Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 18 results
Media
Photo of blooming bitterweed plant shown from top.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Helenium amarum
Description
Our weediest sneezeweed, bitterweed arrived in Missouri in the late 1800s from its home range in Texas and Louisiana. Like our other heleniums, it has domed disks and yellow, fan-shaped, notched ray florets. Unlike them, the leaves are narrowly linear.
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 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
Deptfort pink blooming in an open area
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dianthus armeria
Description
Deptford pink has straight, strong, narrow stems that bear small clusters of pink flowers with white dots. Common statewide in sunny, open locations such as pastures and roadsides.
Media
Photo of tall goldenrod plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Solidago spp. (23 species in Missouri)
Description
There are 23 species of goldenrods in Missouri. They can be hard to identify to species, but as a group, the goldenrods are common and nearly unmistakable.
Media
Photo of several big bluestem seed heads against a blue sky.
Species Types
Scientific Name
All true grasses (species in the grass family)
Description
Missouri has 276 species in the grass family, including well-known crop plants and our native prairie grasses. Distinguishing between the species can be difficult, but it’s easy to learn some basics about the group.
Media
Photo of Johnson grass flower clusters
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sorghum halepense
Description
Johnson grass is a native of the Mediterranean that is invasive in our country. It’s a weed that infests cropland and degrades native ecosystems, and heavy infestations are found in all the major river bottoms of Missouri.
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 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
Closeup side view of rough blazing star flowerhead
Species Types
Scientific Name
Liatris aspera
Description
Rough blazing star is fairly common and scattered nearly statewide. To distinguish between Missouri’s nine species in the genus Liatris, start by noting details of the flower structure. It’s not hard when you know what to look for.
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!