Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 12 results
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
Curly dock plants blooming on a field margin north of Jefferson City
Species Types
Scientific Name
Rumex crispus
Description
Curly dock’s rosettes of wavy-edged, leathery leaves are a common sight on roadsides and other disturbed lands. The fruit clusters at the top half of the plant turn dark rusty brown and are easy to spot from a distance.
Media
Photo of several big bluestem seed heads against a blue sky.
Species Types
Scientific Name
All true grasses (species in the grass family)
Description
Missouri has 276 species in the grass family, including well-known crop plants and our native prairie grasses. Distinguishing between the species can be difficult, but it’s easy to learn some basics about the group.
Media
Whorled milkweed flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Subfamily Asclepiadoideae
Description
Milkweeds are a group of plants that used to have their very own family. Now part of the dogbane family, they’re still a pretty distinctive group.
Media
Orchard grass leaves and flowering stems, growing in a field
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dactylis glomerata
Description
Orchard grass is a perennial, clump-forming, cool-season grass introduced to American pastures long ago. Identify this common roadside grass by its bluish-green leaves, flattened stalks, and dense, flattened, bushy clusters of spikelets.
Media
Photo of prairie alum root flower stalk with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Heuchera richardsonii
Description
Prairie alum root lifts its small, greenish, bell-shaped flowers high on a hairy stalk. The leaves are all in a basal clump, have long stalks, and look a bit like maple leaves.
Media
Photo of path rush, closeup showing drying fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Juncus spp. and Luzula spp.
Description
Missouri has 24 species in the rush family. Distinguishing between these grasslike plants can be tricky, but it’s easy to learn some basics about the group.
Media
Photo of eastern woodland sedge plant growing among leaf litter.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carex, Schoenoplectus, Scirpus, and other genera
Description
Missouri has more than 200 species in the sedge family. Distinguishing between these grasslike plants can be difficult, but it’s easy to learn some basics about the group.
Media
Virginia wild rye flowering heads backlit against a background of shrubs and trees
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elymus virginicus
Description
Virginia wild rye can be identified by its bristly seed heads, which are held erect and whose bristle-like awns stay straight. This is a common native perennial tuft-forming, cool-season midgrass usually reaching about 2–4 feet in height.
Media
Photo of white avens flower and upper stem leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Geum canadense
Description
White avens, a common wildflower in the rose family, may not catch your eye during hikes, but you will probably notice the seeds clinging to your socks when you get home!
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!