Prairie Nature Center Wildflowers

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Learn more about the wildflowers that grow on the Prairie Nature Center. Explore the beautiful pictures then click on the common name once to find out more information about each species of wildflowers. Click on the common name a second time to close the information window. Find out more about the other types of plants on the prairie: grasses and other plants.

Black-eyed Susan
Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta Blooms: June, July, August, September, October

Black-eyed Susan is covered with brilliant yellow flowers with jet-black centers for up to three months in summer and fall, often right up to the first hard frost. Grows two-to-five feet tall. This plant is a favorite of many home gardeners.

Butterfly-weed
Butterfly-weed

Asclepias tuberosa Blooms: June, July, August, September

A striking prairie wildflower, the brilliant orange flowers appear during the heat of summer from late June through August. True to its name, Butterflyweed attracts legions of butterflies.  This true milkweed lacks milky sap; instead, it produces a clear sap.  The species name, tuberosa, refers to its large taproot, which makes it nearly impossible to transplant.  The Monarch Butterfly uses it as an important food source.

Closed Gentain
Bottle Gentain

Gentiana andrewsii Blooms: August, September, October

The deep bluish purple flowers of Bottle Gentian never fully open, giving them their characteristic bottle-like appearance. Its  shape prevents all but the largest insects from entering.  Bumblebees force themselves inside by pushing the petals apart.  One of the last plants to bloom in fall, it grows one-to-two feet tall.

Canada Goldenrod
Canada Goldenrod

Solidago canadensis Blooms: July, August, September

Cardinal Flower
Cardinal Flower

Lobelia cardinalis Blooms: July, August, September

Common Milkweed
Common Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca Blooms: June, July, August

Common Milkweed grows two-to-four feet tall and produces a profusion of sweet-scented mauve flowers clustered together in domed groups in mid-summer. Monarch caterpillars feast on the leaves, become butterflies and migrate to Mexico for the winter. The caterpillars ingest the toxic sap of the milkweed plants with no ill effects.  The Monarch butterflies then have a toxic defense against predators like birds.  The seed pods of Common Milkweed are gray and warty but when they break open they reveal seeds attached to silky fluffs which help carry the seeds on the wind.

Culver's-root
Culver's-root

Veronicastrum virginicum Blooms: June, July, August, September

Culver's Root features tiny white flowers in dense clusters on tapering spikes.  The plant grows three-to-six feet tall.  The fragrant blooms appear in July and August.  The plant spreads by underground stems (rhizomes) and its leaves are long and pointed with sawtoothed edges.

Cupplant
Cup plant

Silphium perfoliatum Blooms: July, August, September

The large leaves of Cup Plant clasp the square stems to form little cups, hence its name. These cups catch and store rainwater, often for many days. Birds and butterflies come for a drink and hummingbirds regularly visit these plants. In fall, goldfinches descend upon the plants to devour the large seeds.

Dense Blazing-star
Dense Blazing-star

Liatris spicata Blooms: July, August, September

Dense Blazing Star features bold purple flower clusters on tall spikes.  The flowers are very attractive to butterflies and moths.  The fluffy flowers bloom from top to bottom on the spikes which can reach six feet tall.  Blooms burst forth in July and last into September. 

Early Goldenrod
Early Goldenrod

Solidago juncea Blooms: July, August, September

The easiest of the goldenrods to identify, as it is the first of the goldenrods to bloom each spring.  This plant grows to three feet tall with numerous yellow flowers.  Blooms appear mid to late summer and last about a month and half. 

False White Indigo
False White Indigo

Baptisia leucantha Blooms: May, June, July

False White Indigo looks more like a shrub than a typical prairie plant.  It grows into a nice round bushy shape up to four feet tall and is nearly as wide.  Towering above the foliage are spikes of creamy-white flowers. After the flowers fade, large dark seed pods appear, an indication of its membership to the legume family. 

Flowering Spurge
Flowering Spurge

Euphorbia corollata Blooms: June, July, August, September, October

Flowering Spurge can grow up to three feet tall and has very tiny flowers.  The five white petal-like structures surrounding the flowers are not petals at all, but actually modified leaves.  The flower is the tiny yellow center portion which blooms in July and August.  The stems are slender and smooth. 

