Field Guide

Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants

Showing 1 - 10 of 222 results
Media
Photo of eastern gama grass flowering plant
Species Types
Scientific Name
Tripsacum dactyloides
Description
Eastern gama grass is a native perennial bunch grass with flowering stalks up to 8 feet tall. The fingerlike seed heads have separate male and female florets. The seed-bearing, female florets are in the lower portion of each spike. It occurs statewide and is an important component of native prairies and glades.
Media
Photo of sideoats grama, closeup on floral spikes showing orange anthers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Bouteloua curtipendula
Description
Sideoats grama is a native perennial clump-forming grass with flowering stalks 1–3 feet tall. The oatlike seeds dangle uniformly in two rows on one side of the flattened stalk. It occurs nearly statewide.
Media
Photo of Japanese stiltgrass
Species Types
Scientific Name
Microstegium vimineum
Description
Japanese stiltgrass is an invasive annual grass with thin, pale green, lance-shaped leaves that are 3 inches long. It has spread to nearly every eastern U.S. state. It forms dense patches, displacing and outcompeting native species for nutrients and light.
Media
Photo of an ebony spleenwort plant growing among moss and fallen leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Asplenium platyneuron
Description
Ebony spleenwort is a common forest-floor fern with wiry, shiny, dark brown leaf stalks and a ladderlike series of dark green, narrowly oblong leaflets.
Media
Photo of purple cliff brake growing from a rock crevice, with a hand propping up one of the fronds
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pellaea atropurpurea
Description
Purple cliff brake is a fern that grows from crevices in limestone and dolomite rocks, or in rocky soils near them. Its leathery, blue-gray leaflets, which are oval to lance-shaped, make the fronds seem not very fernlike.
Media
Photo of lowland brittle fern fronds and fiddleheads growing in woods
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cystopteris protrusa (formerly C. fragilis var. protrusa)
Description
Lowland brittle fern, also called southern fragile fern, is an easily recognized species. It’s a common springtime sight in moist forest soils.
Media
Photo of a bracken fern leaf against a background of forest-floor leaf litter
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pteridium aquilinum
Description
Bracken is a fern found nearly worldwide. Its 2–3 times compound leaves are triangular in outline and arise singly from the underground creeping rhizome.
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
Western ironweed flowerhead in bloom
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vernonia baldwinii
Description
Ironweeds are tough, grayish-green, branching plants known for their fluffy-looking clusters of reddish-purple florets. They are a familiar sight on roadsides and pastures. Identify western ironweed by the bracts at the base of the flowerheads.
Media
Photo of fire pink flowers
Species Types
Scientific Name
Silene virginica
Description
Fire pink is a low, clump-forming perennial with many slender, spreading stems that are sticky from glandular hairs, with open clusters of bright red flowers. This showy native Missouri plant is growing in popularity among home gardeners.
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!