Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 48 results
Media
Top of a prairie blazing star’s floral spike, with the sky and prairie visible in the background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Liatris spp.
Description
Missouri boasts nine native species of blazing stars, or gayfeathers, in genus Liatris. These showy, upright, unbranching spikes of magenta-pink wildflowers bloom in sunny habitats.
Media
Photo of blue cardinal flower flowering stalk
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lobelia siphilitica
Description
Blue cardinal flower, or blue lobelia, is a showy, late-blooming native wildflower that grows along streams, ditches, sloughs, and other wet places. It has blue or purple tubular flowers with 2 upper lips and 3 lower lips.
Media
Photo of a bull thistle flowerhead.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cirsium vulgare
Description
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.
Media
Photo of butterfly pea plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Clitoria mariana
Description
Butterfly pea is 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.
Media
Photo of a chicory plant.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cichorium intybus
Description
In summer and fall, the pretty blue flowers of chicory decorate roadsides and other disturbed areas. This weedy member of the aster family was introduced from Europe long ago. Its roots have been used as a coffee substitute.
Media
Photo of common dayflower flower and buds.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Commelina communis
Description
The flowers of dayflower are truly blue, and they have only two conspicuous petals. A fast-growing, sprawling, but shallow-rooted weed, this introduced species commonly annoys gardeners.
Media
Photo of common jimsonweed flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Datura stramonium
Description
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.
Media
Common violet, closeup of flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Viola sororia
Description
The common violet can be violet, white, or white with violet mottling or spots. One of 17 species or violets in Missouri, it occurs 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.
Media
Photo of a cornflower, closeup of a flowerhead.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Centaurea cyanus
Description
A native of Europe, cornflower is a popular garden flower that often escapes to nearby areas. It’s used in bridal bouquets and men’s boutonnieres. Its intense blue color appears in boxes of crayons!
Media
Curlytop ironweed flower cluster viewed from the side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vernonia arkansana
Description
Curlytop ironweed is one of Missouri’s five species of ironweeds. It’s easy to identify because of its tapering, curling, threadlike involucral bracts. Also, it is usually a smooth, hairless plant.
See Also

About Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants in Missouri

A very simple way of thinking about the green world is to divide the vascular plants into two groups: woody and nonwoody (or herbaceous). But this is an artificial division; many plant families include some species that are woody and some that are not. The diversity of nonwoody vascular plants is staggering! Think of all the ferns, grasses, sedges, lilies, peas, sunflowers, nightshades, milkweeds, mustards, mints, and mallows — weeds and wildflowers — and many more!