Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 19 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
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
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
Photo of Johnson grass flower clusters
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sorghum halepense
Description
Johnson grass is a native of the Mediterranean that is invasive in our country. It’s a weed that infests cropland and degrades native ecosystems, and heavy infestations are found in all the major river bottoms of Missouri.
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 pokeweed plant with dangling stalks of ripe and unripe berries.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Phytolacca americana
Description
A tall, smooth, branching plant with red stems and juicy, dark purple berries, pokeweed is both toxic and a traditional edible potherb called poke salat. It is common statewide.
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 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.
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!