This week’s featured plant is for Joe Boggs (and Rita Heikenfeld who just discovered this native plant) and its one of Joe’s favorites. Its Silphium laciniatum, or commonly known as ‘Compass Plant’. A member of the daisy family, this native is seen along roadsides and non-maintained areas, as well as those planted with native grasses and other wild flowers to recreate a prairie planting. A great example of this locally is on Mason-Montgomery Road and all around the P&G Research facility. And it’s easily recognized between mid-June and September as the flower stems reach as high as 8’, with the resin sticky stalks covered with 3-5 inch wide yellow petals of daisy or small sunflower like flowers. Its leaves are deeply cut and reach out 6-8 inches long. And here is where it gets its name; the basal leaves align themselves in a north-south orientation, which was once used by the pioneers to find their way across the prairies. The flower stalks were so tall, some scouts used to tie flags on them to mark their trails for the followers. It’s also said that pioneers would actually chew the resin like gum to cleanse their mouth and teeth and freshen their breath. Not sure I’d try it! And yes, you can grow it in your perennial garden. This one’s for you, Joe Boggs!
A small sprawling shrub that can fill up an area over time. Bright yellow flowers. Attractive toothed leaves. Green stems.