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15 Wildflowers that Grow in Kansas: Identification Guide (With Pictures)

pink and white Milkweed (Asclepias) flowers

When you’re down reading this guide, you will want to put the phone away and head outside. The Sunflower State offers some of the most exquisite colors and flower shapes, luring in more colors from birds around the country.

In this post, you will learn about 15 of the most common wildflowers that grow in Kansas and how to identify them. This isn’t a comprehensive list—you would need a book for that—but we’ve done our best to narrow it down to 15 stunning contenders!

garden flower divider

The 15 Wildflowers that Grow in Kansas


Springtime in Kansas is one of the year’s most gorgeous and uplifting seasons. New budding wildflowers usher in the promise of beautiful weather and garden joy. Here are some wildflowers to watch for come spring:

1. Virginia Bluebells

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
Image Credit: lampwright, Pixabay
Scientific name: Mertensia virginica Height: 10 to 28 inches
Family: Boraginaceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: March to May Habitat: Moist woodland clearings, water banks

Also called Virginia Cowslip, Bluebells stand tall with egg-shaped leaves and adorning blue, bell-shaped flowers. Each flower has five petals that fuse to form the bell shape. The leaves are about 2 to 8 inches long and slightly blunt at the end, while the stem is minimally branched (often unbranched).

Native Americans would steep the roots and use the liquid to battle poisoning and venereal diseases. They would also treat whooping cough and tuberculosis, although the plant’s medicinal properties haven’t been widely explored.

2. Wooly Verbena

Wolly verbena or verbena stricta flower
Image Credit: Rosamar, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Verbena stricta Height: 1 to 5 feet
Family: Verbenaceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: June to September Habitat: Dry soils, roadsides, waste areas, farmyards

Wooly Verbena is a tall, stout flower that blooms in spring and carries into early fall. The stem is caterpillar-like with small spikes, while the leaves are oval-shaped with pointed tips. From afar, the purple flowers look like tiny purple balls. However, the petal tips are sharply pointed, overlapping each other in a dense formation.

Cattle don’t care for Wooly Verbena’s bitter flavor, so the flower often grows across prairie and farmland without hesitation. The plant is also drought-resistant, thanks to its 12-foot-long roots.

3. Wild Violet

Wild violet flower
Image Credit: Sunbunny Studio, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Viola nephrophylla Height: 2 to 12 inches
Family: Violaceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: March to May Habitat: Moist areas, open woods, roadsides, waste areas, prairie hillsides

Also known as Blue Prairie Violet and Butterfly Violet, Wild Violet grows throughout Kansas in moist areas. It doesn’t flower for long, but the color is beautiful, nonetheless.

Compared to other Kansas wildflowers, wild violets are short flowers that grow close to the ground like squash. They’re considered stemless with showy flower heads and varying petal shapes. Each flower has five petals.

Early settlers would use the leaves as jelly or tea to treat headaches and sore throats. Of all the Wild Violets, Blue Violet is the most harvested. Even the leaves can be used in salads.

4. Wild Parsley

Wild parsley flower
Image Credit: nnattalli, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Lomatium foeniculaceum Height: 4 to 15 inches
Family: Apiaceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: March to April Habitat: Dry, open prairie, rocky limestone or chalk soils

Wild Parsley is another stemless perennial that grows in the Eastern two-thirds of Kansas. Wild Parsley only flowers in March and April and can be harvested for culinary purposes. The leaves are hairy and pointed, while the flower heads are small and yellow, grouped into small ball-shaped sections.

5. Plains Wild Indigo

Wild indigo flower
Image Credit: ChWeiss, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Baptisia bracteata Height: 8 to 30 inches
Family: Fabaceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: April to May Habitat: Sandy, rocky prairie, roadsides

Plains Wild Indigo can grow upward or outward. The stem is silky and hairy, while the leaves are long ovals. The flowers are also oval-shaped, looking similar to pistachio nut shells. You’ll usually find Plain Wild Indigo in rocky or sandy areas.

Plains Wild Indigo only blooms in April and May. Still, it’s a blessing in disguise since it’s toxic to livestock if consumed in large quantities. You can find this flower in the eastern half of Kansas.

6. Plains Prickly Pear

Image Credit: Dominic Gentilcore PhD, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Opuntia macrorhiza Height: Up to 6 inches
Family: Cactaceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: May to June Habitat: Dry, rocky prairie

You may not think a cactus could grow in tornado alley, but Prickly Pears love the sunflower state, especially during droughts. The hot, harsh sun and dry, rocky hillsides are perfect for a Prickly Pear to produce flowers.

The Prickly Pear has flat, tear-shaped pad segments with spikes. During the flowering season, the showy, tunnel-shaped flowers grow on top of the pads for wild birds and humans to eat.

7. Prairie Larkspur

prairie larkspur
Image Credit: dawnstanley92, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Delphinium carolinianum Height: 1 to 4 feet
Family: Ranunculaceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: May to June Habitat: Open prairie, pasture, and hillsides

Also called Plains Larkspur, Prairie Larkspur grows tall and proud. The stem is semi-hairy, and the leaves are small and rounded, with pointed tips extending toward the bottom of the stem. The flowers are long and wispy, opening proudly to expose the stamens. You can find Prairie Larkspur growing throughout Kansas.

Although the plant is beautiful, its sweet taste is dangerous to cattle. All parts of the plant are toxic, whether fresh or dry.

