Submitted Successfully!
To reward your contribution, here is a gift for you: A free trial for our video production service.
Thank you for your contribution! You can also upload a video entry or images related to this topic.
Version Summary Created by Modification Content Size Created at Operation
1 Silphium species can be used for various industrial applications + 1082 word(s) 1082 2020-05-14 12:24:37 |
2 format correct -17 word(s) 1065 2020-11-02 02:52:35 |

Video Upload Options

Do you have a full video?


Are you sure to Delete?
If you have any further questions, please contact Encyclopedia Editorial Office.
Kowalska, G.; Pankiewicz, U.; Kowalski, R. Silphium. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 15 April 2024).
Kowalska G, Pankiewicz U, Kowalski R. Silphium. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 15, 2024.
Kowalska, Grażyna, Urszula Pankiewicz, Radosław Kowalski. "Silphium" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 15, 2024).
Kowalska, G., Pankiewicz, U., & Kowalski, R. (2020, May 18). Silphium. In Encyclopedia.
Kowalska, Grażyna, et al. "Silphium." Encyclopedia. Web. 18 May, 2020.

The chemical composition of three Silphium species in the aspect of the possibility of their use for various purposes has been evaluated. The plant material of three Silphium species (S. perfoliatumS. trifoliatum and S. integrifolium) was acquired from cultivation located in eastern Poland. The vegetative propagating material consisted of seeds and rhizomes. Content of protein (up to 22.9% in leaves of S. perfoliatum), amino acids (aspartic acid—up to 12.0%, glutamic acid—up to 9.5%, and leucine—up to 9.4%), fat (up to 4.2% in inflorescences of S. perfoliatum), cellulose (up to 42.9% in stems of S. trifoliatum), water-soluble sugars (up to 26.7% in rhizomes of S. perfoliatum) and mineral substances (ash up to 20.9% in stems of S. integrifolium, with significant levels of elements such as K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Mn) in the tested Silphium species can be an important criterion determining a positive evaluation of these plants as sources of alternative raw materials. The conducted research is meant to draw attention to the possibility of use of the biomass of three Silphium species as a potential source of ecological and renewable raw material for food, pharmaceuticals, feed and possibly also for energy generation purposes.

Silphium L. Silphium perfoliatum L. Silphium trifoliatum L. Silphium integrifolium Michx. chemical composition alternative plants

1. Introduction

At present, one can observe a trend for the search for plants that can provide, e.g., food products with specific health-promoting properties, raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry, and renewable sources of energy. In addition, research on new crop plants is related to the protection of the natural environment, i.e., organic agriculture, biological reclamation of soils, and counteracting the greenhouse effect. These trends have caused an increase in the interest in new plant species both on the part of farmers and of the users of plant raw materials.

Silphium L. (Asteraceae), commonly known as resinweed, is found in central and eastern United States and Canada. According to Stuessy [1], the genus includes 23 species; other authors estimate that it consists of 13–33 species [2][3][4][5]. These differences in classification are caused by polymorphism in the genus. Silphium was brought to Europe from North America in the 18th century for its ornamental value. Best known are the following species: S. perfoliatum L., S. integrifolium Michx., and S. laciniatum L. The latter was well known to trappers crossing North America and was used as the so-called “compass plant”, its leaves indicating the north-south direction [6]. Various North American Indian tribes applied Silphium for medical purposes. Ojibwe (Chippewa) Indians prescribed: root extract when treating rheumatic diseases (lumbago and different pains with a rheumatic basis); broth made of roots for treatment of pulmonary diseases (lung haemorrhage) and as an analgesic at abortion; were also applied in the case of stomach disturbances and heavy haemorrhage [7][8]. Indians of the Fox tribe used napery from S. perfoliatum roots to reduce abundant menorrhea, as an anti-emetic during pregnancy and as an agent protecting against preterm birth [8] and recommended the use of S. integrifolium rhizomes to treat kidney diseases and as an analgesic agent, and used brew from leaves to treat urinary bladder disturbances [8]. Iroquois Indians recommended broth from Silphium roots as an emetic and as an additive to a bath in cases of paralysis. Moreover, roots were used for rituals [9]. Indians from the tribes of Winnebago, Ponca and Omaha applied inhalation of smoke from burning roots and other parts of rosinweed in head colds, neuralgias and rheumatic pain treatments; moreover, the Winnebago tribe used root broth as an emetic [10][11][12]. In American herbal medicine, these plants were used as refreshing, sudorific, diuretic and expectorant agents during persistent dry cough and asthma and for treatment of liver and spleen diseases, gastric ulcers and internal injuries [13][14]. Hoppe, [15] and PDR for Herbal Medicines, [16] state that the roots of S. laciniatum and S. perfoliatum have homeopathic applications—they are used for the treatment of digestive disorders. So far, only S. perfoliatum L. has been studied as a medical, melliferous, fodder, and recultivation plant. The literature reports that S. perfoliatum is characterised by a high production potential in terms of yields, and contains significant levels of nutrients, i.e., carbohydrates, proteins, L-ascorbic acid, and mineral constituents [17][18][19] and biologically active substances, i.e., terpenoids and essential oil [20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27], flavonoids [3][28], phenolic acids [29][30][31], and oleanosides [28][32][33]. In addition, studies have been conducted on the utility features (usefulness for bees, animal feed) and in the range of antimicrobial activity [34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41]. In recent years anatomical-morphological studies were conducted, as well as studies on yield efficiency and on the content of biologically active substances, for three species from the genus Silphium: S. perfoliatum, S. trifoliatum, and S.integrifolium[42][43][44][45][46].

