The Plant Sleuths

This content is archived

Published on: Dec. 2, 1997

Last revision: Oct. 27, 2010

make an identification.

You'll receive a rare plant reporting form, which asks for the date you saw the plant, a description of its habitat, number of plants seen and the name of the site's owner. You'll also be asked to mark the location on a map.

Although the plants in this list aren't currently known to be in Missouri, they do grow elsewhere. Some are plentiful in other parts of their natural range; some are scarce and federally protected. triangle

Purple paintbrush - (Castilleja purpurea)

article photo The noticeable purple is actually in bracts (small leaflike structures) that enclose the flowers. The plant, 4 to 12 inches tall, has two or more flowering stems and grows in rocky open ground. The leaves are crowded, deeply divided, spreading upward. Missouri is on the eastern edge of purple paintbrush's range; it is common further west. The genus is named for Domingo Castillejo, a Spanish botanist.

Last seen: 1903, northern Greene County

Family: Scrophulariaceae (figwort family)

Flowering dates: April to May

Snow wreath - (Neviusia alabamensis)

article photo The remarkable beauty of this shrub is in its clusters of unusual flowers, each flower a spray of white stamens with no petals. Because it grows on steep, rocky slopes and its blooming time is brief, you might not notice it. Arching stems, 3 to 6 feet long, grow in a clump. The leaves are doubly toothed and stay green to late November.

This is one of the rarest shrubs in North America, but botanists have long believed it still grows in Missouri. It's a candidate for federal listing.

Last seen: 1918, west of Poplar Bluff in Butler County, growing in sandy loam on a slope near a creek

Family: Rosaceae (rose family)

Flowering dates: One to two weeks in late April

Clustered poppy mallow - (Callirhoe triangulata)

article photo Clusters of vivid rose-purple flowers will draw you to this plant, but the best clue is in the leaves, most of which are triangular. (Some other poppy mallows have similar flowers, but their leaves are usually deeply lobed or divided.) Flowers have five petals; leaves are notched, rather than toothed.

Poppy mallow may be as tall as 24 inches, usually growing in acid soils in rocky open woods, sandy open ground, sandy prairies and glades. The genus is named Callirhoe for a spring in Athens, Greece; it means "beautifully flowing."

Last seen: 1933, in Mississippi

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