Foxglove Beardtongue
Foxglove Beardtongue

Penstemon digitalis Blooms:May, June, July

The long-blooming, pure white flowers of Foxglove Beardstongue appear in June and continue well into midsummer. Reaching two-to-three feet tall, the three-lobed lower portion of the flower acts as a landing pad for  insects.  As they crawl inside for a sip of nectar they inadvertently pollinate the flower. The flower petals give way to dark brown seed pods that must be crusted to release the seed.

Field Thistle
Field Thistle

Cirsium discolor Blooms: July, August, September, October

Gray-headed Coneflower
Gray-headed Coneflower

Ratibida pinnata Blooms: June, July, August, September

One of the most striking of the prairie flowers, with bright yellow petals set against gray centers. Growing three-to-six feet tall Grey-headed Coneflower's tall, thin, hairy stems support yellow flowers with droopy petals.  The cone dries to a light gray color after pollination and smells strongly of lemon when crushed.

Great Lobelia
Great Lobelia

Lobelia siphilitica Blooms: August, September

Great Lobelia is a showy perennial that grows to 2 to 3 feet tall and its upper stems produce lavender-blue, tubular flowers. The flowers are split into two lips – the upper lip has two segments and the lower lip has three. The blooms open during the late summer.  Great Lobelia typically grows in moist to wet locations along streams, ponds, and in low wooded areas.

Green-headed Coneflower
Green-headed Coneflower

Rudbeckia laciniata Blooms: July, August, September

The statuesque Green Headed Coneflower stands above its coneflower relatives.  Unusual green-centered flowers are surrounded by bright yellow petals, on five-to-eight foot stems. Drooping yellow petals will help with identifying this large plant.

Large Blazing-star
Large Blazing-star

Liatris scariosa Blooms: July, August, September

Large Blazing Star can reach up to five feet tall and features purple rounded flower heads which line tall spikes.  The flower clusters bloom from top to bottom on the spike during August and September. 

 

New York Aster
New England Aster

Aster nova-belgii Blooms: August, September, October

Tall and majestic, New England Aster rules the prairie in autumn. The deep blue to purple flowers are highlights of the late season wildflower garden. This aster blooms late into the fall, well after the first frost. It serves as a critical late season nectar source for butterflies, especially for Monarchs, as they stock up for their long migration to Mexico.

Nodding Wild Onion
Nodding Wild Onion

Allium cernuum Blooms: July, August

White to light pink flowers bloom in July and August suspended on two foot tall stalks. The bell-shaped flowers are arranged in a cluster that bend down towards the earth. 

Obedient Plant
Obedient Plant

Physostegia virginiana Blooms: June, July, August, September

Just when you think the blooms have reached their peak, Obedient Plant blooms and brightens the prairie!  Pink tubular flowers grow on leafless spikes.  Its square stems revels its identity as a member of the Mint family.  The plant spreads by rhizomes and flowers appear in August and September.  Obedient Plant reaches three-to-four feet tall. 

Ohio Spiderwort
Ohio Spiderwort

Tradescantia ohioensis Blooms: April, May

The deep purple flowers of Ohio Spiderwort bloom during April and July.  The flowers in the morning and close in the afternoon to conserve moisture. The simple flowers are made of three petals and six yellow anthers.  The plants grow between two-to-three feet with long, thin and bladelike leaves. 

Orange Coneflower
Orange Coneflower

Rudbeckia fulgida Blooms: August, September, October

 

Ox-eye
Ox-eye Sunflower

Heliopsis helianthoides Blooms: July, August, September

Ox-eye Sunflower can reach up to six feet tall and features bright yellow flowers from June to September.  The daisy-like flowers have yellow-orange rays and yellow center disks.  The leaves of Ox-eye are rough and feature serrated edges. 

Partridge Pea
Partridge Pea

Chamaecrista fasciulata Blooms: July, August, September

Yellow flowers grace this short prairie plant.  Blooms appear in June when the plant is about two feet tall.  This annual plant produces so many seeds that it is basically a perennial.  The seeds are in dark brown pods which pop open when the seeds are developed.  The leaves are somewhat sensitive and will fold up after being touched. 

Purple Cone Flower
Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea Blooms: June, July, August, September, October

Purple Coneflower has become one of the most popular perennials in America today. Its purple flowers, long season of bloom, and its ability to attract butterflies are just a few reasons for its popularity.  It grows up to four feet tall and blooms from July through September.  The American Goldfinch finds its seeds irresistible. 

