Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 16 results
Media
Photo of smooth spiderwort flowers being visited by beelike syrphid flies
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tradescantia ohiensis
Description
Smooth spiderwort is the most common and widely distributed of Missouri's spiderworts. It has slender, straight or zigzag stems. The long, narrow leaves are folded lengthwise and attach to the stem in a thick node. The 3 petals of the triangular flower are blue, rose, purple, lavender, or white.
Media
Photo of shepherd’s purse plant and flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Capsella bursa-pastoris
Description
Shepherd’s purse is a plant that started in Europe and western Asia and has been introduced nearly worldwide. Like the common dandelion, it has several adaptations that make it a successful colonizer of disturbed soil.
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 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
Photo of corn salad plant flower clusters showing arrangement of buds.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Valerianella radiata
Description
At first glance, you might overlook corn salad, except for the large colonies it often forms. The young leaves can be eaten as a salad green, hence the name.
Media
Photo of garlic mustard plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Alliaria petiolata
Description
Because each plant disperses a large number of seeds, garlic mustard can outcompete native vegetation for light, moisture, nutrients, soil, and space as it quickly colonizes an area.
Media
Photo of pink wild onion flower clusters
Species Types
Scientific Name
Allium stellatum
Description
Wild onion is edible and is also favored by native-plant gardeners, who enjoy its showy umbels of pink flowers and tolerance of dry, rocky sites. This Ozark species blooms in summer and fall.
Media
Photo of a bull thistle flowerhead.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cirsium vulgare
Description
Bull thistle is a weedy introduction from Europe, found statewide. To tell it from our other thistles, note its stems with spiny-margined wings, and its leaves with the upper surface strongly roughened with stiff, spiny bristles.
Media
Photo of Solomon’s seal flowers and leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Polygonatum biflorum
Description
Solomon's seal grows statewide in moist, rich earth. The greenish-white flowers dangle like little bells beneath the leaves, under the gracefully arching stems.
Media
Photo of Ohio horsemint inflorescence
Species Types
Scientific Name
Blephilia ciliata
Description
Square, unbranching stems, opposite leaves, two-lipped flowers, and a mild minty fragrance are clues Ohio horsemint is in the mint family. Tight, rounded flower clusters are stacked atop one another at the stem tips.
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!