Iowa’s climate of warm summers and long, mild spring and fall seasons means that the state is ideal for the proliferation of numerous varieties of wildflowers. With more than 200 days of sunshine per year it’s not hard to see why.
Although Iowa has changed over the centuries it still has many beautiful environment attributes and wonderful flora and fauna.
We have found 45 common types of Iowa wildflowers including photos so that you can more easily identify the flowers you encounter.
Black Medic is often found hiding in grass and can be difficult to see due to the small flower size which is around ⅓ inch across. Each stem has between 10-20 bright yellow blooms.
The plant’s leaves are oval to diamond shaped, and it can grow between 2 and 30 inches. Bloom season occurs between May and September.
This plant is also known as Canada Toadflax and is an annual wildflower. The blooms are a delicate lavender color with a white center, supported on a slender stem.
It can be found along roadsides, on prairies, and in pastures. Blue Toadflax (This wildflower is also present in Pennsylvania. Find out more about it.) can grow up to 24 inches in height and blooms between May and August.
Wood anemones are a perennial wildflower, part of the Buttercup family which grow to just a foot high. Most often seen on woodland borders and forest edges they are a low, delicate plant with slender stalks.
Flowering occurs from April through to June and the blooms can range in color from white and pink to a greenish-brown. Each flower has five petals.
A close relative of the Wood Anemone is the Thimbleweed or Tall Anemone, also part of the Buttercup family. Compared to its cousin it is tall, standing between 2–3 feet on multiple slender stalks.
The flowers are a greenish white and have a slightly elongated center which looks like a thimble, giving rise to this plant’s common name. Blooming happens from May to July.
This gorgeous plant is a perennial that flowers between May and June, providing a profusion of bright white flowers. The long tubular blooms attract long-tongued bees and hummingbirds among other pollinators.
The Foxglove Beardtongue prefers prairies, meadows, stream banks and wetlands and can reach between 2–5 feet in height. It gets its name from the tufts of small hairs on the stamens.
The American Bladdernut is a deciduous shrub that produces beautiful clusters of white flowers. These bell shaped blossoms appear in early to mid-spring and then form into the bladder shaped seed pods which persist throughout the winter.
The dark green leaves are elliptical in shape coming to a sharp point. These shrubs can grow up to 15 feet tall.
The Blue Eyed Mary is part of the Figwort family and grows in abundance on the forest floors of Iowa. It forms a carpet of blue in flowering season which is from April through to June.
This beautiful delicate wildflower has mid-blue lower petals and white upper petals. It attracts honeybees, bumblebees and skippers and grows to a height of 12–24 inches.
Black Cohosh is also known as Bugbane due to its bad odor which repels insects. Part of the Buttercup family it forms spikes of 6–24 inches in height of white blooms, but the whole plant can grow up to 6 feet high. It blooms for 2–3 weeks in June and is found in woodland or forest openings.
Prairie Mimosa, also known as Bundleflower, is part of the Pea family. This is a perennial plant which typically grows to between 1–3 feet in height. The leaves are divided into further leaflets which fold when touched.
The blooms are ball-shaped clusters of greenish-white flowers and appear between May and September. Favored habitats are wooded slopes, prairies and stream banks.
A member of the Lily family, the Wild Hyacinth has grass-like leaves and a leafless stem. On top of the 1-2 foot stem are lavender to blue flowers which form a loose cluster of fragrant blooms.
They have six petals and protruding yellow stamens. Flowering occurs from March to June in the plant’s habitats of meadows, prairies, woodland, and pastures.
Red Clover is a perennial flower with round to oval flower heads that are about an inch in diameter. The flowers themselves are tiny and pea shaped and form tight clusters on the tops of the stems.
Commonly found growing on roadsides, in ditches and field margins the plant reaches to between 6–36 inches in height. Blooms appear in June through to September.
Part of the Rose family, the Sulfur Cinquefoil is a perennial wildflower. Its pale yellow flowers form in loose clusters at the end of 12-30 inch stems.
Each flower is roughly ¾ inch across and has five heart shaped petals with a tiny smudge of bright yellow at the base. Flowering occurs from June to August.
Oxeye Daisies are an invasive species in Iowa and in several other states. It can be found growing in grassy fields, open woodlands and meadows.
It is a perennial plant which grows to between 12–24 inches in height and blooms from spring through the summer. Although it’s a self fertilizing flower, butterflies, bees and moths are attracted to its blooms.
This plant has many other, more unflattering, names such as Outhouse Lily, and Ditch Lily. It is considered an invasive species which will crowd out native plants.
It is also not a true lily having a superficial resemblance to that family. The plant will grow up to 5 feet with orange flowers 2–4 inches across. Each bloom lasts just one day.
This wildflower has a Dandelion type head with radially symmetrical flowerheads. It is a perennial plant which grows in meadows, prairies and open woodlands growing to a height of 1–2 feet.
Small oval leaves are scattered along the stem and large basal leaves radiate from the base of the stem. Blooming occurs from late spring to mid-summer and lasts for around a month.
Fireweed is a member of the Evening Primrose family and is a hardy perennial. It typically grows to between 4–6 feet in height and its name comes from its ability to rapidly propagate in areas burned by fire.
Its natural habitats are open meadows, stream banks and forest edges. The spikes of pink to purple flowers appear from June to September.
The False Pennyroyal is an annual herb which has a smell and taste similar to peppermint. This flower grows up to 12 inches and produces white, pink or purple blooms which appear from April through to September.
Blossoms are small, just ¼ inch across with 1-3 appearing on each stalk and having five oblong petals with one slightly longer than the others.
