July 19, 2008

Gratuitous Domestic Posting (TM) - Outdoor Division

Now here's a little something I thought some of you gardening buffs might be interested to see:


This is a Cup Plant, Silphium perfoliatum, a member of the Aster family. According to this site:

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 1-1 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.

The Cup Plant is native to the Midwest, but according to the USDA has now spread all over the East as well. Connecticut bans it for its invasiveness.

Although mine is just now opening out, you can see that the flower buds grow in clusters:


I think it'll look pretty durn impressive when it's going full steam. (I might have waited until then to do this post, but I happen to be free this afternoon and I couldn't resist.)

Some of you are perhaps shaking your heads and saying, "Tom, what would you want with what amounts to a prairie weed in your garden?" Well, I'll tell you. There are two reasons, one practical and the other sentimental: First, this is a durable perennial which I happen to think interesting, and if it spreads itself a bit it will make an impressive anchor for one of the back corners. (I have a second one in the other end which does not get as much light - it's only about a third of the size of this one and has no buds. I may have to move it.) Second, this plant (then just a foot-long youngling) was given to me last summah by my sister-in-law's husband. He has several growing around his house outside Boston, the original progenitor he claims to have first spotted in a ditch along the roadside and dug up. I've always had a soft spot for this kind of sharing and would readily plant something given to me that I might not otherwise have selected myself.

Posted by Robert at July 19, 2008 02:58 PM | TrackBack

God! I hate to sound like a scold but... Your brother in law found it in a ditch? Maybe it was an invasive plant that he should not propogate!
I understand that there is a whole other layer here; familial ties, etc but, do you really want to propogate a plant that has no value to the indiginous population of your region because your brother in law found it in a ditch or... do you want to do the right thing and grow those plants (in your limited space) that will best assist the environment?
I know, my continued arguments fall on semi deaf ears but - hey Robert- our time here on earth is limited... Plant a stand of care free Monardia or milkweed for the butterflies and hummingbirds. They will thank you with a wonderful display.

Posted by: Babs at July 20, 2008 01:25 AM

Oh and BTW, we live in the same climate zone. Anytime you want to swap plants to make you feel better, just give me a ring. For the past several years I have been working at overcrowding. Some plants I divide and throw onto the compost heap...
I would certainly love to share them with you (or any other reader in the Long Island environs)
You want plants, just hook up with me, I'll give you a boat load of plants.
Too bad you couldn't take advantage of the great tomato give away...I grew 120 tomatoes, most of them are now in the compost heap...
We are still waiting for steve-O to enter in his growing season stats... How does your eggplant grow Steve???

Posted by: Babs at July 20, 2008 01:46 AM

Lawd, Babs, I've got as much butterfly weed in the garden as you could conveniently shake a stick at - and I find monarch caterpillars on it every year.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at July 21, 2008 09:08 AM