Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 24 results
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 common milkweed flower cluster
Species Types
Scientific Name
Asclepias syriaca
Description
Common milkweed is famous as a food plant for monarch butterflies. It bears curious seedpods bearing seeds that fly on silky parachutes. It's common statewide in a variety of habitats.
Media
Curlytop ironweed flower cluster viewed from the side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vernonia arkansana
Description
Curlytop ironweed is one of Missouri’s five species of ironweeds. It’s easy to identify because of its tapering, curling, threadlike involucral bracts. Also, it is usually a smooth, hairless plant.
Media
Photo of hairy rose mallow flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hibiscus lasiocarpos
Description
Hibiscus in Missouri? You bet! Hairy rose mallow is a native perennial whose 6-inch-wide blossoms look a lot like those of its tropical relatives. The stalks can get woody and can grow to 8 feet tall.
Media
Photo of hedge bindweed flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Calystegia sepium (also Convolvulus sepium)
Description
Instantly recognizable as a type of morning glory, hedge bindweed is common in disturbed habitats and can be a serious agricultural weed, but it is not as problematic as its relative field bindweed.
Media
Giant ironweed flower cluster
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vernonia spp.
Description
Five species of ironweeds live in Missouri. Starting in the middle of summer, they bear showy clusters of magenta or purple flowerheads at the branching tops of upright stalks.
Media
Photo of a huge mass of kudzu vines covering trees and ground
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pueraria montana
Description
Of the many invasive exotic plants that were originally introduced to stop soil erosion and improve soils, kudzu is one of the worst. This “vine that ate the South” is often the first plant that comes to mind when we think of “invasive exotics.”
Media
Photo of a large-flowered gaura inflorescence
Species Types
Scientific Name
Oenothera filiformis (formerly Gaura longiflora, G. biennis)
Description
Large-flowered gaura is a tall plant whose white flowers turn pinkish as they age. Four petals point upward, then bend back, and 8 stamens droop downward. The flowers look something like small butterflies.
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
Missouri ironweed cluster of blooming flowerheads
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vernonia missurica
Description
Missouri ironweed is one of Missouri’s five species of ironweeds. Most common in the eastern half of the state, it is a hairy ironweed with a relatively large number of florets per flowerhead.
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!