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Compass Plant Silphium lacinatum

Add some sky-high beauty to your garden with compass plants. Their yellow sunflower like blooms top 5 to 12 feet tall plants throughout the summer.

Grow the North American native compass plant in full sun with sandy to loamy soils. It is drought tolerant once established and hardy in zones 3 to 9.

Compass plant’s 12 to 24-inch-long dissected leaves resemble oak leaves.  The lower leaves orient themselves along a north-south axis. This minimizes their exposure to intense midday sunlight, reducing moisture loss; an important adaptation for survival in their native prairie habitat.

This leaf orientation inspired the common name and past generations did use the compass plant to help with orientation.

Watch for the variety of native bees, Monarch and sulphur butterflies visiting the flowers as well as birds and small mammals feasting on the seeds.

A bit more information: Break the stem and you will find a fragrant but bitter resin. This was used by native Americans as a chewing gum to cleanse their teeth and freshen their breath.

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