Figure 1. Silphium plants: P-S. perfoliatum (P1, P5—three-year-old plants, P2—shoots , P3, P4—inflorescences) T-S. trifoliatum (T1—shoots), I-S. integrifolim (I1—three-year-old plants, I2—inflorescences, I3—shoots).

2. Discussion

There is an interesting study on the chemical composition of seeds of three Silphium species in the aspect of their use for consumption purposes [47]. High yields of green matter also determine the potential use of plants. According to a three-year study by Daniel and Rompf [18], DM yield of S. perfoliatum fell within the range from approximately 19.2 t·ha−1 (for plants harvested in the stage before the formation of flower buds and at plant height of 144 cm) to about 29.3 t·ha−1 (for plants harvested at the flowering stage, at plant height of 248 cm). The average yields of DM for plants of S. perfoliatumS. trifoliatum, and S. integrifolium were as follows: approx. 2.9, 2.4, and 2.2 t·ha−1 for plants harvested in the stage of spring regrowth, approx. 12.5, 10.7, and 9.9 t·ha−1 for plants in the flower bud stage, and approx. 36.6, 28.8, and 17.8 t·ha−1 for plants harvested at the beginning of the blooming stage, respectively [42][44][46]. However, the literature still does not provide reports on detailed research concerning the characterisation of S. trifoliatum and S. integrifolium in the aspect of the estimation of their content of nutrients and minerals, which was the stimulus for undertaking the research in this area. 

Summarising the results on the variation of the composition of primary metabolites and minerals in the course of ontogenesis of perennial plants of Silphium, one can conclude that biomass with the highest content of protein, water-soluble carbohydrates, fats, and L-ascorbic acid, can be acquired from plants harvested at an early stage of development. However, as yields obtained in that plant development stage are not economically viable, the optimum harvest time can be the period between the appearance of flower buds and the start of the blooming stage. Any later time of green matter harvest involves the risk of a significant reduction of its feed and nutritional values.[47]


