Wildflower Favorites

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Published on: Jun. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 26, 2010

food for monarch butterfly larva. It grows best in full sun on well-drained soil. A yellow-flowered form of butterfly weed is occasionally found.

Button snakeroot (Liatris pycnostachya)

Flowers: July - October

Most Missourians will recognize the tall, purple spikes of this plant of prairies and rocky, open ground. Also called prairie blazing star or tall gayfeather, it grows wild nearly statewide and is increasingly being grown in cultivation. Bumblebees, butterflies and other insects will be frequent summer visitors to button snakeroot. Grown in full sun in average to moist soils, older plants can produce ten or more flowering stems. The tall stems of button snakeroot can reach heights of 6 feet and may require support to remain erect.

Plants of partially shaded habitats

Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)

Flowers: July - October

Late summer canoeists often see the brilliant plumes of cardinal flower growing along mud or gravel banks of Ozark streams. Cardinal flower also inhabits other wet sites throughout much of the state. This popular flower is a magnet for hummingbirds, but it also attracts butterflies. In the home landscape, cardinal flower grows to 3 feet tall in moderate shade to full sun in rich, organic soil. Because of its preference for moisture, cardinal flower requires watering through dry periods, unless planted in a moist location.

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Flowers: May - October

The large, showy flower heads of purple coneflower can appear in open woodlands throughout most of Missouri. A single older plant can have many stems of flowering heads. The showy flowers produced throughout the summer are a good nectar source for butterflies. Of the several native coneflowers, this species is the most widely grown in cultivation. It grows well in light shade to full sun in average to moist soil. Many gardeners like to use this plant for cut flowers. A related plant, pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida), has similar characteristics but tolerates drier soils.


Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Flowers: April - July

This plant grows throughout most of Missouri. Found on limestone or dolomite ledges in the Ozarks, it inhabits moist woodlands and other habitats elsewhere in the state. Columbine will spread readily from seed in flower beds or other plantings. It can tolerate shade or sun in average to moist soils, growing to a height of 3 feet. The red, tubular flowers are a popular nectar source for hummingbirds. A rare variety of columbine has solid yellow flowers.

Related Information

Your local Conservation office or nature center has brochures on these additional topics that may be of interest to you:

  • Native Plants for Landscaping
  • Landscaping for Backyard Wildlife
  • Butterfly Gardening

The Conservation Department videotape, "Landscaping for Wildlife," can be checked out from your local library or purchased by sending $9 to:

Media Library, Missouri Department of Conservation, PO Box 180, Jefferson City MO 65102-0180. Include tax and shipping.

Some bookstores sell the Conservation Department book Missouri Wildflowers, but you can also purchase it directly from the Conservation Department for $9. Write to Missouri Department of Conservation, Fiscal Section, PO Box 180, Jefferson City MO 65102-0180. Include tax and shipping.

To place an order, go to our books and videos page.

For more information on publications call:

(573) 751-4115, ext. 335.

For more information on videos and CD-ROMs call: (573) 751-4115, ext. 205.


Where to get native plants for home landscaping.

Nurseries are making native plants more widely available as their popularity increases. Ask your local nursery manager for Missouri natives or check the yellow pages for wildflower specialty nurseries. Ask for plants from nursery propagated Missouri stock. These plants are grown from seeds or cuttings from Missouri plants and are best adapted to our climate and soils. Never buy plants that are dug from the wild; refusing to do so will protect our heritage of native wildflowers where they live. It is illegal to dig plants from most public lands, including roadsides. A good source for more information on growing wildflowers is the National Wildflower Research Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave., Austin TX 78739, Phone (512) 292-4100.

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