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Prairie Dock

Silphium terebinthinaceum

Enormous leaves can be used to shade garden transplants



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Silphium terebinthinaceum, commonly called Prairie Dock, is a native perennial forb (wildlfower) that grows in prairies, glades, fens, railroad right-of-ways, and other exposed habitats in the Midwest and portions of the southern United States. It can be differentiated from other silphiums by its very large leaves. It also blooms later than other silphium spp.

Wildlife notes

The composite flowers attract long-tongued bees primarily, including honeybees, bumblebees, and Miner bees. Other flower visitors include Halictine bees, bee flies, and the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Both the larvae and adults of the Silphium Beetle feed on the flowerheads and stems of this and other Silphium spp. The larvae of Antistrophus rufus and Antistrophus minor feed on the flowering stem of Prairie Dock, forming invisible galls.  Goldfinches eat the seeds and may help to disperse them. Large mammalian herbivores readily eat the foliage and stems of Prairie Dock. However, the coarse sandpapery leaves of mature plants are not attractive to the Cottontail Rabbit, which prefers vegetation that is shorter and more tender.

Forage notes

Livestock readily eat the foliage and stems of Prairie Dock.

Landscaping notes

Good height for the rear of the border. Also excellent for naturalizing in prairies, cottage gardens, rock gardens, wildflower gardens or native plant gardens. This plant prefers full sun, a deep loamy soil, and moist to slightly dry conditions. Rocky or gravelly soil is tolerated. Drought tolerance is very good. Prairie Dock is rather slow to develop, but it is a very reliable, long-lived plant.

Restoration notes

Occurs in glades, upland or rocky prairies, tops of bluffs, savannas, openings of dry upland forests, and rarely banks of streams; also old fields, railroads, and roadsides. Look for it in areas with limestone or dolomite rock. Recovery from occasional wildfires is very good.

Watch videos about this plant:

Silphiums for Wildlife

Grazing Silphiums

Additional information

Weight N/A

Packet, Ounce, Pound


Full Sun

Seeding Rate

14 bulk lbs/acre


Dry, Average



Bloom Month

Aug, Sep



Specialty Uses

Cut Flower

Cattle Palatability


# seeds/pkt


Packet coverage area

5 sq. ft

Life Cycle


What is PLS?

Pure Live Seed (PLS) is the portion of good viable seed per pound. It is a measure of the seed that is alive and able to sprout into plants. This product is sold by PLS ounce/pound. To provide one ounce/pound of viable seed, you will receive more than one ounce/pound of product. Read more about PLS here.