Silphium perfoliatum, Cup Plant

Historical Uses:

The Chippewa Nation was reported to take decoctions of roots taken for back and chest pain as well as lung hemorrhaging. Poultices of moistened, dried roots were applied to wounds to stop bleeding. The Ponca Nation was known to include the root in smoke treatments for neuralgia, rheumatism, and head colds. The Iroquois Nation was reported to use decoctions of roots as emetics as well as in face washes to treat paralysis.


S. perfoliatum makes a beautiful addition to any garden or restoration project. They are attractive to bees and butterflies. As the name denotes, the leaves are perfoliate, meaning they attach directly to the stem of the plant. The translation is leaves that are pierced. As a result of this structural formation, the leaves form a cup that holds water. We have seen numerous insects drinking from these pools of water!

  • Listing ID: 3952
  • Duration: Perennial
  • Soil Moisture: 1-5 (dry to wet): 2-3
  • Stratification: 60 days cold moist stratification required
  • Bloom Time: July-August
  • Family: Asteraceae (Aster)
  • Sunlight Exposure: Partial shade to full sun
  • Latin Name: Silphium perfoliatum
  • Common Name: Cup Plant
  • Eco-Region: 251