Audubon® Compass Plant
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A big, bold, bountiful beauty for butterflies, bees, and birds! Compass Plant is a towering, Sunflower-like Spirit that will cause a stir in your wildlife-friendly beds and borders. Monarchs and swallowtail butterflies will visit the cheery yellow Daisy-like flowers in midsummer, when they open on their tall stalks. So will bumblebees, miner bees, leaf-cutting bees, and many other buzzing things looking for sustenance. Eastern Kingbirds have been known to perch on the stems, on the lookout for insects to eat, and Goldfinches come by in fall and winter to gather the seeds that have formed. Magnificent!
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-8
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Recommended by Our Growers
Compass Plant gets its name from a curious habit it has of orienting its leaves in a north-south direction. On the treeless tallgrass prairies of our nation’s midsection, where this plant is native, sunlight is intense—too intense, in some cases, for plants to photosynthesize efficiently. Therefore, Compass Plant moves its large, scratchy leaves so that the sun hits them at the optimal angle. This plant is also remarkable in its longevity. It can survive for 100 years, due largely to its immense taproot, which can descend as deep as 10 or 15 feet in loamy soil.
Another name for Compass Plant is Rosin Weed, for the sticky substance found inside the stems. Native American kids used to scrape off this rosin and use it as chewing gum. You can try it, too—just don’t expect it to taste like Juicy Fruit! (It tastes more like Pine Tree.)
How to Grow
Compass Plant prefers deep, loamy soil that never gets extremely wet or extremely dry. It wants full sun. In excessively windy or wet years, this lofty grower may lean or even lodge (topple over). You can stake it if you feel a need to, but be sure to use very sturdy poles, as the stems become quite weighty on mature plants. (Maturity may take several years; Compass Plant is a slow grower that spends some time putting down a deep taproot.) Maintenance is otherwise simple. Leave the seeds for winter-resident birds, then cut the whole plant down in early spring.
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