Prairie Plant Profile – Cup Plant

In native prairies few plants compare to the versitality and beauty of the Cup Plant or Cupplant (Silphium perfoliatum). This yellow-flowered plant grows to three to ten feet tall and provides a wonderful resource for birds. The Cupplant provides shelter, food, and the “cups” actually catch and store rainwater that birds can drink from.

Cupplant behind Compassplant, another great prairie plant
Cupplant Behind Compassplant

Last summer we spotted numerous American Goldfinches feasting on the Cupplant seeds and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird sipping water from the cups. Various ground-feeding birds such as sparrows used the foliage of the Cupplant for cover when our resident Cooper’s Hawk would prowl the yard.

While not a prairie, this group of Cupplants at our Callaway Nature Preserve provides an attractive place for a variety of birds and butterflies

We have a wide variety of prairie plants throughout our 1/4 acre nature preserve as a way to showcase their beauty. By no means do they provide a viable area for birds to breed, but during migration are an excellent refueling stop. But we have been delighted to find them at area nature preserves in restored prairie areas where they should be.

Cupplants are hardy to zone 4 and have worked well in our northern Illinois location. For more information and to order some for spring planting, check out Prairie Nursery located in Wisconsin.

2 thoughts on “Prairie Plant Profile – Cup Plant

  1. Larry – natives are the best!! We had some terrible weather last year in late summer so we need to make up this year with some missed gardening opportunities.

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