Cup plant

Silphium perfoliatum L.

Family: Asteraceae (aster)

  • Bloom Period:
    • Late,
  • Growth Cycle:
    • Perennial,
  • Growth Habit:
    • Forbs/Herbs,
  • Insect Type Attracted:
    • Natural Enemy,
    • Pollinator,
  • Light:
    • Full,
    • Partial,
  • Region:
    • Northern Lower Peninsula,
    • Southern Lower Peninsula,
    • Upper Peninsula
  • Soil Moisture:
    • Dry,
    • Medium,
  • Height:
    • 3-8ft

Natural enemies attracted

Highly attractive: Chalcidoidea.

Moderately attractive: Orius insidiosus, Cantharidae and Plagiognathus politus.

Mildly attractive: Salticidae, Thomisidae, Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae, Sphecidae, Dolichopodidae and Empididae.

Pollinators attracted

Highly attractive: bees including sweat bees, leafcutter bees, small carpenter bees, digger bees, and bumble bees.

Pests attracted

Moderately attractive: leaf beetles and lygus bugs.

Mildly attractive: Japanese beetles, leafhoppers and thrips.

Plant notes

Large, yellow flowers about 4 inches across form at the top of thick stalks up to 8 ft tall. The plant blooms throughout August. Opposite leaves are fused and form ?cups? that fill with rain and attract wildlife, including frogs and butterflies. Plants established well and bloomed in their second season of growth. This species was the fourth most attractive to natural enemies in the late season, with four times as many natural enemies as in the grass control.


Cup plant grows in full sun to partial sun, from moist to average soil moisture. It occurs naturally in floodplain woods and along river banks.

Cultivation and management

Cup plant can be grown from seed (flowers in third year) or plug material (flowers in second year). Seed heads are attractive to birds. This species may be too weedy for perennial agricultural systems.