Cup Plant

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Cup Plant

Botanical Name: Silphium perfoliatum
Family: N.O. Compositae

Synonyms: Indian Cup Plant. Ragged Cup.
Part Used: Root.
Habitat: Western States of America, Oregon, Texas.

Description: The chief features of the genus are the monaecious radiate heads, the ray florets strap-shaped and pistil bearing, the disc florets tubular and sterile, and the broad flat achenes, surrounded by a wing notched at the summit and usually terminating in two short awn-like teeth which represent the pappus. Its distinctive character is rhizome, cylindrical, crooked, rough, small roots, and transversed section shows large resin cells. Taste, persistent, acrid. The most interesting of the species is the Compass plant, so named from its tendency to point to the North. This plant is also known by the names of Pilot plant, Polar plant, Rosin and Turpentine weed, and like the Cup plant of another species, Silphium Loeve, with tuberous roots, which are a native food in the Columbia valley, is cultivated in English gardens. The Cup plant derives its name from the cup-like appearance of the winged stalks of its opposite leaves which are united.

Medicinal Action and Uses: Tonic, diaphoretic, alterative. Found useful in liver and spleen maladies, also in fevers, internal bruises, debility, ulcers, and a general alterative restorative. Gum is a stimulant and antispasmodic.

Dose: 4 oz. of powdered root in decoction. Powder itself in 20-grain doses.

Other Species:
S. Ginniferum or Rosin weed is said to bestimulating and antispasmodic, and yields resinous secretions like mastic; this resin is diuretic and imparts to the urine an aromatic odour. Its root is a good expectorant in pulmonary and catarrhal diseases and the Compass plant is said to be emetic.