Herbs & Plants

Cup plant

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Botanical Name: Silphium perfoliatum
Family: Asteraceae
Tribe:     Heliantheae
Genus:     Silphium
Species: S. perfoliatum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:     Asterales

Synonyms:Indian Cup Plant. Ragged Cup.

Common Name :  Cup plant, Carpenter’s weed, cup rosinweed, compass plant,pilot wee, squareweed, Indian cup

Habitat:Cup Plant is native to eastern and central North America. It grows in sandy moist bottom lands, floodplains, near stream beds, in or adjacent to open woodland. Currently, it can be found in the following states: USA (AL, AR, CT, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NY, OH, OK, PA, SD, TN, VA, VT, WI, WV), CAN (ON, QC) to see

Cup Plant is an erect herbaceous perennial plant with triangular toothed leaves, and daisy-like yellow composite flower heads in summer.The chief features of the genus are the monaecious radiate heads, the ray florets strap-shaped and pistil bearing, the disc florets tubular and sterile, and the broad flat achenes, surrounded by a wing notched at the summit and usually terminating in two short awn-like teeth which represent the pappus. Its distinctive character is rhizome, cylindrical, crooked, rough, small roots, and transversed section shows large resin cells. Taste, persistent, acrid. The most interesting of the species is the Compass plant, so named from its tendency to point to the North. This plant is also known by the names of Pilot plant, Polar plant, Rosin and Turpentine weed, and like the Cup plant of another species, Silphium Loeve, with tuberous roots, which are a native food in the Columbia valley, is cultivated in English gardens. The Cup plant derives its name from the cup-like appearance of the winged stalks of its opposite leaves which are united.

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The typical height of this plant ranges from 1–2.5 m (3–8 ft). The stem is stout, smooth, slightly hairy (glabrous) strongly 4-angled (square), like mint plants.The leaves are opposite, toothed and ovate. The petioles are widely winged and fused around the stem, forming a cup. The stem terminates in a single flower bud. All other species of Silphium present in Michigan do not have fused leaf bases.

During the 1750s, the species was introduced to the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, and has been prized as an ornamental plant since. It was named in 1759 by Carl Linnaeus. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit.

Edible Uses: During the spring, the tender young leaves were cultivated as an acceptable food source by cooking or a salad.

Medicinal Uses:
Chemical Constituents:Cup plant contains amino acids, carbohydrates (inulinin rhizomes), L-ascorbic acid, terpenes with essential oils, triterpene saponins, carotenoids, phenolic acid, tannins, and flavonoids.

The people of the Chippewas tribe used the root extract for back and chest pains, to prevent excessive menstruation, and to treat lung hemorrhage.The powdered form of Silphium perfoliatum L. has diaphoretic and tonic properties. It can help alleviate the symptoms of fevers, dry cough, asthma, spleen illness, heart and liver disease. The extract from the leaves of the plant has shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels in blood. Studies show that the presence of phenolic acids is responsible for the species’ antiseptic activity to stimulate generation of IgG and IgM antibodies. In addition, it stimulates bile production of the gall bladder.  Roots are used in an oral preparation to increase sweating, to reduce fever, to induce abortion and as an expectorant in the treatment of pulmonary diseases.

Other Uses:
Cup plant is considered to have a high feed value for meat and milk producing farm animals because of its longevity and high protein levels.

The plant produces a resin that has an odor similar to turpentine. The plant contains a gum and resin; the root has been used medicinally. The resin has been made into chewing gum to prevent nausea and vomiting. Native Americans would cut off the top of the plant stalk and collect the resinous sap that was emitted from the plant. The resin was used for a chewing gum to freshen breath. The Winnebagos Tribe believed that a potion made from the rhizome would provide supernatural powers. The people belonging to the tribe would drink this potion before hunting.

The long blossoming season and abundance of flowers provides a rich source for bees and the cultivation of honey.

This species can be targeted by a fungus called Sclerotinia during the summer. During cool temperatures in autumn, the fungus Botrytis will cause the flower buds to wilt and turn black before blooming. Eggs of the Gall wasp are deposited within the stems of this plant. Consequently, the developing larvae feed within the stems. Goldfinches feed on the seeds of Silphium perfoliatum and drink the water collected by the “cups” on the stems. The fact that this species is able to form dense colonies, it provides a good shelter for birds. Herbivores such as cattle and sheep will eat the leaves the plant especially those of young plants.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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