Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 49 results
Media
Photo of hairy vetch flower clusters and leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vicia villosa
Description
Branching, spreading, and tangling, hairy vetch forms dense colonies along highways and other disturbed sites. This softly hairy ground-covering plant has one-sided clusters of purple pea flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Orbexilum onobrychis (formerly Psoralea onobrychis)
Description
Looking absolutely nothing like a grass, French grass, a legume, bears upright spikes of pale purple flowers on long stems from the leaf axils. The leaves are trifoliate, resembling those of soybeans.
Media
Photo of rough-fruited cinquefoil plant and flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Potentilla recta
Description
Rough-fruited cinquefoil is common in most of North America in fields and pastures, along roadsides, and other disturbed areas. It’s a stout, tall, hairy plant with five yellow to cream-colored, slightly notched petals.
Media
Photo of water milfoil plants along the shore of a pond
Species Types
Scientific Name
Myriophyllum spp.
Description
Water milfoils are feathery aquatic plants that grow rooted in shallow water. Their tips emerge above the waterline and bear bladelike, toothed leaves.
Media
Photo of southern naiad aquatic plant with a penny for scale
Species Types
Scientific Name
Najas spp.
Description
Naiads are slender, narrow-leaved plants that grow completely under water and are rooted to the bottom. They never have broad, floating leaves or conspicuous flowers or seed heads.
Media
Photo of yellow rocket flower clusters
Species Types
Scientific Name
Barbarea vulgaris
Description
Yellow rocket is a mustard native to Eurasia that was introduced long ago and today is found across North America. The mustard family used to be called the Cruciferae, because of the cross shape formed by the four petals.
Media
Photo of buffalo bur flower and leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Solanum rostratum
Description
A spiny annual with bright yellow flowers and dandelion-like leaves, buffalo bur is an introduced member of the nightshade family.
Media
Photo of goat's rue showing flower cluster
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tephrosia virginiana
Description
Two-colored flowers of pink and light yellow make goat's rue easy to identify. Look for this legume in rocky, open woods, savannas, prairies, glades, and fields.
Media
Photo of white wild indigo plant with flowering stalk amid prairie grasses
Species Types
Scientific Name
Baptisia alba (formerly B. leucantha)
Description
White wild indigo is the tallest species of false indigo in Missouri. It has a robust, striking presence, with white flowers and a shrubby look. Look for it statewide, in prairies and glades and along roadsides, streams, and valleys.
Media
Photo of long-bracted wild indigo plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Baptisia bracteata (formerly B. leucophaea)
Description
Long-bracted wild indigo flowers April–June, while the surrounding vegetation is still short. Its racemes of creamy-white pea flowers mature into oval pods with tapering beaks.
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!