Compass Plant

Compass Plant foliage
Compass Plant Leaves
 David Welfelt

Compass Plant
Silphium laciniatum


Family Aster
Longevity Perennial
Height 3 - 8 feet

Bloom Period

March April May June July August September October
  • Description: Upright stems are tall and stiff. Leaves are rough, leathery, deeply lobed and mostly at the base of the plant. Sunflower-like, yellow flowers are produced along the upper part of the stem.
  • Comments: The leaves are sometimes more than 1 foot in length and grow with edges aligned in a north-south direction, hence the common name. Another name, “rosinweed,” refers to the gummy, resinous sap that appears when the stem is injured. When air dried, the sap was chewed as gum by American Indians. Prairie cicadas and Silphium beetles are specialist feeders of Compass Plant. This plant is an important range condition indicator; it is so sought after by cattle that it is rare in grazed pastures. It is locally common in prairie hay meadows and prairie roadsides in the eastern half of Kansas.

Compass Plant
 David Welfelt

Return to The Meadow


The Meadow
Text: Iralee Barnard
Design: Jim Mason