Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 24 results
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
Photo of white snakeroot leaves and flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ageratina altissima (formerly Eupatorium rugosum)
Description
White snakeroot looks very similar to thoroughworts, but it has triangular leaf blades that are more broadly angled or rounded at the base. White snakeroot is common statewide. It’s a toxic plant if eaten, so it’s good to be able to identify it.
Media
Green dragon plant in bloom along Katy Trail east of Portland Mo
Species Types
Scientific Name
Arisaema dracontium
Description
What could be cooler than finding a green dragon? This leafy green plant with a long, noodly spadix is closely related to Jack-in-the-pulpit. It occurs in the same habitats but is less common and easily overlooked.
Media
Photo of dwarf larkspur flowers with leaf
Species Types
Scientific Name
Delphinium tricorne
Description
Dwarf larkspur is a single-stemmed perennial with an upright flower stalk bearing racemes of bluish-purple flowers. Like other larkspurs, there is a spurlike appendage behind each flower.
Media
Photo of Carolina larkspur plants with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Delphinium carolinianum
Description
Small blue, lavender, or white flowers shaped like cornucopias dance along the tall stems of this Carolina larkspur, which grows in prairies and grasslands.
Media
Photo of soapwort plants and flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Saponaria officinalis
Description
Soapwort is a tall, showy wildflower that has chemicals in its sap that lather up like soap. Native to Eurasia, it has been introduced worldwide and is a common roadside wildflower.
Media
Photo of Indian hemp plant
Species Types
Scientific Name
Apocynum cannabinum
Description
Indian hemp is a shrubby, upright perennial with opposite branches and milky sap. This native plant can be a troublesome weed in crop fields and gardens, but Native Americans used its tough, fibrous stems for rope-making.
Media
Photo of leafy spurge seed heads
Species Types
Scientific Name
Euphorbia esula
Description
When you consider the negative effects this plant has on natural habitats, and how hard it is to control or eradicate, you almost want to rename it “leafy scourge”! This invasive plant is spreading in our state. Learn how to identify it.
Media
Photo of southern blue flag iris plants with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Iris virginica
Description
Ten species of iris grow wild in our state, but only four of them are native. Of our native irises, this one is the most common. But drainage “improvements” are eliminating the habitat of this beautiful wetland wildflower.
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.
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!