Silphium lacinatum is known by a number of names: pilotweed, gum weed, turpentine plant, and more. Its most popular name, however, is compass plant. Compass plant is a flowering plant native to eastern and central US and can often be found alongside big bluestem.
Like most plants in the Silphium genus, compass plant flowers have vibrant yellow petals that spread out from its center like sunrays. It can vary greatly in height, ranging from 3 to 10 feet. Its leaves are leathery and stiff, standing vertically rather than horizontally.
This is actually where it gets its name from.
To maximize sun exposure, the flat surfaces of the leaves naturally gravitate to the east and the west with the tips of leaves pointing north and south. Early settlers of the Great Plains would feel the leaves of the compass plant to find their way in the dark. The plant also produces a resinous sap that Native Americans once used for chewing gum.
Compass Plant in CRP
With its vibrant flower petals and thick leafy coverage, compass plant is a great addition to pollinator seed mixes. It is known to attract bumblebees, birds, and more. However, it’s arguably most popular among gall wasps who lay their eggs in the stem. This creates a gall where the larvae then live and feed.
Compass plant can also provide a desirable source of nutrition for grazing animals. However, it can disappear if grazed too heavily.
Compass plant typically begins flowering in late June and continues through August. As we mentioned earlier, compass plant features yellow petals, so you’ll want to make sure your CRP mix features two other colors for that bloom period. Compass plant can be planted either stratified in the spring or unstratified in the fall.
If you’re looking to buy high-quality CRP seed mix featuring compass plant, All Native Seed is here for you. We offer our own NRCS-approved mixes that we’ve personally tested and perfected across 360,000 acres of CRP establishment. Additionally, we can provide a quote for seed mixes developed by NRCS.
Either way, you can trust you’re getting some of the purest CRP seed available. All of our seed has been reprocessed for higher germination rates and tested for harmful weeds such as Palmer amaranth. Browse our in-house mixes here or click here to contact us for a quote. Our team of CRP experts is more than happy to answer any questions you might have.