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.
In case the name doesn't make it clear, this milkweed is a favorite nectar plant for butterflies, and the leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of monarch butterflies. One of our showiest native wildflowers, it is also a favorite of gardeners.
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