Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 252 results
Media
Photo of Adam and Eve orchid flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Aplectrum hyemale
Description
Adam and Eve orchid is noticeable on winter woodland hikes. It is a green-and-white-striped, pleated leaf lying flat upon the dead leaves on the forest floor. Check back in May to see its flowers!
Media
Photo of an Engelmann’s adder’s tongue with a black background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ophioglossum spp.
Description
Four species of adder’s tongue ferns occur in Missouri. They don’t look like typical ferns. They have spoon-shaped leaves and an upright spore-bearing stalk.
Media
Photo of lotus in pool at Duck Creek CA
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nelumbo lutea
Description
American lotus is an aquatic plant with circular leaves that are held above water. The large yellow flowers have an interesting showerhead-like disk at the center.
Media
Photo of American water willow closeup on flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Justicia americana
Description
American water willow is common on gravel bars and other stream banks throughout much of Missouri. The dense colonies of emergent stems have leaves like a willow’s, but the two-lipped flowers resemble little orchids.
Media
Arrowhead plant showing leaves and flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sagittaria spp.
Description
Arrowheads are aquatic plants with erect, usually arrow-shaped leaves and distinctive three-petaled flowers. They are often called duck potatoes because ducks, geese, and swans relish the tuberlike rootstocks.
Media
Photo of autumn sneezeweed flowerheads, closeup.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Helenium autumnale
Description
Autumn sneezeweed is a late-blooming perennial with conspicuously winged stems. The flowerheads have yellow, domed disks. The ray flowers are fan-shaped, yellow, and notched.
Media
Photo of bastard toadflax plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Comandra umbellata (formerly C. richardsiana)
Description
Bastard, or false toadflax is one of the hundreds of wildflowers that bejewel our native prairies. A perennial herb with yellowish-green foliage and smooth, upright stems, it grows and flowers under the hottest conditions.
Media
Photo of beaked hawkweed flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hieracium gronovii
Description
A native wildflower of forests, blufftops, glades, pastures, and roadsides, beaked hawkweed looks something like a hairy, yellow-flowering chicory. It is found mostly south of the Missouri River.
Media
Photo of prairie showing big bluestem leaves and flowering stalks
Species Types
Scientific Name
Andropogon gerardii
Description
Every Missourian should know big bluestem. It is the most famous of our native prairie grasses. The seed head of this tall grass branches into three parts, resembling a turkey’s foot.
Media
Photo of bird's-foot trefoil, close-up of flower cluster.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lotus corniculatus
Description
Bird’s-foot trefoil forms low patches of bright yellow flowers along roadsides, having been planted to stabilize soil after road construction. Up close, it clearly has pea flowers. The leaves are cloverlike, with two leafy stipules at the base of each.
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!