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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday~Cup Plant

Right Plant, Interesting Place

Silphium perfoliatum, also known as Cup Plant, is a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae). It's a native wildflower of Tennessee's tall grass prairie. My little 'prairie' of Black Eyed Susans, liatris, veronicastrums, Joe-Pye Weed, native asters, Butterfly Weeds, friendly exotics and native grasses is punctuated by the cup plant's big statement~ It's well over 7 foot tall and could top out at 10! To me it's the right plant in a most interesting place. It's been here for several years (Cup Plant Pictorial) and is beginning to make a really big show! The above photo shows it growing straight and tall after a summer of intense heat and plenty of sun. It is living up to its tap rooted reputation (The root system consists of a central taproot, and abundant shallow rhizomes that help to spread the plant vegetatively, often forming substantial colonies~ Illinois Wildflowers) and has found purchase in the shallow soil and worked its way through cracks in the limestone bedrock. It's increased in size, but not exponentially! This garden is anything but loamy and moist and the limestone bedrock it's planted amidst ought to keep it in check! I'm sure it will be here for the garden equivalent of forever!

News has come from South Dakota State University that cup plant is under consideration/study as a biomass crop plant! It can store carbon in its massive root system....and yes, the words 'massive root system' do give me pause to wonder, especially since it's tap-rooted in my garden! Interesting news, but I grow it because it increases bio-diversity in my garden. It's a good food source for many kinds of bees, wasps, flies and goldfinches. It provides a safe perch for insects and birds to rest during the heat of the day. The seeds are especially attractive to those same visiting goldfinch later in the season.



I like the cup plant~but, then I am partial to prairie plants and this one with its cheerful daisy like flowers on stout 8 foot tall stems has charmed me. The cup plant gets its common name from the large sandpaper rough leaves that are opposite and fused to form a cup around the square stem. Rain and dew collect in the cups. I've seen wasps, bees and goldfinches stop by for a drink and I've accidentally tipped the water all over myself when weeding nearby.

This plant seems bullet proof~No diseases or pests bother it. The only problem is the wind and then if it's growing on a slope like the one at C&L. Last year (above photo) heavy winds caused it to topple over. So far this year, it's growing straight and tall. Give it room to grow, full sun, average to moist soil and be prepared if you have ideal conditions for its 'unstoppable urge to reproduce'.

Try the cup plant~Remember, it's a big plant and makes a big statement~You could even say the beauty is a beast.


Thanks for stopping by to celebrate Wildflower Wednesday. It's all about sharing wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogasphere. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.

I hope you join the celebration..It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!

Gail

57 comments:

  1. I have cup plant growing in my garden and it makes a wonderful screen because it grows so tall. In fact some years I have to stake it. A wonderful addition to any garden.

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  2. jennifer, So glad you joined the celebration and tell me what do you use to state this big guy! gail

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  3. Dear Gail, your most excellent sales pitch has won me over! The cup plant will join the Karl Foerster grass in the flat bed, I believe they will make a good match. Thanks for setting up a recognition day for the wildflowers, oh queen of the prairie-style. :-)
    xxxooo
    Frances

    ps blogger won't let me comment using open ID today for some reason. My first comment was positively brilliant.

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  4. Good morning Gail, cup plant looks and sounds like a very worthy native for those lucky enough to have full-sun gardens. Glad to see it thriving in your garden!

    Thank you hosting Wildflower Wednesday! Have a wonderful week.

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  5. Gail I think this is one plant I may seriously consider planting in my woodland garden! I have a kitchen window looking out onto the back woods and I think that I'll look for a sunny location and plant it there..that is if I can find the plant here in Canada.
    Love the idea of it attracting goldfinch!
    I'm getting very excited about our move!
    girl in transition..anna

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  6. Hmmmm... might be a bit large for my suburban garden, but an intriguing, useful plant to consider for just the right spot.

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  7. Anna, You ought to be able to find it and from what i've read it will happily grow from seed. I am very excited about your woodland move! gail

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  8. Very neat plant. I remember you turned me on to the tartarians so I might have to get some of this cup plant. The purple and yellow would go well together. That foliage is way cool!

