Counselor and three kids posing covered in mud

Craft Time: Compass Plant Craft

Compass Plant Craft

The Compass Plant is a small budded yellow flower with many of its friends gathered along a long stem-like a ladder. Its scientific name is Silphium laciniatum but is more commonly known as “Compass Plant” for the belief that the leaves pointed north and south. This may be true most of the time but it is not a reliable way to indicate direction. In our prairie at Cave of the Mounds lives this beautiful plant of pioneers.


Don‘t mistake this sunny looking yellow flower for a sunflower. You can tell the difference by breaking a stem to find a sap or “rosin.” This plant is part of the “rosinweed” family. Also, the seeds grow where the petals were, not in the flat disk at the center of the plant like the sunflower. Like the sunflower, the compass plant grows high in the sky measuring 5-10 feet tall. The flower heads can be 2-5 inches wide. They bloom from July to September. Stems on the compass plant are thick and hairy with flower buds forming opposite each other. The leaves of this plant grow mostly clumped at the bottom near the ground.

You will need: Frozen juice can lid, Yellow tissue paper, Sunflower seeds, Glue, Green construction paper, Tall straight sticks or dowel rods

  1. Carefully glue the sunflower seeds onto the lid of the juice can.
  2. Next, use the yellow tissue paper to create petals and glue to the juice can lid forming the compass flower. 
  3. Add green paper leaves to the stick with glue. 
  4. Finally, glue the flower head to the stick. 
  5. Parade around the room with your compass plants and talk about what a compass tells us and how the compass plant got its name!

Prairie Restoration Project!

The Prairie Demonstration Gardens at Cave of the Mounds is proud to support the ecological restoration of prairies through ecologically friendly land management practices. Little bluestem, sideoats grama, coneflower, and milkweed are common plants in this type of prairie environment.

Photo of Grounds and Gardens with Flowers with a Barn