Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 22 results
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 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
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 several reed canary grass plants with flowering heads
Species Types
Scientific Name
Phalaris arundinacea
Description
Reed canary grass is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and it varies quite a bit. Our native Missouri version, for instance, is quite different from the Eurasian type that has been widely introduced — and which has proven to be highly invasive.
Media
Photo of tall fescue plants
Species Types
Scientific Name
Festuca arundinacea
Description
You’ve seen it a million times, now learn to identify it! Technically an exotic invasive plant, tall fescue is practically everywhere, from lawns to levees, and from pastures to (unfortunately!) prairies.
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 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.
Media
Photo of white snakeroot leaves and flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ageratina altissima (formerly Eupatorium rugosum)
Description
White snakeroot looks very similar to thoroughworts, but it has triangular leaf blades that are more broadly angled or rounded at the base. White snakeroot is common statewide. It’s a toxic plant if eaten, so it’s good to be able to identify it.
Media
Photo of Solomon’s seal flowers and leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Polygonatum biflorum
Description
Solomon's seal grows statewide in moist, rich earth. The greenish-white flowers dangle like little bells beneath the leaves, under the gracefully arching stems.
Media
Photo of wake robin, or trillium, plant with leaves and flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Trillium sessile
Description
The flower of wake robin, or trillium, has 3 petals and 3 sepals, and 3 leaves that subtend the solitary flower. The petal color varies in this common woodland spring wildflower, but it is most commonly brownish or maroon.
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!