The Flora Forum

Prairie Dropseed

Family:  Poaceae Scientific Name:  Sporobolus heterolepis This perennial prairie grass is native to the Central and Eastern United States and Canada.  It requires full sun and prefers well-drained soils.  For that reason, it’s also extremely drought-tolerant.  Prairie Dropseed occurs commonly in prairies and along roads and gets its name from the tiny rounded seeds which drop to…  Read More

Queen Of The Prairie

Family:  Rosaceae Scientific Name: Filipendula rubra Queen of the Prairie is a rare, native perennial that favors high quality habitat.  Named filum for “thread” and pendulus for “hanging”, this plant’s name refers to some species’ small tubers strung together by fibrous roots.  It thrives in full sun, wet to moderate moisture, and sandy to loamy soil and is often seen…  Read More

Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle

Family:  Caprifoliaceae Scientific Name: Diervilla lonicera A fast-growing deciduous shrub, the Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle is insensitive to changes in light and is found in woody, shaded sites as well as exposed, rocky sites.  It grows well in sandy, dry, and slightly acidic soils.  It is often found growing among Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) and Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea). …  Read More

Oxeye Sunflower

Family:  Asteraceae Scientific Name: Heliopsis helianthoides A native perennial in Minnesota, most often found in full sunlight and dry to moderate soil conditions in prairies, roadsides, edges of fields and open woods.  It is a vigorously growing plant, and considered a weed by some. Watch for: Opposite leaves with coarsely serrated margins with leaf blades that vary…  Read More

Ohio Spiderwort

Family: Commelinaceae Scientific Name: Tradescantia ohiensis Native early summer perennial favoring slightly dry to moist habitats.  Often found along the south side of ditches, in prairies and in meadows. Watch for: Thick, round stem, about 2-4 feet tall with long, linear leaves up to 15″.  The flowers bloom from May-July, are light to blue violet and…  Read More


Family: Poaceae (Grasses) Scientific Name: Panicum virgatum Native warm season perennial grass favoring dry to moist habitats, especially along shores, but occurs naturally on prairies, oak and pine woodlands, and in marshes as well. Watch for: Coarse, tall grass up to 6.5 feet that grows in clumps and a beige inflorescence flower from July to…  Read More

Blue Flag Iris

Family: Iridaceae Scientific Name: Iris versicolor Native emergent summer perennial favoring marshes, wet meadows, forested wetlands and shorelines. Watch for:  Large blue to blue-violet showy flowers from May to July.  Flowers often contain some yellow, green or white coloring. Leaves are long, thin, pointed and fold down the middle. Other names: Harlequin Blue Flag, Blue Flag and Northern…  Read More

Wild Columbine

Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family) Scientific Name: Aquilegia canadensis Native and hardy early spring perennial which favors a variety of habitats including dry or even low woodlands, meadows, roadsides, peat bogs and bluffs Watch for: Red and yellow downward facing flowers which have a tubular shape.  Inside petals are yellow and outward sepals are red.  Compound leaves are…  Read More

Compass Plant

Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower) Scientific Name: Silphium laciniatum Course, hairy perennial herb with large woody root stocks, 3 to 10 ft tall, usually with a single, unbranched stem. Likes open prairies, and roadsides in areas of mild disturbance. Watch for: Yellow, bell-shaped ray flowers in high numbers on the plant. Leaves are coursely toothed, alternate, and resemble narrow strips or…  Read More

Culver’s Root

Family: Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) Scientific Name: Veronicastrum virginicum Native, colonizing wildflower from 3-6′ tall that grows in rich woods and moist prairies. Has a central taproot as well as underground running rhizome roots. Watch for: Toothed, lance-shaped leaves, 3 to 7 whorled leaves per node, white  or pale pink flowers in dense spikes at the ends…  Read More

Prairie Smoke

Family: Rosaceae (Rose) Scientific Name: Geum triflorum Native Early Spring perennial favoring sunny, dry fields, prairies and open woodlands Watch for: Bunches of red/pink flowers bursting into a fuzz-like “smoke”. Leaves divided into 7 or more leaflets, with hairy notches at the tips. Stem also hairy and reddish brown. Other names: Old Man’s Whiskers, Three-flowered Avens,…  Read More

