Flower Friday – Compass Plant

A native perennial I’ve loved since the moment I heard about it is the Compass Plant – Silphium laciniatum. I think my attraction was originally to the common name and then its striking height. It grows to about eight feet high in my garden some years, and its large basal leaves are said to point mainly north and south, to catch as much direct sunlight as possible. The leaves take up a lot of space! Although it’s said to have a long taproot, and is hard to transplant (I started mine from seed), I’ve found it to be not extremely drought tolerant. This is a great plant if you’re looking for a striking, architectural perennial, and have at least a square metre (about 10 – 12 square feet) to spare, in full sun, in soil that remains moderately moist to dry – just not too dry!

It’s in the Asteraceae family, and has large daisy-like flowers that come off a tall central stalk. Flowers attract a wide range pollinators, and birds like the seeds in the fall.
This is my main clump, taking pride of place in a badly neglected back garden.
The same clump a few years ago, before a drought knocked it down to brown sticks come mid August.
Seeds don’t seem to distribute themselves, or germinate, very readily. Here’s one of just three self-seeded plants in my yard.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s