Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 10 results
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.
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 climbing false buckwheat vines, leaves, and flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Fallopia scandens (formerly Polygonum scandens)
Description
Climbing false buckwheat is a rampant annual or perennial climber that often forms curtainlike masses of twining red stems, covering shrubs and trees. Look for it in moist, open or shaded bottomlands, alluvial valleys, and floodplains.
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.
Media
Rope dodder stems
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cuscuta spp.
Description
Dodders are easy to identify, even though at first you might not recognize them as plants. These parasitic plants usually look like a hairlike mass of yellow or orange, leafless, wiry, vining stems wrapping around the stems of other plants.
Media
Photo of Japanese knotweed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Fallopia japonica
Description
One of the worst invasive species in the world, Japanese knotweed can thrive in many places and can even damage foundations of buildings — not to mention the harm it causes in natural habitats. Learn to recognize it so you can prevent its spread.
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
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 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 yellow passionflower flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Passiflora lutea
Description
Yellow passion flower is the smaller of Missouri’s two Passiflora species. Both are vines that climb via tendrils. This one has yellowish-green flowers about an inch wide. Look for it along and south of the Missouri River.
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!