plant genus, 1771, from Latin, from Greek Silphion, name of a North African Mediterranean plant whose identity has been lost, the gum or juice of which was prized by the ancients as a condiment and a medicine. Probably of African origin.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Examples from the Web for silphium
Within the mountains, on the high plateau, assafoetida (silphium) was found, and probably some other medicinal herbs.
When, in 658, Cyrenaica was incorporated with the Roman Republic, the province paid an annual tribute in silphium.
The most important object of commerce of the Cyrenaica was the silphium, a plant the root of which sold for its weight in silver.
The compass plants include, among others, the wild lettuce (Lactuca scariola) and rosin weed (Silphium laciniatum).
The compass-plant, or rosin-weed, as it is commonly called, is the Silphium laciniatum of the botanists.The Ranche on the Oxhide