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  9. it really is Tina~and it would make a nice screen and backdrop to several wildflowers~gail

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  10. It is quite good looking and I love that nature provides a vessel for capturing rain. A natural birdbath. The long view is golden and lovely with all the 'susans'.

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  11. Interesting plant! Seems tough as nails.
    Mary

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  12. This is the first time I have participated in WW. I love this theme because a lot of the flowers in my garden ARE wildflowers so I should have done this a long time ago.

    THanks for hosting.

    Rosey

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  13. I love cup plant, and yours looks very happy!

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  14. I think this would be a great addition to my garden in the field. Do you think it would grow in zone 5?

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  15. Very interesting plant you are sharing today. I have joined in your Wildflower Wednesday this week with some black eyed Susans or rudbekia.

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  16. Lovely pictures of the Cup plant. It reminds me of the sunflowers which grows here. The cup made by the leaves is curious.
    Thanks for hosting the meme.

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  17. I think I've seen that growing in fields and on roadsides here. I must look for seeds!

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  18. Hi Gail: This is my first time posting on your meme. I hope it is not my last. I really enjoyed your post on the cup plant. I posted on the same plant last week. It is a wonderful plant in the garden.

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  19. Hi Gail,
    That is an awesome looking plant. I know a family who live on an acreage, and they offered me some cup plant, saying I'd really like it. I haven't taken them up on their offer, because I am worried about it spreading too far. I wonder if it stays pulled if it grows where you don't want it. I think it would look good in the side bed where the rudbeckia 'Herbstonne' is, in the corner between the garden window and back yard fence.

    Sandy, I am in zone 5.

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  20. Thanks for hosting Wildflower Wednesday - your pictures are fantastic of the cup plant too!

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  21. Sandy~it will grow in Canada~especially in a spot that gets a bit of extra moisture...gail

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  22. Good morning Gail! What a giant, this plant! I like the fact that its leaf serves as a miniature drinking cup for the birds.
    Wonderful, cheerful pictures! I love the photo showing a big portion of your garden which is colored in yellow. Pretty!Summer, countryside, sun, vacation - this is what I 'read' when looking at it. Thank you!

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  23. Gail, I first saw this meme last month and marked it on my calendar to participate. I love wildflowers and love learning more about them. Thanks for hosting this, Marguerite

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  24. Okay, so I was early and posted about Wildflower Wednesday last week. So sorry honey.

    I have cup plant. I dearly love it. It's a great plant for almost anywhere sunny. Nice to see you blogging. I know you've been swamped with life. xoxo~~Dee

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  25. Dee, That is a okay! I love that we have so many wildflowers in common and that you enjoy cup plant. I imagine it is fantastic in your garden! gail

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  26. I've read just a little on another blog about this plant and I was fascinated by it especially its size - the photos are wonderful Gail as now I can see the little cup parts in the leaf axils and also see how it looks in the prairie setting at Clay and Limestone.

    It looks fabulous Gail.

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  27. Maybe I will plant a cup plant in our field. I wonder how it would handle occasional mowing? I blogged about elderberry just for today!

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  28. Gail, while taking some photos of other wildflowers for today, I noticed cup plants growing alongside them. I would have featured it today, too, but they're not blooming here yet. I agree it's such an interesting plant! I love the cheery yellow flowers, but I think the cupped leaves are the most fascinating part of this plant. Thanks for all the info...I think these would like my soil, so I would probably think very carefully about planting them just anywhere here:)

    Looks like Wildflower Wednesday is really catching on, Gail--what a great idea!

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  29. I think the cup plant and the giant sunflowers must enjoy their lofty perches, well above our heads! They have such a nice view of the garden from 10 feet up.
    Hey, maybe that taproot will loosen up some of the limestone and improve the soil :-)

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  30. Cheerful, tall and bulletproof - just like some of my favorite people:)

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  31. That is a big plant. Perfect that the leaves collect water. If it does work as a biomass crop, can't you just imagine the acres of them and how pretty that would be?

