Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 14 results
Media
Photo of black mustard flower cluster
Species Types
Scientific Name
Brassica nigra
Description
Next time you breeze past weedy black mustard on the highway or spot it in a fallow field, think of how important this and other mustards are to the world economy – and to your dinner table.
Media
Bur cucumber flowers and foliage
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sicyos angulatus
Description
Bur cucumber is a nonwoody, annual vine common in low, moist soils. It can spread across an area 20 feet wide, covering the ground and nearby shrubs. Note its lobed, gourd-family leaves, curly green tendrils, clusters of prickly, green, oval fruits, and 5-lobed, cream-colored flowers.
Media
Photo of Carolina false dandelion flowerhead.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pyrrhopappus carolinianus
Description
One of several native plants called dandelions, Carolina false dandelion is an annual with sulphur yellow flowers and puffy seedheads.
Media
Photo of several cattail flowering stalks
Species Types
Scientific Name
Typha spp.
Description
Missouri’s cattails are all tall wetland plants with narrow, upright leaves emerging from a thick base, and a central stalk bearing a brown, sausage-shaped flower spike.
Media
Photo of common evening primrose, closeup of flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Oenothera biennis
Description
True to its name, common evening primrose is the most common and widespread evening primrose in Missouri. It is most noticeable late in the season, when it reaches its greatest height and the flowers at the top are most visible.
Media
Photo of common ground cherry flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Physalis longifolia
Description
Common ground cherry is closely related to the tomatillo, which you’ve probably seen in the grocery store or had in a delicious salsa verde at a Mexican restaurant. The fruits of ground cherry are edible, too.
Media
Common purslane plant growing on bare, dry soil
Species Types
Scientific Name
Portulaca oleracea
Description
Purslane can be an aggressive pest in gardens and is one of the worst agricultural weeds in the world. Meanwhile, it’s also a favorite wild vegetable served cooked or raw, and many people cultivate it.
Media
Sunflowers at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area
Species Types
Scientific Name
Helianthus annuus
Description
Whether you see the wild form or any of the many cultivated varieties, this poster child of the sunflower family cultivates its own sunny impression. Common sunflower is also the state flower of Kansas.
Media
Photo of eastern prickly pear plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Opuntia humifusa (formerly O. compressa)
Description
Cacti make us think of the desert southwest, but there is at least one species native to Missouri. This prickly pear grows in glades, sand prairies, rocky open hillsides, and other dry, sun-soaked areas.
Media
Photo of ground plum, top of plant, showing flowers and several leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Astragalus crassicarpus (formerly A. mexicanus)
Description
Ground plum is a legume that bears plumlike, edible fruits. Its short, spikelike clusters of pea flowers can be white, cream, yellow, pink, or violet.
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!