oct 4, 2010, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Awesome Prairie native. It is very tough, and deep rooter to 10' perhaps into the ground. Prairie dock cannot be moved once established because of these deep roots. The leaves look like smaller elephant ears.


On Jan 28, 2006, Equilibrium wrote:

I have a few of these. I really like them. Quite impressive heights they can attain in that they tower over other species. A friend of mine who is Native American uses the roots to make a tea which she claims is good for coughs and asthma. I have no idea if she is accurate but she is certainly the epitome of health. I've tasted her tea and it was so so. Nothing to write home about but palatable.


On Jul 19, 2003, Meandy from Tipton, IN (Zone 5a) wrote:

I have three of these in one of my beds though they haven't matured to the point of flowering yet. Hopefully I will see it this year. I am quite impressed with the size of the leaves, they make for an unusual specimen.


On Jul 18, 2003, thelaughingkoi from Mapleton, IL wrote:

Gorgeous, roadside plant in rural Central Illinois. Has large heart shaped, serrate-edged leaves. App. 2" wide daisy-like yellow flowers born at the end of a tall (3'+) stalk. Has anyone cultivated this plant in a garden setting? Any information would be greatly appreciated.