Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 19 results
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 Indian hemp plant
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apocynum cannabinum
Description
Indian hemp is a shrubby, upright perennial with opposite branches and milky sap. This native plant can be a troublesome weed in crop fields and gardens, but Native Americans used its tough, fibrous stems for rope-making.
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 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
Closeup of single flowerhead of a New World aster with yellow disk florets and lavender ray florets
Species Types
Scientific Name
Symphyotrichum spp. (formerly Aster spp.)
Description
Missouri has 24 species of New World asters in genus Symphyotrichum. Most have purple or white ray flowers and yellow disk flowers that turn reddish over time. Most bloom in late summer and fall.
Media
Photo of Ohio horsemint inflorescence
Species Types
Scientific Name
Blephilia ciliata
Description
Square, unbranching stems, opposite leaves, two-lipped flowers, and a mild minty fragrance are clues Ohio horsemint is in the mint family. Tight, rounded flower clusters are stacked atop one another at the stem tips.
Media
A cluster of white flowers with pink-tinged tips around a yellow daisylike center.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Erigeron philadelphicus
Description
The antique belief that this plant might repel fleas gives the fleabanes their name. There are more than 170 fleabanes in the genus Erigeron in North America. This one is scattered to common nearly throughout Missouri. Native Americans used this species medicinally for a variety of ailments.
Media
Photo of dense stand of prairie blazing star or gayfeather at Pawnee Prairie
Species Types
Scientific Name
Liatris pycnostachya
Description
Prairie blazing star has an unbranched stalk with many densely crowded, rose-purple flowerheads. It is a signature wildflower of the tallgrass prairie.
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.
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!