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Native Plants of Missouri

By Melissa Martin ; Updated September 21, 2017

The woodlands, prairies and hillsides of Missouri support a wide variety of wildflowers, grasses and shrubs. Growing these native plants in a home garden requires little effort once the plants are established. Native plants attract butterflies, birds, bees and other wildlife to feed and take shelter. Growing communities of native plants can also help fight the invasion of potentially threatening non-native species.

Cardinal Flower

Lobelia cardinalis, or cardinal flower, grows wild along streams and other wet areas across Missouri. Cardinal flowers feature leafy stems and spikes of red flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies in the summer. These plants grow up to 4 feet tall. Cardinal flowers tolerate sun but prefer partial shade. Plant cardinal flowers in nutrient-rich, wet soil. If planted in a dry location, the plant requires regular watering.

Missouri Primrose

Oenothera macrocarpa, commonly known as Missouri primrose or glade lily, features trailing stems and grayish green foliage. Large yellow flowers, reaching 4 inches wide, bloom in the spring and summer. The flowers open in the late afternoon for pollination. Missouri primrose tolerates drought and poor soil conditions but prefers full sun and well-draining soil.

Celandine Poppy

Stylophorum diphyllum, or celandine poppy, grows wild in the wooded valleys of Missouri. Clusters of yellow flowers appear atop leafy stalks in the spring. These plants reach up to 16 inches tall and prefer shaded areas of the garden and moist soil rich in organic matter. If the soil dries out or the plant receives too much sun, it will go dormant in the summer.

Prairie Blazing Star

Prairie blazing star, or Liatris pycnostachya, produces summer stalks of lilac flowers reaching up to 4 feet tall. The flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees and the seeds attract birds. This prairie plant prefers full sun and tolerates both wet and dry soil in spring and summer. In winter, it prefers dry soil conditions.

Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea, commonly known as purple coneflower, grows up to 36 inches tall and can be found growing in many of Missouri's open woodlands. Purple flowers similar to daisies appear in June and bloom through the summer, often attracting butterflies. In the home garden, plant coneflowers in full sun or light shade and moist, well-drained soil.

Little Bluestem

Schizachyrium scoparium, or little bluestem, is a clump-forming prairie grass that grows 26 inches tall and 12 inches wide. Bluish green leaves turn red or orange in the fall. Silvery seed heads remain on the plant throughout the winter, providing visual interest and shelter for wildlife. Choose a sunny location for little bluestem. It will tolerate wet or dry soil conditions.


Lindera benzoin, commonly called spicebush, grows wild along streams and forest edges. It can reach heights of 15 feet and features multiple stems. Clusters of greenish yellow flowers bloom in the early spring, and red berries appear in late summer. The oval light green leaves turn yellow in the fall, and the grayish brown bark provides winter interest. Spicebush will grow in either sun or shade and tolerates most soil types.


About the Author


Prior to pursuing writing full-time, Melissa Martin researched and edited books on teamwork and negotiation. She has worked as a ghostwriter for a number of websites and her current work appears on eHow.com, covering topics such as gardening, animals and the environment. She holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Iowa.