Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 70 results
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!
Media
Photo of purple milkweed flower cluster
Species Types
Scientific Name
Asclepias purpurascens
Description
The flowers of purple milkweed are pale purple to reddish purple to dark purple, with greenish or red tints. The scientific name means “becoming purple”: The flowers start off rather pale and become more intensely purplish as they mature.
Media
Photo of leafy spurge seed heads
Species Types
Scientific Name
Euphorbia esula
Description
When you consider the negative effects this plant has on natural habitats, and how hard it is to control or eradicate, you almost want to rename it “leafy scourge”! This invasive plant is spreading in our state. Learn how to identify it.
Media
Photo of green-flowered milkweed showing flowers and leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Asclepias viridis
Description
The flower clusters of green-flowered or spider milkweed bear large flowers for a milkweed. The jazzy purple hoods are dazzling against the greenish-yellow petals.
Media
Photo of yellow star grass plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hypoxis hirsuta
Description
Yellow star grass grows throughout the tallgrass prairie region. Imagine the thoughts of pioneers when they gazed upon these bright little lilies during stops along their westward journey!
Media
Photo of American pondweed leaves floating on water surface
Species Types
Scientific Name
Potamogeton spp.
Description
Pondweeds are rooted aquatic plants with underwater leaves on long, flexible, jointed stems. Some have floating leaves, too, that are differently shaped. Missouri has about 10 species in the pondweed genus.
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
Picture of a patch of filamentous green algae floating in a stream.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cladophora, Pithophora, and Spirogyra spp., and others
Description
Filamentous green algae forms green, cottony masses that are free-floating or attached to rocks, debris, or other plants.
Media
Photo of southern naiad aquatic plant with a penny for scale
Species Types
Scientific Name
Najas spp.
Description
Naiads are slender, narrow-leaved plants that grow completely under water and are rooted to the bottom. They never have broad, floating leaves or conspicuous flowers or seed heads.
Media
Photo of coontail aquatic plant with penny for scale
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ceratophyllum demersum
Description
Coontail, a common submerged aquatic plant, got its name from the crowded upper leaves, which make the stem tip appear bushy like the tail of a raccoon.
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!