Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 11 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
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
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
Scaly blazing star blooming near Rosati Towersite
Species Types
Scientific Name
Liatris squarrosa (syn. L. hirsuta, in part)
Description
Scaly blazing star is one of several Missouri native species of blazing stars, or gayfeathers. It is scattered nearly statewide. Identify it by its long-pointed flowerhead bracts that spread or curl sharply away.
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
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
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
Photo of tall thistle plants with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cirsium altissimum
Description
Tall thistle is a native thistle that can grow to be 10 feet tall! To identify it, notice its leaves, which are unlobed (though they may be wavy or have only shallow, broad lobes), are felty-hairy beneath, and have prickles only along the edges.
Media
Photo of yarrow or common milfoil flower cluster
Species Types
Scientific Name
Achillea millefolium
Description
Native to North America, Europe, and Asia, yarrow has been used for medicine and magic for millennia. This aromatic plant has fine, hairy, fernlike leaves and flat-topped clusters of little white flowers.
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!