Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 22 results
Media
Photo of rose verbena, or rose vervain, flower cluster showing leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Glandularia canadensis (formerly Verbena canadensis)
Description
One of our jazziest spring flowers, rose verbena catches your eye in the prairies and open areas it prefers. At first glance, you might think this is a type of phlox, but the rough, lobed and toothed foliage will tell you a different story.
Media
Photo of purple milkweed flower cluster
Species Types
Scientific Name
Asclepias purpurascens
Description
The flowers of purple milkweed are pale purple to reddish purple to dark purple, with greenish or red tints. The scientific name means “becoming purple”: The flowers start off rather pale and become more intensely purplish as they mature.
Media
Photo of smooth spiderwort flowers being visited by beelike syrphid flies
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tradescantia ohiensis
Description
Smooth spiderwort is the most common and widely distributed of Missouri's spiderworts. It has slender, straight or zigzag stems. The long, narrow leaves are folded lengthwise and attach to the stem in a thick node. The 3 petals of the triangular flower are blue, rose, purple, lavender, or white.
Media
Photo of wild potato vine flowers and leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ipomoea pandurata
Description
Wild potato vine is related to the sweet potatoes we buy at grocery stores. This native vine is also related to the morning glories that decorate trellises and to the bindweed that plagues gardeners and farmers.
Media
Photo of goat's rue showing flower cluster
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tephrosia virginiana
Description
Two-colored flowers of pink and light yellow make goat's rue easy to identify. Look for this legume in rocky, open woods, savannas, prairies, glades, and fields.
Media
Western ironweed flowerhead in bloom
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vernonia baldwinii
Description
Ironweeds are tough, grayish-green, branching plants known for their fluffy-looking clusters of reddish-purple florets. They are a familiar sight on roadsides and pastures. Identify western ironweed by the bracts at the base of the flowerheads.
Media
Photo of long-leaved bluets plants with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Houstonia longifolia (sometimes Hedyotis longifolia)
Description
The petals of long-leaved bluets are not blue; they are white, often tinged with pink. Look for it in rocky, open Ozark woods, prairies, glades, and old fields in the southeastern half of the state. It prefers acid soils.
Media
spotted knapweed
Species Types
Scientific Name
Centaurea stoebe
Description
Spotted knapweed is an invasive plant that outcompetes native communities, takes over pastureland, and even beats back invasive sericea lespedeza! It has arrived in our state. Let’s prevent its spread.
Media
Photo of a musk thistle blooming flower head.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carduus nutans
Description
An invasive native of Eurasia that is spreading in Missouri, musk thistle is a plant you should know. Learn how to tell the difference between our native thistles and these bad guys.
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.
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!