Prairie-dock
Prairie dock

Silphium terebinthinaceums Blooms: August, September, October

Ohio's tallest wildflower, Prairie Dock is easy to identify with its masses of yellow sunflower-like blooms appear on giant stalks. The large seeds are a favorite by seed eating birts like goldfinches.  Prairie Dock is very long-lived, individual plants are known to flourish for decades. 

Rattlesnake-master
Rattlesnake-master

Eryngium yuccifolium Blooms: September, October

The leaves of Rattlesnake Master look like Yucca but its actually a member of the Parsley Family. The distinctive, waxy-green foliage and the white “spiky golf ball” flowers that show up in July are truly unique. Native Americans brewed a tea of the root as an antidote to rattlesnake venom.

Rosinweed
Rosinweed

Silphium integrifolium Blooms: July, August, September

 

Royal Catchfly
Royal Catchfly

Silene regia Blooms: May, June

Royal Catchfly plant boasts deep red star shaped flowers. Growing two-to-four feet tall, it produces its brilliant crimson blooms over a period of many weeks in July and August.  Royal Catchfly is a listed threatened plant in Ohio, but it continues to thrive at the Prairie Nature Center.  

Saw-toothed Sunflower
Saw-toothed Sunflower

Helianthus grosseserratus Blooms: July, August, September, October

Sawtooth Sunflower is a prairie giant that can grow up to twelve feet tall with yellow flowers which are three to four inches across!  The blooms appear in late summer and last between one and two months.  Notice the sandpaper textured leaves of this plant, which often curl upward during hot dry weather and its dark red/purple stem.

Showy Tick-trefoil
Showy Tick-trefoil

Desmodium canadenses Blooms: July, August

Watch out!  You may have a bit of the seed of the Showy Tick Trefoil stuck to your shirt.  The seed pods, called loments, are very sticky which helps them disperse.  This plant grows three feet tall and is graced with relatively small pink and purple flowers. 

Hairy Ruellia
Smooth Petunia

Ruellia strepens Blooms: May, June, July

Smooth Petunia typically grows to be one and a half to three feet tall.  The rich, creamy liliac colored flowers are a delight to see thoughout May to July.  Look closely to find the blooms as they hide right where the leaves meet the stem.  The plants oval shaped leaves are oppositely arranged. 

Common Sneezeweed
Sneezeweed

Helenium autumnale Blooms: August, September, October

Sneezeweed has unique daisy-like flowers with distinctive tooth-like indentations at the ends of their petals. It produces many  bright yellow blooms, it puts on quite a show in August and September.  Grows four-to-five feet tall. The dried flowers heads were used by Native Americans to cure head colds.

Stiff Goldenrod
Stiff Goldenrod

Solidago rigida Blooms: August, September, October

The brilliant yellow flowers of Stiff Goldenrod appear in August and September. The three-to-five foot tall stems make excellent perches for birds and the seeds are an important late season food source.  Its stem and leaves are hairy and its basal leaves are stiff and stand erect, hence its common name.  The plant's round fleshy leaves help to differentiate it from other species of goldenrod, making this goldenrod easy to identify. 

Sullivant's milkweed
Sullivant's Milkweed

Asclepias sullivantii Blooms: June, July

Large and showy, the pink flowers of Sullivant's Milkweed appear in June and July.  The clusters of flowers sit atop a two-to-five foot stem.  The blooms attact many different types of butterflies.  Seed pods are filled with dark brown seeds attached to silky parachutes to aide in distribution.  

Sundrops
Sundrops

Oenothera fruticosa Blooms: June, July

The buds of Sundrops begin with a red hue, but open into a beautiful bright yellow flower in early summer.  The four petaled flowers open during the day and close at night.  The leaves have a bit of a waxy, shiny covering .  The stems are slender and softly hairy.  Sundrops grows between one-and-two feet tall. 

Swamp milkweed
Swamp Milkweed

Asclepias incarnata Blooms: June, July, August

Swamp Milkweed has fragrant pink flowers in tight clusters at the ends of each stem.  The plant reaches three feet tall and its stems release a milky sap when cut.  Slender, smooth seed pods form in the fall and later open to release seeds attached to silky tufts which are easily carried by the wind, aiding in seed dispersal. 