Fox Sedge

Family: Cyperaceae (Sedge) Family Scientific Name: Carex vulpinoidea  Native cool-season perennial sedge that grows up to 3 ft high. Grows in wet, moist meadows, marshes, lake shores, stream sides, and road sides. Watch for: Dense clumps of sedges with a brown seed head that resembles a fox’s tail. Blooms May to July. Leaves are generally…  Read More

Asters: Purple Dome/ New England

Family: Asteraceae Scientific Name: Aster novae-angliae As a prime example of a native plant which is highly cultivated, this entry will look at both. New England Aster is a very common and native perennial herb which favors upland moist to saturated conditions. Purple Dome Aster is a close cultivar of it’s New England predecessor, but…  Read More


Family: Asteracea (Sunflower) Scientific name: Eupatorium perfoliatum Native perennial wildflower from 2-4 ft tall. Prefers low, moist to wet soils with plenty of organic material, with full to partial sun. Watch for: The stem is covered with white hairs and forms branches at the top. Leaves are opposite along the stem and tend to grow…  Read More

Purple Coneflower

Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower) Scientific Name: Echinacea angustifolia  Perennial herb up to 2 ft tall, established predominately on the great plains, in dry upland prairies, often in rocky soil. Watch for: Long, alternate leaves and a large cone-shaped flower with ray petals. Center crowns of flower large and circular, similar to Black-eyed Susans. Other names: Comb Flower, Snakeroot, Kansas Snakeroot, Scurvy…  Read More


Family: Asteraceae (Aster) Scientific Name: Helenium autumnale  Native perennial herb that grows on low-lying, moist prairies and other open spaces throughout the United States and Canada. Watch for: Alternate, lance-shaped to elliptic leaves. Flower clusters at the ends of branches have yellow, wedge-shaped petals with three “teeth” on the ends. Other names: Common Sneezeweed, Large-flowered…  Read More


Family:  Asteraceae (Aster) Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium  Perennial herb introduced with genotypes that are both native and introduced. Common in disturbed areas and open forests in the US, spread across all Northern continents. Watch for: Lance-shaped leaves finely divided, resembling a fern. White flowers have four petals, forming a dome shape in a cluster at…  Read More

Butterfly Milkweed

Family: Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed) Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa Perennial herb found on roadways, abandoned farmlands, open woodlands, and prairies. Sandy, loamy, or rocky limestone soils. Watch for: Lance-shaped alternate leaves smooth above and velvet beneath. Flowers are a showy orange, with 5 petals which together form a rounded group on the top. Usually the flash of…  Read More

Blazing Star

Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower) Scientific Name: Liatris punctata  Perennial herb of prairies and native pastures. Dry, course soils. Watch for: Purple star-shaped flowers arranged in spikelike groups at the ends of stems. Leaves dotted and narrow, up to 15 cm long, closely spaced and arching upward, with a solid smooth feel. 1/4′ to 2 3/4′ tall. Other names:…  Read More

Big Blue Stem

Family: Poacaea (Grass) Scientific Name: Andropogon Gerardii Prairies (clay, black soil, sand), savannas, grassy fens (wetlands),  well-managed native pastures, roadsides. The most common grass of the native tall grass prairie. Pre-colonial settlement, Big Blue Stem once covered a massive range from Maine to the Rocky Mountains, from Quebec to Mexico. Watch for: Long, hairy and…  Read More


Family: Lamiaceae (Mint) Family Scientific name: Monarda fistulosa Grows on prairie hillsides, pastures, roadsides, stream banks, and occasionally in open woods. Usually in rocky soil. Perennial herb. Watch for: Purple flower, leaves simple, opposite and lance-shaped.  Fragrant, lower surfaces hairy, with square stem. Other names: Wild Bergamont, Oswego Tea (Lake Oswego, Oregon), Long-flowered Horsemint, Fern Mint.  History: Beebalm…  Read More