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Old 06-24-2010, 10:14 AM   #1
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Default Big weed

I've got a new plant in an area that I try to maintain (about an acre) for native plants and birds. This plant is LARGE. It has a square(ish) stem. The leaves are huge. The plant grows singlely or in small groups. It can reach at least 4' high, as it is so now. Mid-Michigan area. Here's a shot. What is it?
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Old 06-24-2010, 10:45 AM   #2
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It's Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum.
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Old 06-24-2010, 11:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishlkmich View Post
I've got a new plant in an area that I try to maintain (about an acre) for native plants and birds. This plant is LARGE. It has a square(ish) stem. The leaves are huge. The plant grows singlely or in small groups. It can reach at least 4' high, as it is so now. Mid-Michigan area. Here's a shot. What is it?
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Originally Posted by Prairiefreak View Post
It's Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum.
Lucky you, fishlkmich, you end up with a native 'weed'! All too often it seems the strange plant needing ID is so often a non-native, or worse, invasive weed. Good for you!
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Old 06-24-2010, 02:09 PM   #4
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Thanks! I knew that I could find the answer here.

While this plant is native to Michigan, it is invasive in the space I have. Now that I know that it is native I will keep it in check, yet allow a couple of drifts to become established. It will easily crowd out any competitors. I'm looking forward to seeing the flowers and the medicinal properties of the plant are interesting. I see that the sap was used by indians as a chewing gum that freshened breath. I think that I'll let my buddy try that.
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Old 06-24-2010, 02:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by fishlkmich View Post
Thanks! I knew that I could find the answer here.

While this plant is native to Michigan, it is invasive in the space I have. Now that I know that it is native I will keep it in check, yet allow a couple of drifts to become established. It will easily crowd out any competitors. I'm looking forward to seeing the flowers and the medicinal properties of the plant are interesting. I see that the sap was used by indians as a chewing gum that freshened breath. I think that I'll let my buddy try that.
I've never grown it, so I didn't realize it could be aggressive...I'm glad you decided to keep a couple of drifts of it--drifts look so natural...I guess 'cause they are!

~smile~ LOL!
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Old 06-06-2011, 11:31 AM   #6
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In Aldo Leopold's SAND COUNTY ALMANAC, he writes of a cup plant that was caught in point of a triagular cemetery that the lawn mowers could not reach. He speculated that it could at the time have been the last specimen in Wisconsin. He speaks always of the species with love and affection. Alas, it was not too long when the workers tore down the fence that had formed the triangle and mowed the cup plant down.

Leopold estimated that it had been there since the mid 19th century, and that it was one of the last remnants of life there before the settlers changed the landscape.

It makes for interesting reading, and I believe anyone who reads it will never again extirpate Silphium perfoliatum.

I have two specimens that I planted late last year. I never got to see it flower, but the way they are coming up this year promises many flowers. They're already four feet high, and this has been a late Spring here.
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Old 06-06-2011, 12:40 PM   #7
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Default Attempting to transplant a Silphium by Aldo Leopold

Quoting from "A Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold:

"Silphium first became a personality to me when I tried to dig one up to move to my farm. It was like digging an oak sapling. After half an hour of hot grimy labor the root was still enlarging, like a great vertical sweet-potato. As far as I know that Silphium root went clear through to bedrock. I got no Silphium, but I learned by what elaborate undergrouhnd strategems it contrives to weather the prairie droughts."
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:52 AM   #8
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Thanks Jack!

I think that I'll dig up a couple of small ones this year and bring them home. I have a perfect spot for them. It hadn't occurred to me that a few could be relocated and now I know to go after the little ones!

Mark
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