Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 22 results
Media
Photo of blackberry lily showing open and spent flowers and developing fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Iris domestica (formerly Belamcanda chinensis)
Description
Blackberry lily has leaves like an iris, flowers like an Asian lily, and seeds that look like blackberries! Introduced as an ornamental, this self-seeding member of the iris family occurs on bluffs, roadsides, and old homesites.
Media
Top of a prairie blazing star’s floral spike, with the sky and prairie visible in the background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Liatris spp.
Description
Missouri boasts nine native species of blazing stars, or gayfeathers, in genus Liatris. These showy, upright, unbranching spikes of magenta-pink wildflowers bloom in sunny habitats.
Media
Photo of a bull thistle flowerhead.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cirsium vulgare
Description
Bull thistle is a weedy introduction from Europe, found statewide. To tell it from our other thistles, note its stems with spiny-margined wings, and its leaves with the upper surface strongly roughened with stiff, spiny bristles.
Media
Photo of Culver's root plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Veronicastrum virginicum
Description
Culver’s root is a tall, graceful perennial with flower clusters that look like candelabras. The white flowers are packed together in slender, brushlike spikes. The leaves are in whorls, well-spaced along the stalk.
Media
Cylindrical blazing star, top of blooming plant showing 3 flowerheads
Species Types
Scientific Name
Liatris cylindracea
Description
Cylindrical blazing star is one of several Missouri native species of blazing stars, or gayfeathers. It is widely scattered in the Ozarks and eastern Missouri. Identify it by its bracts, which are pressed against the base of the flowerhead, accentuating its cylindrical look.
Media
Photo of glade coneflower flowerhead showing yellow pollen
Species Types
Scientific Name
Echinacea simulata
Description
One of Missouri’s five types of echinaceas, glade coneflower is distinguished by its yellow pollen, drooping pink or purple ray flowers, and narrow, tapering leaves. Look for it in the eastern Ozarks, and at native plant nurseries!
Media
Green-stemmed Joe-Pye weed flower cluster
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eutrochium spp. (formerly Eupatorium spp.)
Description
Joe-Pye weeds have rounded clusters of pink or purplish flowers and leaves arranged in whorls on the stem. They are typically tall, robust plants growing in lowlands along streams. Missouri has three species.
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
Photo of mayapple colony looking like numerous green umbrellas on forest floor
Species Types
Scientific Name
Podophyllum peltatum
Description
Mayapple is a common spring wildflower that makes its biggest impression with its leaves, which resemble umbrellas arising from a single stalk. It often grows in colonies.
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!