Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 11 results
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
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
Photo of field milkwort flowerheads.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Polygala sanguinea
Description
The dense, cylindrical flower clusters of field milkwort are pink to white and, at first glance, look something like a clover head. This small annual wildflower is common in prairies, old fields, meadows, and glades.
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 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
Photo of purple prairie clover, closeup of flowerhead
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dalea purpurea (formerly Petalostemon purpureum)
Description
Purple prairie clover is a legume of prairies, glades, and other open places. Its unusual flowering heads ringed with rose-magenta flowers and its attractive foliage add special interest in the home garden.
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.
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
Vertical image closeup of sweet flag spadix
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acorus calamus (syn. A. calamus var. calamus)
Description
At a glance, the upright sword-shaped leaves of sweet flag make it resemble cattails or irises. Like them, sweet flag also lives in wet soils. But the flower heads are distinctive, and details of the leaves set them apart, too.
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!