A Guide to Missouri Wildflowers

Spring is the season of renewal. Breezes are soft and warm. Tiny leaves emerging from awakening trees are a green you only see in this season. Bird song is at full volume. It’s the best time to explore Missouri’s outdoors – especially her forests.

With the bluebird sky you’ve waited for all winter, Missouri’s state tree – the dogwood – in glorious bloom and redbuds splashing color all over the woods, it’s tempting to spend your hike looking up. But, oh, the beauty you’ll miss!

In April, you’ll find most of the early shy blossoms nestled on the woodland floor, soaking up the sunshine that won’t reach them once the oaks and hickories leaf out. (As you search, keep an eye out for delicious morel mushrooms, too.)

Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks.
Photo courtesy of Missouri State Parks.

Many early spring wildflowers are delicate shades of white: dogtooth violets, Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauty, white trillium and violets (which come in both white and blue varieties).

There are the blues and purples: spiderwort (one of my favorites), wild sweet William and Jacob’s ladders. Pink-ish wild geraniums are a find

If you’re not lucky enough to have your own woods, the Show-Me State offers many public lands where native wildflowers thrive. Check out the Mark Twain National Forest, any nearby state park or conservation area, along the banks of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, near nature center hiking trails and anywhere off the beaten path in your local parks.

As one month moves into the next, you’ll discover different varieties of wildflowers in different habitats – all of which Missouri offers in abundance. In addition to forests, be sure to explore our glades (also known as “balds” in the Ozarks), prairies and wetlands.  Highway medians in some parts of the state and even many golf courses encourage low-maintenance wildflowers and native grasses.

They’re even found in other not-so-wild places. My garden is filled with Sweet William and celandine poppy. The sweetest bouquet I ever received was gathered roadside. I nearly bought a piece of suburban property just because I found Dutchman’s breeches in bloom. Yes, I love wildflowers … and Missouri has a lot to love.

Lace up your boots. It’s time to go for a walk in the woods … and enjoy Mother Nature’s show.

To help you identify all your finds, there’s a great Missouri Wildflower Guide available on line.

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