  1. Stuessy, T.F. . Heliantheae-systematic review; Heywood, V.H.; Turner, B.L.; Harborne, J.B., Eds.; Academic Press: London, 1977; pp. 621-672.
  2. Puia, I.; Szabó, A.T. Culture experimentale d’ une nouvelle espece fourrag—Silphium perfoliatum L.—dans le Jardin Agrobotanique de Cluj-Napoca. Institutum Agronomicum “Dr. Petru Groza”, Cluj-Napoca (Romania). Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici 1985, 15: 15–20.
  3. Davidyants, E.S.; Abubakirov, N.K. Chimičeskij sostav i perspektivy ispol’zowaniya rasteniy r. Silphium L. Rastit. Resur. 1992, 28, 118–128. [Google Scholar]
  4. Huxley, A. . Dictionary of Gardening; Stockton Press: New York, 1992; pp. -.
  5. Clevinger, J.A.; Panero, J.L. Phylogenetic analysis of Silphium and subtribe Engelmanninae(Asteraceae: Heliantheae) based on ITS and ETS sequence data. Amer. J. Bot. 2000, 87(4), 565–572.
  6. Steyermark, J.A. . Flora of Missouri; The Iowa State University Press: Iowa, 1962; pp. -.
  7. Frances Densmore; Uses of plants by the Chippewa Indians /. Uses of plants by the Chippewa Indians / 1928, null, , 10.5962/bhl.title.79349.
  8. Smith, H.H. Etnobotany of the Ojibwe Indians. Bull. Publ. Mus. Milwaukee 1932, 4: 365.
  9. Herrick, J.W. . Iroquois medical botany. PhD Thesis; State University of New York: Albany, NY, 1977; pp. -.
  10. Gilmore, M.R. A study in the ethnobotany of the Omaha Indians. Nebrasca State Hist. Soc. Coll. 1913, 17, 314–357.
  11. Gilmore, M.R.; Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region. . SI-BAE Ann. Rep. 1919, 33, 132.
  12. Mohagheghzadeh, A., Faridi, P, Shams-Ardakani, M., Ghasemi, Y. Medicinal smokes. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2006, 108(2), 161–184.
  13. Morris, L.J. Silphium laciniatum, Lin., Rosin Weed. Am. J. Pharm. 1881, 53, 487–491.
  14. Grieve, M.. A Modern Herbal; Penguin: London, UK,, 1984; pp. -.
  15. Heinz A. Hoppe; Drogenkunde. Drogenkunde 1958, null, , 10.1515/9783111643809.
  16. Gruenwald, J. . PDR for Herbal Medicines; Medical Economics Co.: Montvale, NJ, 2000; pp. -.
  17. Duranti, E.; Santilocchi, R.; Casoli, C. Composizione chimica e valore nutritivo di Silphium perfoliatum L. conservato mediante insilamento. Zootec. Nutr. Anim. 1988, 14, 349–356. [Google Scholar]
  18. Daniel, P.; Rompf, R. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen der Nutzung der Durchwachsenen Silphie (Silphium perfoliatum L.) als Futter-, nachwachsenole Rohstoff- und Landschaftspflegepflanze. Agribiol. Res. 1994, 47, 345–353. [Google Scholar]
  19. Ferdinand Bohlmann; Jasmin Jakupovic; Neue labdan-derivate und sesquiterpene aus Silphium-arten. Phytochemistry 1979, 18, 1987-1992, 10.1016/s0031-9422(00)82717-x.
  20. Ferdinand Bohlmann; Jasmin Jakupovic; Neue Sesquiterpen-Kohlenwasserstoffe mit anomalen Kohlenstoffgerüst aus Silphium-arten. Phytochemistry 1980, 19, 259-265, 10.1016/s0031-9422(00)81970-6.
  21. Radosław Kowalski; The Chemical Composition of Essential Oils and Lipophilic Extracts of Silphium integrifolium Michx. and Silphium trifoliatum L. Rhizomes. Journal of Essential Oil Research 2008, 20, 255-259, 10.1080/10412905.2008.9700005.
  22. Radosław Kowalski; Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and extracts of rosinweed (Silphium trifoliatumandSilphium integrifolium) plants used by the American Indians. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 2008, 23, 426-433, 10.1002/ffj.1901.
  23. R. Kowalski; T. Wolski; The chemical composition of essential oils ofSilphium perfoliatum L.. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 2005, 20, 306-310, 10.1002/ffj.1418.
  24. Radosław Kowalski; Analysis of lipophilic fraction from leaves, inflorescences and rhizomes of Silphium perfoliatum L.. Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae 2011, 74, 5-10, 10.5586/asbp.2005.001.
  25. Radosław Kowalski; Tomasz Baj; Grażyna Kowalska; Urszula Pankiewicz; Estimation of Potential Availability of Essential Oil in Some Brands of Herbal Teas and Herbal Dietary Supplements. PLOS ONE 2015, 10, e0130714, 10.1371/journal.pone.0130714.
  26. Wolski, T.; Kowalski, R.; Mardarowicz, M. Chromatographic analysis of essential oil occuring in inflorescences, leaves and rhizomes of Silphium perfoliatum L. Herba Pol. 2000, 46, 235–242. [Google Scholar]
