Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie

This collection profiles wildflowers of the tallgrass prairie. Stretching over 250 million acres, the tallgrass prairie was once the largest ecosystem in the United States. Its deep rich soils made excellent farmland. By 1860, most of the tallgrass prairies had fallen to the plow. Today, only about one million acres remain, making tallgrass prairie one of the most threatened natural communities. Native grasses form the prairie framework, comprising 50 to 95 percent of the vegetation. The four dominant species in the tallgrass prairie are little bluestem, big bluestem, Indiangrass, and switchgrass. Forbs (broadleaf herbs), an integral part of the prairie, provide most of the species diversity. Most prairie species are perennials that die back in the winter. The wildflowers included in this collection are some of the most common tallgrass prairie species.


Scientific Name Common Name Duration Habit Sun Water
Amorpha fruticosa Indigo bush, False indigo bush, False indigo, Desert false indigo Perennial Shrub Sun, Part-shade Moist
Anaphalis margaritacea Western pearly everlasting, Pearly-everlasting Perennial Herb Sun, Part-shade Dry
Anemone canadensis Canadian anemone, Round-leaf thimbleweed, Canada anemone, Windflower, Meadow anemone Perennial Herb Shade, Part-shade Moist
Asclepias tuberosa Butterflyweed, Butterfly milkweed, Orange milkweed, Pleurisy root, Chigger flower Perennial Herb Sun, Part-shade Moist, Dry
Baptisia bracteata var. leucophaea Longbract wild indigo, Cream false indigo, Plains wild indigo, Cream wild indigo, Large-bracted wild indigo Perennial Herb Part-shade Moist
Castilleja sessiliflora Downy painted cup, Downy paintbrush, Great Plains paintbrush, Great Plains indian-paintbrush Perennial Herb Sun Dry
Coreopsis palmata Stiff tickseed, Stiff coreopsis, Finger coreopsis Perennial Herb Part-shade
Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens Carolina larkspur, Prairie larkspur, Plains larkspur Perennial Herb Sun Moist
Eryngium yuccifolium Button eryngo, Button snakeroot, Rattlesnake master, Beargrass, Bear's grass Perennial Herb Sun Moist
Euphorbia marginata Snow on the mountain, Snow-on-the-mountain Annual Herb Part-shade Moist
Eustoma exaltatum ssp. russellianum Texas bluebells, Texas bluebell, Bluebell, Showy prairie gentian, Prairie gentian Annual, Biennial, Perennial Herb Sun Moist
Gaillardia pulchella Firewheel, Indian Blanket Annual Herb Sun, Part-shade Dry
Glandularia canadensis Rose vervain, Sweet william, Rose mock vervain Perennial Herb Part-shade Moist
Helianthus maximiliani Maximilian sunflower, Max sunflower Perennial Herb Sun Moist, Dry
Iris versicolor Harlequin blueflag, Northern blue flag, Large blue iris Perennial Herb Sun, Part-shade Wet, Moist
Lilium philadelphicum Wood lily Perennial Herb Sun, Shade, Part-shade Dry
Linum sulcatum Grooved flax, Yellow prairie flax Annual Herb
Lithospermum canescens Hoary puccoon Perennial Herb Sun, Shade, Part-shade Dry
Monarda fistulosa Wild bergamot, Beebalm Perennial Herb Sun, Part-shade Moist, Dry
Oenothera biennis Common evening-primrose, King's cure-all Biennial Herb Sun, Shade, Part-shade Dry
Penstemon albidus White penstemon, White beardtongue, Red-line penstemon, Red-line beardtongue Perennial Herb Sun
Phlox pilosa Downy phlox, Prairie phlox, Fragrant phlox Perennial Herb Sun, Part-shade Dry
Pulsatilla patens Eastern pasqueflower, American Pasqueflower Perennial Herb Sun Dry
Ratibida pinnata Pinnate prairie coneflower, Grayhead Mexican hat, Yellow coneflower, Grayhead coneflower Perennial Herb Sun, Part-shade Moist, Dry
Rudbeckia hirta Black-eyed Susan, Common black-eyed Susan, Brown-eyed Susan Annual Herb Sun, Shade, Part-shade Moist, Dry
Silphium laciniatum Compassplant, Compass plant Perennial Herb Sun Dry
Sisyrinchium angustifolium Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass, Narrow-leaf blue-eyed-grass, Bermuda blue-eyed grass, Blue-eyed grass Perennial Herb Sun, Part-shade Wet, Moist
Tradescantia ohiensis Bluejacket, Ohio spiderwort Perennial Herb Part-shade Dry
Vernonia baldwinii Baldwin's ironweed, Western Ironweed, Ironweed Perennial Herb Sun Moist
Viola pedatifida Prairie violet, Purple prairie violet, Larkspur violet, Crow-foot violet, Coastal violet Perennial Herb Sun Moist