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Silphium terebinthinaceum 'Prairie Dock'

Silphium terebinthinaceum 'Prairie Dock'

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Silphium terebinthinaceum, commonly known as Prairie Dock is a native, perennial species of plant that is commonly found in the prairies and savannas of North America. It is characterized by its tall, upright growth habit and its large, yellow composite flowers that resemble daisies. Prairie Dock can grow up to 10 feet tall, making it one of the tallest prairie plants. The leaves of Silphium terebinthinaceum are large, basal, and heart-shaped with a rough, hairy texture and a bright green color. They are arranged alternately along the stem and are un-lobed with a toothed margin. The leaves provide an interesting texture in native landscapes almost 'tropical-like'.

In terms of habitat, Silphium terebinthinaceum is well-adapted to a variety of soil and moisture conditions and can be found in both dry and moist soils. Prairie Dock is known for its resilience and ability to thrive in tough growing conditions, such as drought, poor soil, and exposure to the elements. It can grow in full sun to partial shade. The species is an important food source for wildlife, including pollinators. 

Silphium terebinthinaceum has a strong, turpentine-like scent, which can be quite noticeable when the plant is in bloom. The scent is often used as a key identifier for the species.

The plant was historically used by Native American tribes for medicinal purposes, such as treating colds, coughs, and indigestion. The resin from the plant was used for burning in ceremonial fires and for waterproofing canoes.

Photo Attributions:

Photos 1, 2, & 3: Frank Mayfield from Chicago area, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


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