Tall Coreopsis
Tall Coreopsis

Coreopsis tripteris Blooms: July, August, September, October

During the late summer to early fall, small yellow daisy like flowers appear on the upper stems of this plant, which reaches four-to-eight feet tall.  Impressive in large colonies, tall coreopsis is a favorite of goldfinches and butterflies.

Thimbleweed
Thimbleweed

Anemone virginiana Blooms: June, July

Thimbleweed is a single stemmed plant that has two or three sets of whorled leaves.  Like some members of the Buttercup family, its flower lacks petals and instead has large petal-like sepals.  Its thimble-shaped seed heads turn cottony with many small seeds in autumn.  The fluffy balls of seeds are a pleasure to collect. 

Thin-leaved Coneflower
Thin-leaved Coneflower

Rudbeckia triloba Blooms: June, July, August, September, October

Brown-eyed Susan is a short-lived perennial that self-seeds readily and flowers in its second year. The hairy stemmed plant grows 2 – 5 feet tall with then rough textured leaves.  This plant is very similar to black eyed Susan but can be distinguished by having more flowers with shorter and fewer petals.  Some of the leaves are 3-lobed (less frequently 5- or 7-lobed). Lower leaves are ovate with long petioles, and upper leaves are less rounded and sessile. Other common names for this plant include thin-leaved coneflower (for thin leaves) and three-lobed coneflower (for three-lobed leaves).

Thoroughwort
Thoroughwort

Eupatorium altissimum Blooms: July, August, September, October

Thoroughwort grows three-to-five feet tall with white hairs covering the stem. The small flowers form a large cluster which blooms white July through September.  Seeds are dispersed by wind with the aid of fluffy tufts.  The leaves have three noticeable veins that run along their edges. 

Virginia Mountain Mint
Virginia Mountain Mint

Pycnanthemum virginianum Blooms: July, August

Small white flowers bloom mid summer for about a month.  Look closely and you'll notice the small purple dots on the white flowers.  Also notice that only a few flowers bloom at once.  Blooms occur at the outside and move towards the center. The foliage of this plant releases a strong mint scent when crushed.  Animals don't seem to like the strong mint fragrance and rarely bother this plant. 

White Blue-eyed Grass
White Blue-eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium albidum Blooms: May, June

Whorled milkweed
Whorled Milkweed

Asclepias verticillata
Blooms: June, July, August, September

Whorled Milkweed usually has one thin stem that branches near the top into several flat-topped flower clusters.  Each flower has a slit that allows an insect's leg to slip inside and emerge with a pair of pollen sacs, so the insect will unwittingly pollinate another flower.  This complicated process means that only a few flowers become pollinated. 

Whorled Rosinweed
Whorled Rosinweed

Silphium trifoliatum
Blooms: July, August, September

Whorled rosinweed has leaves attached to the stems in a "whorl," as their point of attachment seems to spin around the stem.  Its has a bold appearance when the two-inch sunflower-like blooms appear from July through September.  It grows from four-to-six feet tall.  The seeds are large and flat can be can be carried for several feet by the wind, if they aren't eaten by the birds first! 

Wild Senna
Wild Senna

Cassia hebecarpa Blooms: July, August

Bunches of butter-yellow flowers appear in July and August on the robust stems, reaching up to six feet tall. The attractive foliage is in large leaflets, typical of the Pea Family to which it belongs. The brown seedpods add interest in the fall and winter and are used  by birds and other wildlife.

Wing-angled Loosestrife
Wing-angled Loosestrife

Lythrum alatum Blooms: June, July, August, September

Wing Angled Loosestrife's narrow spikes grow up to three feet tall.  The lavender blooms appear in mid-summer and last up to two months.  The tiny, dust-like seeds are too small to be eaten by birds, but can be carried long distances by the wind or water.  This plant should not be confused with the aggressive invasive plant, Purple Loosestrife.   

Wild Bergamot
Bergamot

Monarda fistulosa Blooms: July, August

The heads of this lavender flower attract many insects, including bees, butterflies and beetles.  Its square stems and opposite pairs of leaves help to identify this member of the Mint family.  The entire plant has a strong minty odor when rubbed or crushed.  The seeds of this plant are tiny and numerous, which aid it in spreadying out. This mint's oil is an essential flavoring in Earl Grey tea.