Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This is an imposing, but attractive plant when it is in bloom. Cup Plant is easy to distinguish from other Silphium spp., as well as various sunflowers, by the perfoliate leaves that can hold water, and the hairless four-angled stems. Return
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Description

This native perennial plant is about 4-10' tall and remains unbranched, except for the panicle of flowering stems near the apex. The central stem is thick, hairless, and four-sided. The large opposite leaves are up to 8" long and 5" across, which join together around the central stem to form a cup that can hold water, hence the name of the plant. These leaves are broadly lanceolate to cordate, coarsely toothed, and have a rough, sandpapery texture. The yellow composite flowers bloom during early to mid-summer for about 1-1½ months. Each sunflower-like composite flower is about 3-4" across, consisting of numerous yellow disk florets that are surrounded by 18-40 yellow or pale yellow ray florets. The infertile disk florets protrude somewhat from the center and are rather conspicuous, while the ray florets are fertile. The latter produce thin achenes, each with a well-developed marginal wing, which are dispersed to some extent by the wind. The root system consists of a central taproot, and abundant shallow rhizomes that help to spread the plant vegetatively, often forming substantial colonies.
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Description

General: Composite family (Asteraceae). Cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum) is a tall perennial native that grows up to eight feet tall. This species has square stems and leaves that are mostly opposite, egg-shaped, toothed, with cuplike bases that hold water (Kindscher 1987). The flower heads are rich, golden yellow, 2.5 centimeters in diameter, and closely grouped at the tips of the stems (Hunter 1984). The small, tubular disk flowers are in the middle of the flower and is sterile and does not produce fruits (Ladd, 1995).

Distribution: Cup plant ranges from Ontario to South Dakota, south to Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Oklahoma (Steyermark 1963). For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

Carpenter’s weed, cup rosinweed, Silphium perfoliatum L. var. connatum (L.) Cronq. (SIPEC2), Silphium perfoliatum L. var. perfoliatum (SIPEP)

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Cup Plant occurs throughout Illinois, except for a few southern counties (see Distribution Map). It is fairly common. Typical habitats include moist black soil prairies, moist meadows near rivers, low-lying woodland edges and thickets, fens and seeps, lake borders, fence rows, and along ditches near railroads. Faunal Associations
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Adaptation

Silphium perfoliatum occurs on low ground, in moist areas, along prairie streams, alluvial thickets, floodplains, and along the edges of wet woodlands. This species is found throughout the tall grass region, but more sporadic northward (Ladd 1995).

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants caulescent, 75–300 cm; fibrous rooted. Stems square, glabrous, hispid, or scabrous. Leaves: basal caducous; cauline usually opposite, rarely whorled (in 3s), petiolate or sessile; blades deltate, lanceolate, or ovate, 2–41 × 0.5–24 cm, bases attenuate or truncate (distal connate-perfoliate), margins entire, dentate, or bidentate, apices acuminate to acute, faces scabrous to hispid. Phyllaries 25–37 in 2–3 series, outer appressed, apices acute to acuminate, abaxial faces scabrous or hispid. Ray florets 17–35; corollas yellow. Disc florets 85–150 (–200); corollas yellow. Cypselae 8–12 × 5–9 mm; pappi 0.5–1.5 mm.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Cup Plant occurs throughout Illinois, except for a few southern counties (see Distribution Map). It is fairly common. Typical habitats include moist black soil prairies, moist meadows near rivers, low-lying woodland edges and thickets, fens and seeps, lake borders, fence rows, and along ditches near railroads. Faunal Associations
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Dispersal

Establishment

Propagation by Seed: Seeds are best sown as soon as they are ripe in a greenhouse. If the seeds are collected in the fall, they should be stratified for twelve weeks and then sown at 24 to 32ºF for four to eight weeks, and then moved to 68ºF for germination. When the plants are large enough to handle, place them into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Cup Plant in Illinois

