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Cup Plants in a ditch along a rural northeast Iowa road. USA
Image taken “As Is” using my Canon PowerShot SX30 IS.

Cup Plant
Silphium perfoliatum
Aster family (Asteraceae)

Description: This native perennial plant is about 4-10’ tall and remains unbranched, except for the panicle of flowering stems near the apex. The central stem is thick, hairless, and four-sided. The large opposite leaves are up to 8" long and 5" across, which join together around the central stem to form a cup that can hold water, hence the name of the plant. These leaves are broadly lanceolate to cordate, coarsely toothed, and have a rough, sandpapery texture. The yellow composite flowers bloom during early to mid-summer for about 1-1½ months. Each sunflower-like composite flower is about 3-4" across, consisting of numerous yellow disk florets that are surrounded by 18-40 yellow or pale yellow ray florets. The infertile disk florets protrude somewhat from the center and are rather conspicuous, while the ray florets are fertile. The latter produce thin achenes, each with a well-developed marginal wing, which are dispersed to some extent by the wind. The root system consists of a central taproot, and abundant shallow rhizomes that help to spread the plant vegetatively, often forming substantial colonies.

Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sun, and moist loamy soil. This plant may drop some of its lower leaves in response to a drought. Sometimes, the leaves and buds of distressed plants turn brown, growth becomes stunted, and blossums abort in response to disease or drought. Another problem is that Cup Plant may topple over during a rainstorm with strong winds, particularly while it is blooming, or situated on a slope.

Range & Habitat: It is fairly common. Typical habitats include moist black soil prairies, moist meadows near rivers, low-lying woodland edges and thickets, fens and seeps, lake borders, fence rows, and along ditches near railroads.

Hello! I am a wife, mother, worship leader and piano teacher. Photography is a new passion of mine. I also enjoy singing, playing the piano & flute, bicycling and the theatre! Thank you for all your kindness and support here. God bless you!

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  • missmoneypenny
    missmoneypennyover 1 year ago


  • Thanks, Chris!!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • Elfriede Fulda
    Elfriede Fuldaover 1 year ago

    this is just so beautiful, Lori

  • Thank you so much, Elfie!!

    – lorilee

  • Rick  Friedle
    Rick Friedleover 1 year ago

    Beautiful capture!

  • Thank you, Rick!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • barnsis
    barnsisover 1 year ago

    Gorgeous, excellent focus and bokeh, Great work

  • Thanks, Byron & Julie!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • Tina Hailey
    Tina Haileyover 1 year ago

    beautiful capture

  • Thank you so much, Tina!!

    – lorilee

  • maggie326
    maggie326over 1 year ago


  • Thank you, Maggie!!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • JohnDSmith
    JohnDSmithover 1 year ago

    So very beautiful.

  • Thanks, John!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • kalaryder
    kalaryderover 1 year ago

    Wonderful shot

  • Thank you so much, Kala!!

    – lorilee

  • kalaryder
    kalaryderover 1 year ago


  • Awesome!! Thank you, Kala!! :o)

    – lorilee

  • MotherNature
    MotherNatureover 1 year ago

    Absolutely lovely – like bursts of sunshine! Congratulations on your feature in Wildflowers of the World – FAVE!

  • Thanks, Carol!! You’re very kind!! :o)

    – lorilee

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