Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 26 results
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.
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
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
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
Common ragweed leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambrosia artemisiifolia
Description
Common ragweed is instantly recognizable by its ornate, 2–3 times pinnately lobed, hairy leaves. You’ve probably seen it many times and wondered what it was.
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
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
Eastern figwort flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Scrophularia marilandica
Description
Eastern figwort occurs statewide in rich woods, woodland borders, and bottomlands. It’s usually 2-5 feet high, has square stems and lance-shaped, toothed leaves, and bears spreading clusters of small, green scoop-shaped flowers with brown petal lobes.
Media
Giant ragweed foliage
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambrosia trifida
Description
Large stands of wind-pollinated giant ragweed commonly form in disturbed areas, causing late-summer misery in the form of hay fever for many Missourians.
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.
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!