Kentucky plants that grow in the wild are referred to as wildflowers, which mean that the plants grow without cultivation by humans. When identifying plants in Kentucky, you divide the plants into naturalized, introduced and native plants to Kentucky. In Kentucky, there are many plants that are native to the state, which grow wild throughout the year.
Yellow Lady’s Slipper
The lady’s slipper is in the orchid family. The plant is a perennial recognized by the large pouch that grows beyond the two petals on the stem that grows about 14 inches tall. The lady’s slipper has three to five oval-shaped leaves with yellow pouch-shaped flowers. The pouch attracts insects with an enticing odor and traps the insects with the tiny hairs, which forces the insects to pollinate the flower when trying to escape by touching the stigma. The plant is on the endangered list in Kentucky.
The goldenrod is a perennial that grows around the meadows, flats and hills of Kentucky. The goldenrod can reach heights of 7 feet. In 1926, the goldenrod was adapted as the state flower. The plant has tall stems with green leaves with a cluster of tiny yellow flowers at the top of the branch that blooms in the fall.
Fire Pink (Catch Fly)
The herbaceous fire pink or catch fly is native to Kentucky. The plant gets its name “Catch Fly” because of the sticky foliage that causes insects to stick to it. At the end of the green stems, the plant has bright red flowers with five petals resembling a starfish shape. The fire pink can grow to 12 inches tall and blooms from April to June.
The squirrel’s corn is a perennial that has green foliage and hanging flowers with two white petal pods with yellowish fins on one side making the flower look like a butterfly that has landed. The squirrel’s corn and the Dutchman’s breeches look similar and are found growing together in the wild, making it hard to tell the two apart. The plant grows to a height of 6 inches with thick green foliage surrounding the flowers.
The pennyroyal is a native Kentucky herb that has an intense mint smell. The herb plant grows to about 12 inches tall with light blue flowers that bloom in summer. The oil of the pennyroyal is quite toxic to humans, but parts of the plant have been used in folk medicine. At one time, the pennyroyal grew in abundance in the western part of Kentucky.