Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 8 of 8 results
Media
Buffalo grass with male flowering stalks
Species Types
Scientific Name
Buchloe dactyloides
Description
Buffalo grass is a native perennial warm-season short grass that creeps widely by runners and forms dense mats. As a native, it occurs in the prairies in far northwest Missouri, but it now occurs elsewhere in the state and has become popular as a lawn grass.
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 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
Species Types
Scientific Name
Xanthium strumarium
Description
Common cocklebur occurs statewide in open, disturbed, lowland habitats. It is a common weed in crop fields. It has wide, rough, coarsely toothed leaves; stout, often purple-speckled stems; and characteristic burs with hooked spines.
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
Photo of rattlesnake master flower heads side view
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eryngium yuccifolium
Description
“It’s an odd plant,” this rattlesnake master, “with its leaves like yucca, a head like a thistle, and second cousin to the carrot.” That’s how the great prairie writer John Madson summed it up!
Media
Photo of wood nettle leaves at top of plant.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Laportea canadensis
Description
Wood nettle, or stinging nettle, often forms dense stands in bottomland forests, streamsides, and other places. There, canoeists, anglers, and others try to avoid touching its stinging hairs!
Media
Photo of soapweed, a type of yucca
Species Types
Scientific Name
Yucca smalliana, Y. glauca, and Y. arkansana
Description
Three species of yucca grow wild in Missouri. Spanish bayonet was introduced from the Southwest and has escaped from cultivation, but our two soapweeds are native.
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!