by Maureen Williams

Based on personal experience with the Cup Plant – Silphium perfoliatum, hereafter referred to by its common name  “Cup”

2011 was the year I met Cup; it appeared on a list of plants recommended  by the Native Plant Nursery at  Lemoine Point to feature in our Pollinator Garden  project. The plan was to plant a collection of native and other hardy perennials  that pollinators would love and humans would appreciate enough to consider planting in their own gardens. Thus , the project was named a Demonstration Garden.

The baby cup  (12 inch seedling) was planted  in  September 2011.

A year later  ( 2012) it was the tallest plant in the garden (est. 6 ft.) with a crown of yellow flowers hosting many bees…a Pollinator friendly success story!

As it grew, it formed a tidy clump and really impressed us all. At its finest in 2014.

Alas, the story shifts gears:

  • Stakes and ties to keep it upright in spring
  • Cutting back old stalks at fall clean-up
  • Removal of many cup babies
  • 2018 removal of many more cup babies
  • 2019 decision to remove “mother Cup”, see KHS Volunteer  excavation team in action November 2019.

The moral of the story: In the right place (maybe by a farm gate) Cup is an attractive  pollinator-friendly plant…BUT…it will overpower in most gardens . For that reason, we are no longer recommending it as an addition to your garden.

2020 update. There are a few baby cups still sprouting. If you would like one, contact us at