  27. Kowalski, R. Selected secondary metabolites in leaves, inflorescences, and rhizomes of Silphium perfoliatum L.—Alternative herbal plant. Folia Hortic. 2003, 15, 203–209. [Google Scholar]
  28. El-Sayed, N.H.; Wojcińska, M.; Drost-Karbowska, K.; Matławska, I.; Williams, J.; Mabry, T.J.; Kaempferol triosides from Silphium perfoliatum. Phytochemistry 2002, 60, 835-838.
  29. Radoslaw Kowalski; Tadeusz Wolski; TLC and HPLC analysis of the phenolic acids inSilphium perfoliatumL. Leaves, inflorescences and rhizomes. JPC – Journal of Planar Chromatography – Modern TLC 2003, 16, 230-236, 10.1556/jpc.16.2003.3.12.
  30. Kowalski, R.; Wolski, T. Evaluation of phenolic acid content in Silphium perfoliatum L. leaves, inflorescences and rhizomes. Electron. J. Polish Agric. Univ. 2003, 6, 3. [Google Scholar]
  31. Kowalski, R.; Wierciński, J. Phenolic acids in leaves of three Silphium L. species. Polish J. Food Nutr. Sci. 2003, 53, 17–20. [Google Scholar]
  32. Radosław Kowalski; Studies of Selected Plant Raw Materials as Alternative Sources of Triterpenes of Oleanolic and Ursolic Acid Types. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2007, 55, 656-662, 10.1021/jf0625858.
  33. Kowalski, R. Ocena zawartości oleanozydów w organach nadziemnych i podziemnych rożnika przerośniętego Silphium perfoliatum L. Acta Sci. Pol. Hortorum Cultus 2002, 1, 5–15. [Google Scholar]
  34. K. J. Han; K. A. Albrecht; R. E. Muck; D. A. Kim; Moisture Effect on Fermentation Characteristics of Cup-Plant Silage. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2000, 13, 636-640, 10.5713/ajas.2000.636.
  35. K. J. Han; K. A. Albrecht; D. R. Mertens; D. A. Kim; Comparison of In Vitro Digestion Kinetics of Cup-Plant and Alfalfa. Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences 2000, 13, 641-644, 10.5713/ajas.2000.641.
  36. Wróblewska, A. Badania wartości pszczelarskiej Silphium perfoliatum L. In Proceedings of the Materiały I Ogólnopolskiej Konferencji Naukowej “Biologia kwitnienia, nektarowania i zapylania roślin”, Lublin, Poland, 14 October 1997; pp. 59–65. [Google Scholar]
  37. Radosław Kowalski; Bogdan Kedzia; Antibacterial Activity of Silphium perfoliatum . Extracts. Pharmaceutical Biology 2007, 45, 494-500, 10.1080/13880200701389409.
  38. Kuyanceva, A.M.; Davidyants, E.S. Regenerirujuščaja aktivnost’ ekstrakta Silphium perfoliatum. Farm. Moskwa 1988, 6, 36–37. [Google Scholar]
  39. Syrov, W.N.; Khushabaktova, Z.A.; Davidyants, E.S. Triterpenowye glikozidy Silphium perfoliatum L. Gipolipidemičeskaja aktiwnost’ sil’fiozida. Khimiko Farmatsevticheskii Zhurnal 1992, 26, 66–69. [Google Scholar]
  40. Davidyants, E.S.; Kartaševa, I.A.; Nešin, I.W. Vliyanie triterpenovych glikozidov Silphium perfoliatum L. na fitopatogennye griby. Rastit. Resur. 1997, 4, 93–98. [Google Scholar]
  41. Jamiołkowska, A.; Kowalski, R. In vitro estimate of influence of Silphium perfoliatum L. leaves extract on some fungi colonizing the pepper plants. Acta Sci. Pol. Hortorum Cultus 2012, 11, 43–55. [Google Scholar]
  42. Kowalski, R. Silphium trifoliatum L.—A new alternative cultivation herbal plant? Acta Agric. Scand. Sect. B Soil Plant Sci. 2007, 57, 155–166. [Google Scholar]
  43. Radoslaw Kowalski; Secondary metabolites in Silphium integrifolium in the first 2 years of cultivation. New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science 2004, 32, 397-406, 10.1080/01140671.2004.9514321.
  44. Radoslaw Kowalski; Growth and development of Silphium integrifolium in the first 3 years of cultivation. New Zealand Journal of Crop and Horticultural Science 2004, 32, 389-395, 10.1080/01140671.2004.9514320.
  45. Kowalski, R.; Wierciński, J. Ocena niektórych gatunków Silphium jako surowców inulinowych. Ann. Univ. Mariae Curie Sklodowska, Sect. E 2004, 59, 189–195. [Google Scholar]
  46. Kowalski, R.; Wolski, T. Charakterystyka wzrostu i rozwoju rożnika przerośniętego Silphium perfoliatum L. w pierwszych latach uprawy. Ann. Univ. Mariae Curie Sklodowska Sect. E 2001, 9, 311–317. [Google Scholar]
  47. Grażyna Kowalska; Urszula Pankiewicz; Radosław Kowalski; Evaluation of Chemical Composition of Some Silphium L. Species as Alternative Raw Materials. Agriculture 2020, 10, 132, 10.3390/agriculture10040132.
Contributors MDPI registered users' name will be linked to their SciProfiles pages. To register with us, please refer to : , ,
View Times: 1.6K
Revisions: 2 times (View History)
Update Date: 02 Nov 2020