Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 111 results
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
American, or common boneset, flower clusters and upper stem leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eupatorium perfoliatum
Description
American, or common boneset has small, white flowerheads in flat-topped clusters at the top of the plant. The leaves are hairy, narrowly triangular, and in opposite pairs fused around the stem.
Media
American bugleweed blooming on Tucker Prairie
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lycopus americanus
Description
Not the showiest of wildflowers, American bugleweed will catch your eye with its interesting geometry. The narrow, toothed leaves are opposite on the stalks and occur at right angles to the pair below.
Media
Blue sage blooming at Runge Conservation Center
Species Types
Scientific Name
Salvia azurea
Description
Blue sage is easily identified by its wandlike clusters of sky-blue, two-lipped wildflowers. It blooms July–September in prairies, roadsides, and other open habitats.
Media
Bottlebrush grass flowerhead showing spikelets spreading away from main axis
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elymus hystrix
Description
Bottlebrush grass is a native perennial, tuft-forming wild rye that typically grows in woodlands. The widely spaced spikelets spread away at a right angle from the main flowering stem.
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.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bromus pubescens (formerly B. purgans)
Description
Several species of brome grasses are found in Missouri. Canada brome, or hairy woodland brome, is one of the few that are native. It grows to 4 feet high, and its open flower clusters have drooping spikelets.
Media
Canada wild rye seed heads in late season, showing drooping habit and curling awns
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elymus canadensis
Description
Canada wild rye can be identified by its bristly seed heads, which curve downward. As the seeds mature, the straight, long awns curve and bend. This is a common native cool-season grass that reaches about 4 feet tall and is highly valued as forage and hay for livestock.
Media
Photo of Carolina false dandelion flowerhead.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pyrrhopappus carolinianus
Description
One of several native plants called dandelions, Carolina false dandelion is an annual with sulphur yellow flowers and puffy seedheads.
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!
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!