Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 6 of 6 results
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
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 horse nettle flowers and leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Solanum carolinense
Description
Horse nettle is a native perennial with spiny stems and leaves, white to purplish flowers, and toxic fruits that look like tiny yellow tomatoes. It does well in disturbed habitats, and many people consider it a weed.
Media
Photo of sensitive brier flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Mimosa quadrivalvis (also Schrankia nuttallii)
Description
Sensitive briar is a dainty-looking legume with delicate, twice-compound leaves and flower heads resembling magenta pom-poms. The long, tough stems are covered with tiny thorns that snag your feet as you walk.
Media
Photo of tall thistle plants with flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cirsium altissimum
Description
Tall thistle is a native thistle that can grow to be 10 feet tall! To identify it, notice its leaves, which are unlobed (though they may be wavy or have only shallow, broad lobes), are felty-hairy beneath, and have prickles only along the edges.
Media
Photo of soapweed, a type of yucca
Species Types
Scientific Name
Yucca smalliana, Y. glauca, and Y. arkansana
Description
Three species of yucca grow wild in Missouri. Spanish bayonet was introduced from the Southwest and has escaped from cultivation, but our two soapweeds are native.
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!