Cup plant – Silphium perfoliatum

Just when you think you know “everything” about a plant that you think makes it useful, a plant will completely surprise you. This is really true when it comes to the cup plant. This plant is unique in the way its leaves form “cups” that hold water where they connect with its thick square stem.

When planted in a thick row and well watered, this towering plant can reach superhuman heights of 8 feet and provide great pollen fodder for foraging bees.

This plant also attracts a species of red aphid (Macrosiphum spp.) that also has attracted several aphid predators and parasitic wasps. In fact, even though the aphids colonized nearly the entire underneath of the plant leaves, lacewing and syrphid fly maggots and parasitic wasps were able to control them naturally.

One other recent use of this plant we’ve found is the thick square stem can be hollowed out to create orchard mason bee nests.

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