Silphium laciniatum

The name “Silphium” refer to an ancient Greek plant that produces resin.  Resin was once highly sought after for a variety of uses, including as an incense to use in religious ceremonies.  The species name “laciniatum” means “deeply divided,” and refers to the leaves.  It is called “compass plant” because the basal leaves are reputed to align north-to-south.  Studies show that young leaves can actually pivot on their stalks to change direction, but once mature they no longer retain this ability.  This exposes the leaf blades to the maximum amount of sunlight.

Common Name:Compass Plant
Authority: Linnaeus
C Value:5
# of Species in  
Genus in Illinois:
Flower Type:Perfect
Growth Habit:Forb
Leaf Arrangement:Alternate, Basal
Leaf Type:Simple
Leaf Margin:Lobed
Leaf Toothing:highly dissected
Flower Color:Yellow
Habitat:Prairies and roadsides
Status (State):Not Listed
Status (Federal):Not Listed
ID Tips:large leaves and very tall flower stalk
Gee Whiz:The leaves are supposedly oriented toward the sun.