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Compass plant against a blue sky

Where did this plant get such a name? The large leaves at the bottom of the compass plant almost always align themselves with north and south. Early travelers across the central plains used this plant to help give them direction.

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.