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Illinois Native Plant Guide - Compass Plant - Pages 138-139

Illinois Native Plant Guide

Compass Plant
Silphium laciniatum

Preferred Water Depth and Inundation Tolerance

Usually a mesic prairie species, which does not tolerate inundation in artificial situations. This is not necessarily true in natural areas, as it is occasionally seen in sedge meadows and wet prairies.

Wildlife Value

Songbirds eat seed. Deer graze on plant. This species attracts butterflies and provides a food source for silphium weevil.


Used for upland slope buffer stabilization.

Availability, Establishment, and Maintenance

  • Propagation is very successful from seed. Because of a tough seed coat, moist, cold stratification at 33-38o F for 10-60 days is beneficial. After stratification, sow seeds at a shallow depth (1/2 inch) in the spring.
  • This is a very slow growing plant above ground. It may only grow one leaf in the first year and may need some protection.
  • Direct seeding has been moderately successful.
  • Deep taproot discourages transplanting, but can be successful if the taproot is not broken.
  • Fall seeding can be very successful.

Compass Plant
Silphium laciniatum

Mature Height
Up to 10 feetCompass Plant

Plant Type
Perennial herb

Indicator Status


Nutrient Load Tolerance

Salt Tolerance
Not available

Siltation Tolerance

Flowering Color and Time
July to September

Light Preference
Full sun

Seeding Rate
.03 - .19 lbs/acre

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