This native perennial plant in the aster family is found in most parts of the eastern United States. Reaching heights of up to 8 feet, its bright yellow and joyful flowers are a welcome addition to gardens and provide color from early summer through the fall. Cup Plant is an important drought tolerant addition to any pollinator garden.
The genus name, Silphium, is from the Greek word silphion, which was a plant of North Africa said to have a resinous juice that was medicinal. Cup plant appeared on ancient Greek coins of the city of Cyrene. The species name, perfoliatum, means 'with the leaf surrounding or embracing the stem' as Its leaves create a cup like basin that holds water. This is a welcome water station for the many bees and other beneficial insects that are drawn to this plant to take a water break.
Cup plant is also believed to hold various medicinal virtues. The Winnebagos tribe also believed that cup plant had supernatural powers. They would drink a concoction derived from the rhizome to purify themselves before going on a buffalo hunt. Cup Plant was traditionally worked with as a green food source and used in the treatment of liver and spleen disorders.
Flower Pic Credit: Erin O'Hara