35 Wildflowers That Grow in Minnesota (Identification Guide With Pictures)
Scientists have identified roughly 435,000 plant species in the world, of which over one-third are considered rare. Minnesota isn’t as diverse, having only about 2,100 plant species documented in the state. Nevertheless, the ones that call the Land of 10,000 Lakes home include some stunning flora that contributes to the beauty of the state’s ecosystems and habitats for its wildlife.
We’ve grouped our list by season, concentrating on some of our favorites. You’ll find species that capture your attention for various reasons, whether it’s their color, unique qualities, or folklore. Our collection includes common varieties and some rare finds that are definitely picture-worthy.
The 35 Minnesota Wildflowers
1. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Black-eyed Susan is a species synonymous with lazy summer days in the sun. The dark dot in the center is a cluster of disc flowers surrounded by yellow rays. It usually lives along roads and in grasslands.
2. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
Bloodroot gets its name from the red sap that flows through its stems. It is one of the first plants to bloom in the spring. You’ll find it in rich soils in partial shade. Its white flowers are often easy to spot.
3. Bracted Spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata)
Bracted Spiderwort lives in sandy prairie soils. Its name comes from the Old English word “wyrt,” meaning plant. The spider part refers to its folklore use as a balm for stings and, yes, spider bites.
4. Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
It’s hard not to view Canada Goldenrod as a harbinger of the end of summer. Perhaps that’s why its flowers are so vibrant. It attracts butterflies and bees for the season’s big send-off.
5. Canada Moonseed (Menispermum canadense)
Canada Moonseed resembles wild grape, only its leaves have smooth edges. You’ll find it along streams and in moist woods. It also produces purple berries, although they’re poisonous.
6. Canadian Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Canadian Wild Ginger differs from the root you find in the grocery store. It’s a small plant with heart-shaped leaves and an odd-looking red flower at its base that attracts flies as pollinators.
7. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Look no further than the Cardinal Flower if you want to attract hummingbirds or butterflies to your yard. Its name is a homage to the bird with its gorgeous red color. You’ll find this one in wet meadows.
8. Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)
The Common Blue Violet is probably found in just about any place in the state. It’s one of the early bloomers in the spring, attracting bees and butterflies to this small but showy plant.
9. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Milkweed and Monarchs go together like peas and carrots. The plant blooms in early summer with its pom pom-like flowers. The toxic sap of this species protects the butterflies from predation.
10. Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
The Common Mullein is a biennial and a frequent sight on roadsides and old fields. It starts as a rosette on the ground during its first year before turning into a tall stalk the second year, showing off its pretty yellow flowers.
11. Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
The Common Purslane likes it sunny and dry. That explains its thick, fleshy stems for storing moisture and drought tolerance. It’s found in urban areas and forests. It’s often an invasive plant that grows rapidly.
12. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
It’s hard to believe that the Dandelion was introduced intentionally in the United States. It grows just about anywhere in the state but thrives in lawns, much to the chagrin of homeowners.
13. Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
Dutchman’s Breeches gets its name from the article of clothing they resemble. It’s a showy plant with fern-like leaves. Herbalists used it for skin conditions, which it ironically can also cause.
14. False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)
False Solomon’s Seal prefers shady woods where its red berries provide excellent fall food for birds. It will also attract butterflies and bees, drawn to its fragrant white flowers.
15. Field Chickweed (Cerastium arvense)
Field Chickweed prefers dry, sunny spots where it can carpet an area as a groundcover. It has small, attractive white flowers and will persist into the fall. It’s also drought tolerant.
16. Field Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta)
Just the name of Field Pussytoes makes you smile, and its unique flowers look like a cat’s foot. It’s an evergreen perennial that is a host for the American Painted Lady Butterfly.
17. Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
Jack-in-the-Pulpit is easy to spot when walking in rich woods, if just for its unusual shape. While it’s poisonous to humans and other mammals, pheasants and turkeys eat it without any issues.
18. Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Jewelweed occurs in moist woods, often alongside another Minnesota plant, Stinging Nettle. That’s a good thing since its juice can cure the irritation the latter causes. It also attracts hummingbirds.
19. Leadplant (Amorpha canescens)
Leadplant is the quintessential prairie plant. It flowers late in the summer, often taking years to reach maturity to bloom. It is also a nitrogen fixer that enriches the grassland soils where it lives.
20. Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
Marsh Marigold is one of the prettiest wildflowers you’ll find in Minnesota wetlands. Bees like it for Its attractive yellow flowers. Flies and beetles also can’t resist their beauty.
21. Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
Mayapple is appropriately named for its large yellow fruit. It typically grows in moist woods where it may form colonies of plants. While most of it is poisonous, some people make jelly from its berries.
22. Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
The Pasque Flower stands out in the sea of grass that marks Minnesota prairies. It’s another early bloomer, showing its beautiful self in April. It’s also the state flower of South Dakota.
23. Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya)
Prairie Blazing Star is one of many plants that have made the leap from the wild to the garden. Its gorgeous blooms attract butterflies and hummingbirds. They flower in late summer to early fall.
24. Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)
Prairie Smoke is probably one of the most unusual of Minnesota’s prairie plants, providing attractive color throughout its growing season. Bees pollinate this evergreen perennial with its smoke-like plumes.
25. Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)
Queen Anne’s Lace is a showy plant with large white blooms with a single red dot in the center. It thrives in fields and grasslands where this biennial can get full sun.
26. Round-lobed Hepatica (Anemone americana)
Round-lobed Hepatica is one of many plants used by herbalists following the Doctrine of Signatures (DoS). Many believed its liver-shaped leaves were a sign from God to use it to treat liver ailments.
27. Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris)
Self-Heal is another of the DoS and a non-native species. Folklore uses range from bruises to kidney issues. That may explain its other common name, Heal-All. It’s a tall order for such a diminutive plant.
28. Showy Lady’s Slipper
The Showy Lady’s Slipper is part of the Orchid family. Its name is fitting, given its beauty. We’d be remiss not to mention its other title as the official state flower of Minnesota.
29. Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
It’ll probably come as no surprise that flies are a pollinator of Skunk Cabbage. Let’s just say it makes its presence known in late winter, where you’ll see—and smell— it in moist, rich woods.
30. Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
Virginia Bluebells are one of our favorite wildflowers. A carpet of them is a stunning sight to behold. It’s a shame they don’t stay in bloom very long. Minnesota marks the western edge of its range in the US.
31. Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)
Virginia Waterleaf is a perennial wetland plant that looks like someone spilled paint on its leaves. It’s a cold-hardy species with a range that extends into Canada.
32. Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Where there is Wild Bergamot, there are bees. This perennial loves full sun and dry soils. It may have lavender or white blooms with its distinctive scent, which some liken to oregano.
33. Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
Many who have been lucky to find them will say grocery-store berries have nothing over the Wild Strawberry. It’s a perennial plant that blooms and goes to fruit in the spring, providing food for birds and other wildlife.
34. Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia)
The Wood Anemone is a welcome sight in the early summer in woods and forest edges with partial shade. It’s also cold-tolerant, with a range that extends through most of Canada.
35. Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)
The Yellow Trout Lily gets its name from the unusual color pattern of its leaves, which resemble mottled fish skin. Although we often see it in yellow, you may also spot one with white blossoms.
Tips for Identifying Wildflowers
A field guide is a must-have for identifying wildflowers correctly. The keys to getting identification right are color, number of petals, flower arrangement, and leaves. That’s the typical method used in field guides. However, color is probably the least reliable. Soil conditions can affect plants, causing unexpected changes, particularly in white-colored flowers.
Smartphone apps, such as Google Lens, can also help with identification. Many parks have checklists of species you can expect to find within their boundaries. We recommend noting the habitat. You’re unlikely to find wetland plants in the middle of a prairie. Likewise, some species prefer high-quality conditions, making them less likely to occur in disturbed areas.
Learning to identify Minnesota wildflowers is an excellent way to get a better appreciation for the world around you. As you’ve seen, many species have stories to tell about the people who lived in a place and the uses they found for them. Discovering these details just might make you appreciate what other people call weeds. After all, there are only misplaced plants.
Featured Image Credit: davebaur, Pixabay
- 1 The 35 Minnesota Wildflowers
- 1.1 1. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
- 1.2 2. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
- 1.3 3. Bracted Spiderwort (Tradescantia bracteata)
- 1.4 4. Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
- 1.5 5. Canada Moonseed (Menispermum canadense)
- 1.6 6. Canadian Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
- 1.7 7. Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
- 1.8 8. Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia)
- 1.9 9. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
- 1.10 10. Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
- 1.11 11. Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
- 1.12 12. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
- 1.13 13. Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)
- 1.14 14. False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)
- 1.15 15. Field Chickweed (Cerastium arvense)
- 1.16 16. Field Pussytoes (Antennaria neglecta)
- 1.17 17. Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
- 1.18 18. Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
- 1.19 19. Leadplant (Amorpha canescens)
- 1.20 20. Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
- 1.21 21. Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
- 1.22 22. Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
- 1.23 23. Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya)
- 1.24 24. Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum)
- 1.25 25. Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)
- 1.26 26. Round-lobed Hepatica (Anemone americana)
- 1.27 27. Self-Heal (Prunella vulgaris)
- 1.28 28. Showy Lady’s Slipper
- 1.29 29. Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
- 1.30 30. Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
- 1.31 31. Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)
- 1.32 32. Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
- 1.33 33. Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
- 1.34 34. Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia)
- 1.35 35. Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)
- 2 Tips for Identifying Wildflowers
- 3 Conclusion