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As a comment about Compass Plant (Silphium laciniatum), jmorth wrote:

The deeply cut large basal leaves are commonly oriented in the N - S direction, hence the name. A common Illinois wildflower partial to prairie habitats and along RR right of ways.
Stem leaves are smaller alternate and tend to clasp the stem. Flower heads are up to 4.5" across w/ 20 to 30 petal-like ray flowers around a central yellow disk.
Omaha and Ponca Indians were reluctant to camp near these plants because they thought the plant attracted lightning. They sometimes burned the plant's dried roots during heavy electrical storm manifestation thinking it a charm against lightning strike.
Root thought to alleviate head colds and head pains by some tribes and early settlers. Dried leaves used to treat dry, persistent coughs and intermittent fevers.

Sep 12, 2017 4:08 PM CST
I know Compass Plant has a tap root, but can it safely/easily be dug up and moved to another location? Any advice would be appreciated. Mine isn't thriving where it is - too much shade.
Thank you,
central Illinois
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Plant Identifier
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Sep 13, 2017 1:45 AM CST
I've never grown them but their very size (up to 8' plus) would indicate a probable need for a significantly deep taproot. Moving plants with taproots is iffy, without all of it the plant could easily die. In the database entry it notes 'not for containers' which indicates to me the probability of a large root presence.
An Illinois prairie plant site says the tap root is up to 15 feet long.
Nothing that's been done can ever be changed.

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