Compass Plant is a native perennial flower that can be found growing in glades and prairies throughout the southeastern United States. At maturity, this plant reaches the height of 4-10' and features a thick hairy stem, 18” deeply divided lower leaves that get smaller as they progress upwards, and 5” yellow sunflower-like flowers with a yellow center. This plant can be grown in a large container, it attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, it's both edible and medicinal, tolerates drought, resists deer, self sows, and is great as a cut flower!
Genus: Silphium L.
Species: Silphium compositum
Cultivar: Compass Plant
Native Range: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Ease of Growing: Moderate.
Grown as: Perennial
Maturity (Blooms): Fall
Light: Full Sun to Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Medium to Dry
Attracts Beneficial Insects?: Yes. Attracts a number of important pollinators, including a variety of native bees and several types of butterfly, including the Monarch butterfly. Locate this towering plant behind shorter wildflowers.
Sow Depth: On soil surface
USDA Zone: 3a-9b
Produces: Towering stalks up to nine feet high bear large yellow flowers with unusual green center cones. The basal leaves align themselves North and South, giving the plant its common name of Compass Plant.
Compass plant is drought-tolerant but benefits from occasional watering, especially during hot weather. Be aware that the compass plant can become top heavy, especially when planted on windy slopes.
Native American uses: The pounded root of compass plant was used by the Pawnees to make a tea for “general debility”. This tea was also used by the Santee Dakotas to rid horses of worms and by the Omahas and Poncas as a horse tonic (Kindscher, 1992). The Indian children of several tribes used the resinous sap as a chewing gum to cleanse their teeth and sweeten their breath. Preparations from compass plant were used by nineteenth century doctors as an antipyretic, diuretic, emetic, expectorant, tonic, styptic, antispasmodic, and stimulant and for their diaphoretic properties (Kindscher, 1992).
Wildlife: Birds and small mammals eat the seeds (Art, 1991). In grasslands, devoid of woody species, the compass plant provides a sturdy perch for prairie songbirds. Eastern kingbirds use the compass plant as a perch to locate and capture grassland insects (Platt and Harder, 1991).
Purple Prairie Clover is a native perennial flower that can be found growing in prairies throughout the United States. Growing to the height of 1-3' tall, this beautiful plant features tiny purple flowers that grow densely on a cone-like head. This cultivar is a gardening powerhouse due to its nitrogen-fixing ability, it attracts bees and butterflies, it provides forage to birds and livestock, it is both edible and medicinal, it tolerates drought, as well as being gorgeous as a cut flower!