Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 28 results
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.
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 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
Hairy grama, closeup of flowerhead
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bouteloua hirsuta
Description
Hairy grama is a native perennial warm-season short grass that forms dense clumps. The flowering stems are 4–16 inches tall, and the short, curving, one-sided, hairy seed head ends in a needle-like point. Very uncommon in our state, it occurs mostly in the loess hill prairies of northwest Missouri.
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
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.
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!