Dominicus Johannes Bergsma, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Magnificent Silphium genus, it displays its bright yellow flowers on tall stems in late summer. Grows easily from seed, and is at home on a wide variety of soils, from moderately dry to moist. Excellent for tough clay soils. Birds love the seeds.
Why it’s name?
Silphium refers to a resin-producing shrub native to Greece. Terebinthinaceum means “turpentine-like,” referring to the odour of the plant. Historically, resin was highly prized for a variety of purposes, including religious incense. Though prairie dock has been used in the past for various ailments, today the plant is considered toxic.
Quick Growing Guide
Botanical Name: Silphium terebinthinaceum
Also Called: Prairie Rosinweed
En français: Silphium
See More Plants in this Botanical Family:
Sun / Shade:
Water: Has a tap root, so it can survice droughts
Where to Plant
In nature, find prairie dock in prairies (who is surprised?) and meadows. It has excellent height for the back of the border, prairies, cottage gardens, wildflower gardens, and native plant gardens. It grows slowly initially but is long-lived and resilient. Choose companion plants based on your garden theme, desired height and colour arrangements. Because it is pollinated by bees, Prairie Dock can also be part of a pollinator garden.
Growing from Seed
In late fall, plant seed 1/4 inch (6mm) deep in a seed bed for overwintering. The seeds will germinate in the spring. You may also plant and overwinter them in pots, but make sure the pots are covered with snow to protect the seeds from harsh winter conditions. When seedlings sprout in the spring, transplant them.
Caring for Prairie Dock
Silphium Terebinthinaceum is a low-maintenance, hardy plant that grows best on ordinary, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. It is a resileint plant, it tolerates poor soils and can withstand droughts because of its deep tap root.