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  32. I hadn't seen this plant until a couple of years ago, Gail. The Neil Smith Wildlife Refuge and Prairie in south-central Iowa is a humongous restored prairie in the making. They have made and continue to make terrific progress so far. This is where we first saw this plant "in person." I think Mr. Shady should get some for his prairie!! :-)

    Interesting post - thanks for the extra info!

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  33. Love cup plant. Mine could be in a sunnier location but it would be hard moving it! It's also carnivorous in that it absorbs very small insects who try to drink from the water but cant climb back out again. It is a wonderful plant--mine gets NO water except rain.

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  34. Now that tall plant really makes a statement! I like the way it provides Food AND Water for the buzzers and Flutterbugs....

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  35. It has a long tap root you say? That is just what loves it up here (docks for instance!). Love the height!

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  36. I love all the Silphiums, but only on the prairie. They're a bit too big for my garden, both in height and breadth.

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  37. Nice photos Gail, I enjoy the opportunities you give for sharing with others. I hope to add more natives as I learn the area plant species. Of course sunflowers are quite common in Kansas! Enjoyed your recent blog. Thank you, Greggo.

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  38. Great plant! Hey, if it grows, why not think large?

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  39. Beautiful pictures Gail! Cup Plant sounds wonderful.

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  40. Sweetbay, I think it's a perfect plant for your garden~especially where it stays damp! I can save seeds~gail

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  41. Wow, Gail ... that is big and beautiful. Great photos ... and can we talk about your Susans!

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  42. All of that yellow is just breathtaking… I love the pistils and anthers on the head of the flower - so interesting (have never seen anything quite like that before!).

    Thanks for sharing and hosting!!!

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  43. All of that yellow is just breathtaking… I love the pistils and anthers on the head of the flower - so interesting (have never seen anything quite like that before!).

    Thanks for sharing and hosting!!!

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  44. Hi Gail,
    I love the cheeriness of this plant and a great feeder. Your photos are too and I especially love the one with the carpet of Black-eyed-Susans and your house in the background! Pure enchantment! ;>)

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  45. Carol, This plant would be in heaven in your garden and might be a tad aggressive! I'm so glad you liked that photo~most folks think it's the back yard, but it's actually my front garden and porch. gail

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  46. Your garden looks amazing with all the golden blooms. I bet folks in cars stop in the middle of the road to stare.

    The leaf arrangement is certainly interesting on the cup plant. It reminds me a little of the Jerusalem Artichoke which grows wild on my farm.
    Marnie

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  47. I picked one of these up this past May at our local Master Gardeners Plant Sale. It hasn't done very well with the heat & lack of rain we've had so far. Hope it will bounce back come fall. :)

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  48. marnie, They do when they see the Bottle Tree~But hedge really does block the view

    gail

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  49. Racquel, I bet after this winter it will be growing gangbusters for you!

    gail

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  50. I love your photos Gail and was just reading about this plant the other day. Love it. I don't have that many wildflowers in my garden, although I do plant many easy, sustainable-type plants. But maybe someday I'll do a wildflower post!

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  51. Jean, That would be great~it's a wonderful plant~butterflies and bees have been all over it the last few days

    gail

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  52. Hi Gail, Wow! I'd love to try this one. But I'd have to plant it out in the wildflower swath and I think it wants more water than we get. Shoot!

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  54. this is a great go to wildflower. it is so tall but maybe next to sunflowers and cosmos it would blend well.
    hope you are having a wonderful summer. i really enjoyed getting to know you a bit better in buffalo. you are a dear. i really haven't been home since...i am down in florida with my newest grandbaby.
    happy summer.

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  55. Hi Gail,

    I've just started a garden blog and love it! I've seen Wildflower Wednesday on a number of blogs and want to join the group. I'm here in Houston, Texas. I love native plants, tropical plants, and wildlife gardening. Thanks for this great idea and happy summer!
    David at Tropical Texana (Houston):-)

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  56. This plant must also be native in Ohio. I have seen oodles of them as of late. There is a hill covered with them near my home. Lovely they are.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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