Herb: Compass Plant

Latin name: Silphium laciniatum

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Compass Plant:

The resin obtained from the plant is diuretic. It imparts a strong aromatic odour to urine. A tea made from the roots is vermifuge and a tonic for general debility. It is used as an expectorant in coughs and other pulmonary ailments. A decoction of the smaller roots has been used as an emetic. A tea made from the leaves is emetic, it has also been used in the treatment of coughs, lung ailments and asthma.

Description of the plant:


2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Prairies and glades. Calcareous or sandy soils and prairies in Texas.

Edible parts of Compass Plant:

A resin exudes naturally from the plant, and can also be obtained by incision. It is an inexpensive substitute for mastic and is used as a chewing gum to sweeten the breath. It forms on the upper part of the flowering stem.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring. This is very difficult due to the deep and extensive root system.

Cultivation of Compass Plant:

Prairies and glades. Calcareous or sandy soils and prairies in Texas.

Known hazards of Silphium laciniatum:

There is a report that the plant might be toxic.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.