Silphium perfoliatum (Cup Plant)
(Bees collect pollen or suck nectar; flies feed on pollen & are non-pollinating, or they suck nectar; other insects suck nectar; a pair of observations are from Moure & Hurd and Krombein et al. as indicated below, otherwise observations are from Robertson)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera sn cp fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus fraternus sn, Bombus griseocallis sn, Bombus impatiens sn cp fq, Bombus pensylvanica sn cp fq, Bombus vagans sn cp fq; Anthophoridae (Ceratinini): Ceratina dupla dupla sn cp fq; Anthophoridae (Epeolini): Triepeolus concavus sn, Triepeolus lunatus concolor sn fq, Triepeolus lunatus lunatus sn, Triepeolus remigata sn fq, Triepeolus simplex sn; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Melissodes agilis sn fq, Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata sn, Melissodes coloradensis sn cp, Melissodes denticulata sn fq, Melissodes rustica sn, Melissodes trinodis sn fq, Melissodes vernoniae sn, Svastra obliqua obliqua sn cp; Megachilidae (Coelioxini): Coelioxys germana sn; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis sn cp, Megachile inimica sayi sn, Megachile mendica sn cp, Megachile petulans sn cp fq, Megachile pugnatus sn cp fq

Bees (short-tongued)
Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea sn cp, Agapostemon splendens sn, Agapostemon virescens sn cp fq, Augochlorella striata sn, Halictus ligatus sn cp, Halictus rubicunda sn, Lasioglossum imitatus cp np fq, Lasioglossum pectoralis cp np, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus cp np fq, Lasioglossum versatus cp np; Halictidae (Nomiinae): Nomia triangulifera (MH); Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena accepta sn fq, Andrena aliciae sn, Andrena helianthi (Kr); Andrenidae (Panurginae): Heterosarus labrosiformis labrosiformis sn fq, Pseudopanurgus rugosus sn

Wasps
Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Ammophila procera; Vespidae: Polistes dorsalis; Scoliidae: Scolia bicincta

Flies
Syrphidae: Allograpta obliqua fp np, Eristalis tenax sn, Milesia virginiensis fp np; Bombyliidae: Exoprosopa fasciata sn, Poecilanthrax alcyon sn, Sparnopolius confusus sn, Systoechus vulgaris fq sn, Villa alternata fp np; Conopidae: Zodion obliquefasciatum sn; Tachinidae: Archytas aterrima sn

Butterflies
Nymphalidae: Chlosyne nycteis, Danaus plexippus, Limenitis archippus, Limenitis arthemis astyanax, Polygonia interrogationis, Vanessa atalanta, Vanessa cardui, Vanessa virginiensis; Lycaenidae: Lycaena hyllus; Pieridae: Colias philodice, Pieris rapae, Pontia protodice; Papilionidae: Battus philenor, Papilio cresphontes, Papilio glaucus, Papilio troilus

Skippers
Hesperiidae: Anatrytone logan, Epargyreus clarus, Pholisora catullus, Poanes zabulon, Polites themistocles

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Silphium perfoliatum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N2 - Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the Plants Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Materials are occasionally available through native plant seed sources and nurseries. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Silphium perfoliatum species should be transplanted when they are young. This species is much easier when transplanted young because it is very difficult to transplant once it is older due to its extensive root system.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, and moist loamy soil. This plant may drop some of its lower leaves in response to a drought. Sometimes, the leaves and buds of distressed plants turn brown, growth becomes stunted, and blossums abort in response to disease or drought. Another problem is that Cup Plant may topple over during a rainstorm with strong winds, particularly while it is blooming, or situated on a slope.
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Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

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Uses

Ethnobotanic: Cup plant’s young leaves were cooked in the spring as an acceptable green (Kindscher 1987). This species was also used as a chewing gum to help prevent vomiting (Runkel & Roosa 1989). The Winnebagos tribe believed that this species has supernatural powers. They would drink a concoction derived from the rhizome to purify them before going on a buffalo hunt. It is used in the treatment of liver and spleen disorders and has also been used to treat morning sickness (Moerman 1998). A decoction of the root has been used as a face wash and to treat paralysis, back and chest pain, and lung hemorrhages (Ibid.).

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