Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 216 results
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 poverty grass clump amid fallen autumn leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Danthonia spicata
Description
A common sight in dry upland Ozark woods, poverty grass is a species you can identify by its leaves alone. The basal leaves persist for several years, becoming dry and curly. Although the flowering stems can be 2 feet high, the basal leaves are only about 5 inches long.
Media
Mature prairie dropseed backlit in prairie
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sporobolus heterolepis
Description
Prairie dropseed is a native perennial bunch grass that forms dense clumps of fine, light green, arching leaves. The seed heads are airy, open, branching clusters bearing small, ovate florets on their own individual branchlets.
Media
Stand of switchgrass in a prairie in late summer
Species Types
Scientific Name
Panicum virgatum
Description
Switchgrass is a native perennial, warm-season, clump-forming mid or tall grass. In midsummer, delicate-looking, open, multiply-branching flowering clusters rise above the foliage.
Media
Curlytop ironweed flower cluster viewed from the side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vernonia arkansana
Description
Curlytop ironweed is one of Missouri’s five species of ironweeds. It’s easy to identify because of its tapering, curling, threadlike involucral bracts. Also, it is usually a smooth, hairless plant.
Media
Common ragweed leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ambrosia artemisiifolia
Description
Common ragweed is instantly recognizable by its ornate, 2–3 times pinnately lobed, hairy leaves. You’ve probably seen it many times and wondered what it was.
Media
Sweet everlasting plant blooming in a prairie, showing white upper stem branches
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (syn. Gnaphalium obtusifolium)
Description
Sweet everlasting, or old field balsam, catches your eye with its clusters of white, peg-shaped flowerheads and white branches that contrast with the narrow green leaves. It occurs statewide, in a variety of open, sunny habitats.
Media
Top of a prairie blazing star’s floral spike, with the sky and prairie visible in the background
Species Types
Scientific Name
Liatris spp.
Description
Missouri boasts nine native species of blazing stars, or gayfeathers, in genus Liatris. These showy, upright, unbranching spikes of magenta-pink wildflowers bloom in sunny habitats.
Media
Cylindrical blazing star, top of blooming plant showing 3 flowerheads
Species Types
Scientific Name
Liatris cylindracea
Description
Cylindrical blazing star is one of several Missouri native species of blazing stars, or gayfeathers. It is widely scattered in the Ozarks and eastern Missouri. Identify it by its bracts, which are pressed against the base of the flowerhead, accentuating its cylindrical look.
Media
Late boneset plant in bloom, vertical image
Species Types
Scientific Name
Eupatorium serotinum
Description
Late boneset, or late-flowering thoroughwort, is a native perennial wildflower with clusters of white, fuzzy-looking flowers. It’s one of nine similar-looking species of thoroughworts in Missouri.
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!