Cup Plant,  Silphium perfoliatum
Asteraceae or Sunflower Family

Flowers Huge plant, 8 or more feet tall. Leaves large, coarse, roughly egg-shaped, with a few scattered teeth along the margin. Opposite leaves are fused at the base to form a cup which holds water after rain. A terminal cup produces grape-like flower buds that open to large sunflower-like flower heads. Many narrow ray flowers surround a button of greenish brown disc flowers. Spent flowers somewhat resemble artichokes and will develop into clusters of woody seeds that disintegrate in the autumn, spreading the seeds. Blooms in summer.

Technically, cup plant is native to this part of Virginia, however, the individuals in Wildwood are descended from plantings in the Butterfly Meadows and are not native to the Park. They are certainly happy here and form the dominant species in Connelly's Run floodplain near the central bridge, along the Riverway.

There are many yellow, sunflower-like species in Wildwood; however this is the only species with cup-like leaves. The large size is another useful character in identifying it.

More Information

Cup formed by leaves


Early fruit   Mature fruit