Anyone ever try Cup Plant?


Well-Known Member

I stopped at Ernst Seed to get another bushel of winter rye and five pounds each of ladino & medium red clover. They always have different, interesting native stands growing around the parking lot. I saw these and was instantly intrigued.


I'm 6'1" and these were well over my head. The large leaves on the stalks were interesting too.


My immediate thought was they were an annual and wouldn't amount to much in the winter. I asked the girl in the office what they were and she said Cup Plant. To my surprise they are a perennial! And can grow to 11 feet!

From Ernst's catalog:

Cup Plant
Silphium perfoliatum

A robust, long-lived, flowering species with a thick stem; large leaves surround the stem. Blooms from July to September. Grows to 11' tall. May be used as forage for domestic animals with multiple cuts; best established by planting in the fall as a dormant seeding, with germination occurring in the spring; high potential as a bioenergy crop; provides food for birds and wildlife; attracts native pollinators.

Forage, screening, attracts pollinators, native & perennial. Very, very interesting. It is a bit expensive but I might have to give it a try.
I was just looking it up on the NRCS website and it is considered a noxious weed in 46 states and classified as invasive. Banned from being planted in Connecticut. Looks like it would make a great screen though.
Here's some more info that yoderjac found and posted over at Habitat Talk:

Currently there is a testing phase for feeding the shredded plants to cattle. Analyses of the clippings of Silphium perfoliatum were made in order to compare material of two harvests with material of only one harvest per year (from a crop field in Bayreuth near Geigenreuth). The results show the following crude protein contents per 100 g dry organic matter (TM):
Two harvests:
1st cut June 13, 2013: crude protein content 11,9 %, TM: 8,9 %
2nd cut August 29, 2013: crude protein content 9,2 %, TM: 13,9 %
one harvest:
harvest August 29, 2013: crude protein content 3,45 %, TM: 27,2 %
According to these analyses Silphium perfoliatum shows high protein contents that seem to make it very suitable for feeding to cattle and dairy cows. The high water content of freshly harvested plants in the version with two harvests can be reduced by a short wilting phase after cutting, thus ensilage is also possible.