Common gerardia is a small, showy wildflower identified by its slender, opposite leaves and thin, wiry, branching stems. The small, funnel-shaped blossoms are pink or purple, with an upper lip that arches over the 4 hairy stamens.
Pretty but poisonous, jimsonweed has white goblet-shaped flowers that open around midnight. This native of tropical America was introduced nearly throughout the United States and thrives in disturbed soils.
A common flower statewide, found in a variety of habitats, common milkweed is famous as a food plant for monarch butterflies. It is also notable for its curious seedpods bearing seeds that fly on silky parachutes.
Common reed is both native and exotic, but it’s the exotic subspecies that has become an invasive problem. Taking over wetlands with its dense stands, it changes the plant and animal communities and even the way the water flows.
Whether you see the wild form or any of the many cultivated varieties, this “poster child” of the sunflower (or daisy) family cultivates its own pleasant impression. It is also the state flower of our neighbor to the west, Kansas.
There are nearly 20 species of violets in Missouri. This one, which can be violet, white or white-and-violet, is found statewide in a variety of habitats. Note its heart-shaped or rounded, scalloped leaves, and (usually) the presence of hairs on stems and/or foliage.
Full grown, it looks something like a gigantic Queen Anne's lace or a parsnip, but this common, widespread member of the carrot family is the most toxic plant in North America. All parts are deadly. A piece of root the size of a walnut can kill a cow-sized animal.
This common yellow sunflower grows to 8 feet tall and has foot-long, deeply cleft leaves at its base. Because its leaves turn so that the surfaces face east and west (to take full advantage of the sun's rays), this species is called “compass plant.”
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