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Summer is the season for sun-loving flowers and dazzling pollinators. Most flowers like to flower during this time, so you’ll see several wildflowers flaunting their petals. Here are some common Kansas wildflowers to spot during the summer:

8. Wild Bergamot

wild bergamot
Image Credit: tviolet, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Monarda fistulosa Height: 1 to 4 feet
Family: Lamiaceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: June to August Habitat: Rocky prairie and pasture, thickets, water banks, roadsides

Also called Mint-Leaf Bee Balm, Wild Bergamot stands tall and proud with bursting purple flowers. The leaves are long and ovate, curving slightly to form a boat shape. Both the petals and leaves are somewhat hairy.

The petals are long and wavy, curving over the receptacle (base of the flower head) and allowing the stamens to stretch toward the sky. It’s no wonder why bees love this flower.

Native Americans used the plant to treat coughs, colds, fevers, and stomach pains. The aromatic flowers create delicious tea and fragrant perfume.

9. Common Milkweed

Common Milkweed
Image Credit: JumpStory
Scientific name: Asclepias syriaca Height: 2 to 5 feet
Family: Apocynaceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: June to August Habitat: Water banks, roadsides, woodlands, waste area

Also called Milk Plant and Wild Asparagus, Common Milkweed is well-known for attracting the Monarch Butterfly. The flowers peel apart opposite the sepal (bottom leaves) and are slightly egg-shaped. The flower tips are blunt and hairy/wooly in different areas.

Common Milkweed can be eaten but is toxic in its raw state. Native Americans would boil the shoots first before consuming them.

10. Eastern Purple Coneflower

a patch of eastern purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) flowers
Image Credit: Khara Woods, Unsplash
Scientific name: Echinacea purpurea Height: 10 to 48 inches
Family: Asteraceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: June to August Habitat: Rocky, oak-hickory forests, and woodlands

Eastern Purple Coneflower can be easily identified with its distinctive conical center. The plant only has a few flower petals, with the center being the sole focus for all kinds of pollinators. Bees and butterflies can’t get enough!

Coneflower is a true native plant of Kansas. Native Americans would create root infusions to treat venereal disease and would chew the roots raw for coughs.

11. Compass Plant

Compass Plant
Image Credit: Katie Flenker, Shutterstock
Scientific name: Silphium laciniatum Height: 3 to 10 feet
Family: Asteraceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: July to September Habitat: Dry prairie hillsides, sandy, and rocky soil

The Compass Pant is part of the sunflower and daisy family. The stems are tall, stiff, and hairy, and the bright yellow flower heads open proudly toward the sun. You could easily mistake Compass Plant for a sunflower if you didn’t know better.

The difference is in the leaves, petals, and overall height. For instance, Compass Plant is shorter compared to Common Sunflower. The leaves resemble a feather, and the petals are slightly thinner.

12. Common Sunflower

sunflower plants
Image Credit: Ulleo, Pixabay
Scientific name: Helianthus annuus Height: 2 to 12 feet
Family: Asteraceae Type: Annual
Flowering Period: July to September Habitat: Open fields, roadsides, low moist ground

As the official state flower of Kansas since 1903, the Common Sunflower stands proudly throughout Kansas everywhere. You can commonly find these flowers along roadsides and in fields. Sunflower stems are thick, hairy, and rough while branching upward. The leaves are heart-shaped and are slightly toothed around the edges.

Common Sunflower is highly versatile, often used for food, dyes, cattle feed, coffee substitutes, and more.

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When most flowers die away, a few flowers stick around to show off their gorgeous colors. Here are a few common wildflowers you may find throughout the state:

13. Aromatic Aster

purple Aster flowers
Image Credit: akirEVarga, Pixabay
Scientific name: Symphyotrichum oblongifolium Height: 6 to 18 inches
Family: Asteraceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: September to October Habitat: Dry, rocky, or sandy open areas, usually hillsides

Part of the sunflower family, Aromatic Aster grows upward toward the sun, often found growing with Silky Aster. The stem is highly branched with much old and new growth sprouting in different areas. The leaves grow toward the flowerhead on the stem and usually die away when the plant begins to flower.

The flower petals are long and thin, known as ray florets. Each flower head holds about 30 petals. When searching for this plant, you can find Aromatic Aster throughout Kansas, except in the lower southeast corner.

14. Jerusalem Artichoke

jerusalem artichoke helianthus tuberosus
Image Credit: Hans Benn, Pixabay
Scientific name: Helianthus tuberosus Height: 3 to 10 feet
Family: Asteraceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: August to October Habitat: Moist areas, along streams, roadsides

Another sunflower-family friend, Jerusalem Artichoke grows in moist areas, unlike other related flowers. You can find this flower in the eastern part of Kansas.

The stem is erect and hairy, branching at the top. The leaf shapes can vary but are usually long, ovate, and droopy. The petals are ray florets, changing from yellow to orange in the center. Native Americans would cook the tubers in several ways, and sometimes eat them raw.

15. Rigid Goldenrod

stiff goldenrod wildflower
Image Credit: JumpStory
Scientific name: Solidago rigida Height: 1 to 5 feet
Family: Asteraceae Type: Perennial
Flowering Period: August to October Habitat: Dry open prairie or pasture, hillsides, sandy or rocky areas

Rigid Goldenrod provides beautiful shades of yellow throughout fall. Part of the sunflower family, this flower looks a little different compared to the other sunflower cousins. The stem is thick and smooth, and the leaves alternate as they move up the stem.

Like most sunflower cousins, the flowers are ray florets but are tiny. You can find this plant everywhere in Kansas except near the Colorado border.

garden flower divider


Now you know 15 wildflower species in Kansas. Either go out and find these flowers or plant them in your garden. The colors and shapes offer so much diversity and life to your backyard and help the ecosystem. You’ll be amazed by how many pollinators invite themselves over!

Featured Image Credit: Lasclay, Unsplash


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