The small, cloverlike flowering heads and trifoliate leaves of black medick are a clue that this plant is in the Fabaceae, the bean or pea family. An introduced, weedy species, it is closely related to alfalfa.
A tall, slender, erect perennial with branching stems and rough hairs. Flowers in many terminal spikes, deep purple, violet, light lavender or rarely white. The flowers are tubular, 5-lobed, opening from the base of the spikes upward.
It has grasslike leaves, but it's not a grass. In fact, it's in the same family as the common garden iris! Four species of blue-eyed grass grow in Missouri, and this one, often found on prairies, glades and pastures, is the most common.
The flowers of this species are only about a half inch wide, but blue-eyed Mary makes up for it by usually appearing in abundance, covering a patch of forest floor with little sky-blue and white "faces."
Bull thistle is a weedy introduction from Europe, found statewide. To tell it from our other thistles, note its stems with spiny-margined wings, and its leaves with the upper surface strongly roughened with stiff, spiny bristles.
A low, shrubby or twining perennial in the pea family, with showy, butterfly-like flowers. The leaves are compound with three leaflets. This species grows in the southern parts of Missouri, in acid soils.
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