Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 27 results
Media
Photo of buffalo bur flower and leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Solanum rostratum
Description
A spiny annual with bright yellow flowers and dandelion-like leaves, buffalo bur is an introduced member of the nightshade family.
Media
Buffalo grass with male flowering stalks
Species Types
Scientific Name
Buchloe dactyloides
Description
Buffalo grass is a native perennial warm-season short grass that creeps widely by runners and forms dense mats. As a native, it occurs in the prairies in far northwest Missouri, but it now occurs elsewhere in the state and has become popular as a lawn grass.
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
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 Canada thistle flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cirsium arvense
Description
Canada thistle is a native to Eurasia and arrived on our continent probably before the Revolutionary War — most likely mixed in agricultural seed. A bad weed of crop fields and rangeland farther north, it causes problems in Missouri, too.
Media
Photo of chara, an alga with stemlike and leaflike structures
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chara spp.
Description
These aquatic algae look like regular vascular plants. Chara has a crisp, gritty texture, a musky odor, and gray-green, needlelike structures that resemble leaves.
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
Species Types
Scientific Name
Xanthium strumarium
Description
Common cocklebur occurs statewide in open, disturbed, lowland habitats. It is a common weed in crop fields. It has wide, rough, coarsely toothed leaves; stout, often purple-speckled stems; and characteristic burs with hooked spines.
Media
Photo of common jimsonweed flower
Species Types
Scientific Name
Datura stramonium
Description
Pretty but poisonous, jimsonweed has white goblet-shaped flowers that open around midnight. This native of tropical America was introduced nearly throughout the United States and thrives in disturbed soils.
Media
Sunflowers at Columbia Bottom Conservation Area
Species Types
Scientific Name
Helianthus annuus
Description
Whether you see the wild form or any of the many cultivated varieties, this poster child of the sunflower family cultivates its own sunny impression. Common sunflower is also the state flower of Kansas.
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!