Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 324 results
Media
Canada wild rye seed heads in late season, showing drooping habit and curling awns
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elymus canadensis
Description
Canada wild rye can be identified by its bristly seed heads, which curve downward. As the seeds mature, the straight, long awns curve and bend. This is a common native cool-season grass that reaches about 4 feet tall and is highly valued as forage and hay for livestock.
Media
Hairy grama, closeup of flowerhead
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bouteloua hirsuta
Description
Hairy grama is a native perennial warm-season short grass that forms dense clumps. The flowering stems are 4–16 inches tall, and the short, curving, one-sided, hairy seed head ends in a needle-like point. Very uncommon in our state, it occurs mostly in the loess hill prairies of northwest Missouri.
Media
Orchard grass leaves and flowering stems, growing in a field
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dactylis glomerata
Description
Orchard grass is a perennial, clump-forming, cool-season grass introduced to American pastures long ago. Identify this common roadside grass by its bluish-green leaves, flattened stalks, and dense, flattened, bushy clusters of spikelets.
Media
Photo of poverty grass clump amid fallen autumn leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Danthonia spicata
Description
A common sight in dry upland Ozark woods, poverty grass is a species you can identify by its leaves alone. The basal leaves persist for several years, becoming dry and curly. Although the flowering stems can be 2 feet high, the basal leaves are only about 5 inches long.
Media
Mature prairie dropseed backlit in prairie
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sporobolus heterolepis
Description
Prairie dropseed is a native perennial bunch grass that forms dense clumps of fine, light green, arching leaves. The seed heads are airy, open, branching clusters bearing small, ovate florets on their own individual branchlets.
Media
River oats flowers, stem, and leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chasmanthium latifolium
Description
River oats is a native cool-season grass that is common nearly statewide in bottomlands, stream valleys, and other moist places. The open, nodding, flattened flower and seed clusters are distinctive.
Media
Stand of switchgrass in a prairie in late summer
Species Types
Scientific Name
Panicum virgatum
Description
Switchgrass is a native perennial, warm-season, clump-forming mid or tall grass. In midsummer, delicate-looking, open, multiply-branching flowering clusters rise above the foliage.
Media
Timothy grass tufts with flowering stalks growing in an open area against a wooded background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Phleum pratense
Description
A native of Europe, Timothy is a common cool-season pasture grass and occurs in a wide variety of open or disturbed habitats. It is one of the worst causes of hay fever in the late spring and early summer.
Media
Curlytop ironweed flower cluster viewed from the side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vernonia arkansana
Description
Curlytop ironweed is one of Missouri’s five species of ironweeds. It’s easy to identify because of its tapering, curling, threadlike involucral bracts. Also, it is usually a smooth, hairless plant.
Media
Closeup of prairie ironweed flowerheads in bloom
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vernonia fasciculata
Description
Prairie, or smooth ironweed is one of Missouri’s five species of ironweeds. Mostly limited to northwestern Missouri, it’s a smooth or hairless plant. Verify your identification by noting characteristics of its flowerhead bracts.
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!