Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 70 results
Media
Photo of American ginseng plant with ripe berries
Species Types
Scientific Name
Panax quinquefolius
Description
Wild and cultivated ginseng produce an annual crop in the United States and Canada valued in excess of $25 million, but overzealous collection is causing serious concern about the survival of American ginseng in the forest ecosystem.
Media
Photo of blue grama grass clump growing in habitat
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bouteloua gracilis
Description
Blue grama is a native perennial warm-season short grass that forms dense clumps. The flowering stems are 6–12 inches tall, and the short, curving, one-sided seed head resembles an eyebrow. In Missouri, it occurs mostly in our northwestern loess hill prairies.
Media
Bottlebrush grass flowerhead showing spikelets spreading away from main axis
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elymus hystrix
Description
Bottlebrush grass is a native perennial, tuft-forming wild rye that typically grows in woodlands. The widely spaced spikelets spread away at a right angle from the main flowering stem.
Media
Buffalo grass with male flowering stalks
Species Types
Scientific Name
Buchloe dactyloides
Description
Buffalo grass is a native perennial warm-season short grass that creeps widely by runners and forms dense mats. As a native, it occurs in the prairies in far northwest Missouri, but it now occurs elsewhere in the state and has become popular as a lawn grass.
Media
Bur cucumber flowers and foliage
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sicyos angulatus
Description
Bur cucumber is a nonwoody, annual vine common in low, moist soils. It can spread across an area 20 feet wide, covering the ground and nearby shrubs. Note its lobed, gourd-family leaves, curly green tendrils, clusters of prickly, green, oval fruits, and 5-lobed, cream-colored flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bromus pubescens (formerly B. purgans)
Description
Several species of brome grasses are found in Missouri. Canada brome, or hairy woodland brome, is one of the few that are native. It grows to 4 feet high, and its open flower clusters have drooping spikelets.
Media
Canada wild rye seed heads in late season, showing drooping habit and curling awns
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elymus canadensis
Description
Canada wild rye can be identified by its bristly seed heads, which curve downward. As the seeds mature, the straight, long awns curve and bend. This is a common native cool-season grass that reaches about 4 feet tall and is highly valued as forage and hay for livestock.
Media
Caucasian bluestem seed head
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bothriochloa bladhii
Description
Causasian bluestem and the closely related yellow bluestem are both aggressive, weedy degraders of pasturelands that escape cultivation and endanger native habitats. Learn more about these Old World grasses, and please don’t plant them!
Media
Photo of chara, an alga with stemlike and leaflike structures
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chara spp.
Description
These aquatic algae look like regular vascular plants. Chara has a crisp, gritty texture, a musky odor, and gray-green, needlelike structures that resemble leaves.
Media
Photo of Chinese yam showing leaves and bulbils
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dioscorea oppositifolia (sometimes called D. batatas)
Description
Similar to kudzu, Chinese yam is an aggressive vine that overtakes nearly everything within reach that stands still long enough! Learn more about this invasive plant — and please don’t plant it!
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!