Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 25 results
Media
Bur cucumber flowers and foliage
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sicyos angulatus
Description
Bur cucumber is a nonwoody, annual vine common in low, moist soils. It can spread across an area 20 feet wide, covering the ground and nearby shrubs. Note its lobed, gourd-family leaves, curly green tendrils, clusters of prickly, green, oval fruits, and 5-lobed, cream-colored flowers.
Media
Photo of butterfly pea plant with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Clitoria mariana
Description
Butterfly pea is a low, shrubby, or twining perennial in the pea family, with showy, butterfly-like flowers. The leaves are compound with three leaflets. This species grows in the southern parts of Missouri, in acid soils.
Media
Photo of Chinese yam showing leaves and bulbils
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dioscorea oppositifolia (sometimes called D. batatas)
Description
Similar to kudzu, Chinese yam is an aggressive vine that overtakes nearly everything within reach that stands still long enough! Learn more about this invasive plant — and please don’t plant it!
Media
Photo of cleavers flower cluster with developing fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Galium aparine
Description
The tiny white flowers of this native plant are not very memorable, but the curious, sticky-feeling whorls of narrow leaves and lightweight, 4-sided stems make cleavers unique. And then there’s the tiny, round, “Velcro” covered balls of the seeds, which “stick tight” to your socks!
Media
Photo of climbing false buckwheat vines, leaves, and flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Fallopia scandens (formerly Polygonum scandens)
Description
Climbing false buckwheat is a rampant annual or perennial climber that often forms curtainlike masses of twining red stems, covering shrubs and trees. Look for it in moist, open or shaded bottomlands, alluvial valleys, and floodplains.
Media
Photo of climbing milkweed flowers and leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Matelea decipiens
Description
The brown, starlike, spreading flowers of climbing milkweed differ from those of other milkweeds, but milky sap, warty pods with silk-tasseled seeds, and the structures in the center of the flowers show its true alliance.
Media
Photo of common dayflower flower and buds.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Commelina communis
Description
The flowers of dayflower are truly blue, and they have only two conspicuous petals. A fast-growing, sprawling, but shallow-rooted weed, this introduced species commonly annoys gardeners.
Media
Photo of coontail aquatic plant with penny for scale
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ceratophyllum demersum
Description
Coontail, a common submerged aquatic plant, got its name from the crowded upper leaves, which make the stem tip appear bushy like the tail of a raccoon.
Media
Photo of crown vetch, closeup of a flower cluster.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Securigera varia (formerly Coronilla varia)
Description
In summer, you’re almost guaranteed to see big colonies of crown vetch along Missouri's highways. This weedy nonnative plant stabilizes the dirt after road construction but degrades our natural ecosystems.
Media
Rope dodder stems
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cuscuta spp.
Description
Dodders are easy to identify, even though at first you might not recognize them as plants. These parasitic plants usually look like a hairlike mass of yellow or orange, leafless, wiry, vining stems wrapping around the stems of other plants.
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!