Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 110 results
Media
Photo of American water willow closeup on flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Justicia americana
Description
American water willow is common on gravel bars and other stream banks throughout much of Missouri. The dense colonies of emergent stems have leaves like a willow’s, but the two-lipped flowers resemble little orchids.
Media
Arrowhead plant showing leaves and flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sagittaria spp.
Description
Arrowheads are aquatic plants with erect, usually arrow-shaped leaves and distinctive three-petaled flowers. They are often called duck potatoes because ducks, geese, and swans relish the tuberlike rootstocks.
Media
Photo of bastard toadflax plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Comandra umbellata (formerly C. richardsiana)
Description
Bastard, or false toadflax is one of the hundreds of wildflowers that bejewel our native prairies. A perennial herb with yellowish-green foliage and smooth, upright stems, it grows and flowers under the hottest conditions.
Media
Bird's-Foot Violet
Species Types
Scientific Name
Viola pedata
Description
In springtime, bird's-foot violet can make a glade or bluff top heavenly with its pretty lavender and purple "faces." When you see your first big colony of bird's-foot violets, you will probably never forget it.
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 bloodroot plant with flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sanguinaria canadensis
Description
Bloodroot’s pure white petals are even more remarkable given the plant’s bright red sap. This feature, plus the unique leaf shape, make this early spring wildflower easy to identify.
Media
Photo of blue phlox (wild sweet William) plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Phlox divaricata
Description
A common, eye-catching native spring wildflower, blue phlox is found nearly statewide.
Media
Photo of blue-eyed grass flower closeup
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sisyrinchium campestre
Description
It has grasslike leaves, but it’s not a grass. In fact, it’s in the same family as the common garden iris! Four species of blue-eyed grass grow in Missouri, and this one, often found on prairies, glades, and pastures, is the most common.
Media
Photo of blue-eyed Mary flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Collinsia verna
Description
The flowers of blue-eyed Mary are only about a half inch wide, but this pretty wildflower makes up for it by usually appearing in abundance, covering a patch of forest floor with little sky-blue and white “faces.”
Media
Photo of bluebells, or Virginia cowslip, plants with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Mertensia virginica
Description
One of our most stunning early spring wildflowers, bluebells is also a popular native plant for gardening. As with all native plant gardening, make sure you get your plants from ethical sources.
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!