Yellow Salsify, also called Western Goatsbeard, is a showy wildflower with its ray florets and longer green bracts. The plant grows up to 3 feet with long smooth stems each of which terminate with a single flower head.
Grass-like leaves alternate along the length of the stem. Natural habitat for Yellow Salsify is open areas such as fields, and roadsides.
Goatsbeard is a perennial plant with large, feathery plumes of cream colored flowers also known as Bride’s Feathers. Its natural habitats are stream banks, moist woodlands and meadows.
The plant can grow up to six feet and blooms from late May through to mid-July. When in flower the plant attracts butterflies, and it can be used for medicinal purposes.
Tall Goldenrod is a perennial plant which grows in meadows, woodland edges and roadsides. It has branching clusters of small yellow flowers which are less than ¼ inch in diameter.
The plant can grow to 2–6 feet high on erect and rigid stems. The elongated leaves alternate along the stem, and taper to a sharp point. Flowering time is from August to October.
Spreading Hedge Parsley is an annual plant that can grow to between 2–4 feet. Its favored habitats are forest edges, pastures and roadsides.
It has fern-like leaves and clusters of small white flowers which are held on umbellets at the end of each stalk. Blooming occurs in June and continues through to September. Its burrs stick to clothing and animal fur.
This pretty wildflower resembles Forget-me-nots with clusters of small bright to deep blue flowers which appear in spring.
Each tiny bloom has a white center, and they produce a charming display of color attracting butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
Growing to a height of between 1–3 feet these perennial flowers prefer the forest floor and other shady areas.
These strikingly beautiful flowers are also called Cornflowers as they frequently grow in cornfields. They are an annual plant and grow to a height of between 1–3 feet with gray-green stems.
The intense blue flowerheads are around an inch across and feature ray florets surrounding a center of disc florets. This pretty wildflower blooms in summer and commonly grows among crops.
Ladies’ Tresses is a member of the Orchid family and one of the few with a fragrance. The flowers grow in spirals along the upper part of the 1–2 feet tall stem.
Each flower is about ½ inch long, drooping slightly giving it a ‘nodding’ motion. The leaves are narrow and grass-like, reaching 8–10 inches in length and grow from the base of the plant.
A member of the Bellflower family, the Great Blue Lobelia is a showy perennial. It can reach 2–5 feet and produces lavender-blue flowers on the upper part of the stem.
Each flower is split into two lips, the upper having 2 segments and the lower having 3. Blooming time is from July to October, and it enjoys a moist environment such as marshes.
Purple Loosestrife is a wetland plant with bright purple flowers arranged on flower spikes. Each individual flower has five or six pink-purple petals surrounding a small yellow center.
The leaves of this plant are long and lance-shaped, occurring in pairs along the stem, on opposite sides. Flowering takes place in early July through to September.
A pretty native plant, Goat’s Rue is a member of the Pea family and its flowers do resemble those of the Sweet Pea. The bloom’s lower petal is pink with the upper petal being pale yellow.
It grows well in glades, rocky open woods and prairies being particularly resistant to drought due to its long roots. Blooming occurs from April to July.
A native, perennial plant False Solomon’s Seal produces plume-like clusters of white flowers which are 3–5 inches long and 2 inches across. The individual flowers which make up the clusters are star-shaped and ⅛ inch across.
The oval leaves of the plant are large, up to 6 inches long and 3 inches wide with a pointed tip. Flowering happens from May to June.
The Hairyjoint Meadow Parsnip is a member of the Parsley family and a perennial plant. It grows on open rocky slopes, in meadows and rich woods reaching 1–4 feet in height.
The yellow blooms are presented in umbel clusters on the end of the stems which are hairy at the joint, giving this plant its common name. Bloom time is April to May.
Given its bright orange color it is not surprising that this perennial plant attracts butterflies. It also draws hummingbirds and plays host to the larvae of moths.
The plant grows up to 2 feet with clusters of orange flowers which are 2-5 inches across. Dark green foliage provides an attractive contrast to the brightly colored blooms which appear from May to September.
The arrangement of the petals of the Sharpwing Monkey Flower are suggestive of a monkey’s face. Along with the pointed, wing-like leaves this is how it came by its common name.
It is a perennial flower with no scent and blooms from June to September, producing blue to violet blossoms. This wildflower grows on riverbanks, in wet woods and marshes.
The Wild Potato Vine is a climbing or trailing plant commonly found sprawled across open spaces or climbing adjacent vegetation. Its large, white funnel-shaped flowers have a purple throat and the leaves are long and pointed.
Blooming happens in spring and summer on cloudy days in the morning or afternoon. The 2-3 inch flowers attract hummingbirds.
The Moth Mullein is part of the Figwort family and grows to a height of between 2–5 feet. The saucer-shaped, yellow flowers are about an inch across and have contrasting red stamens with orange tips.
Shallow lobed leaves get progressively smaller as they go up the stem. Favored habitats are woodland edges, fields, and waste ground. Flowering occurs in June to September.
Carolina Horse Nettle plant is a perennial and can grow to around 2 feet tall. It has clusters of white to purple flowers which have five petals, and its leaves are irregularly lobed. Flowering happens from May to October.
This plant is not a true nettle but rather a member of the Nightshade family and can be found in pastures, waste ground, and roadsides.
The Partridge Pea is an annual plant which can grow from 1 to 3 feet in height. The bright yellow flowers appear from June to October along the slender stems of the plant.
Each bloom has a touch of red in the center and dark red stamens. It is also known as the Sensitive Plant as the leaflets fold together when touched.
Pearly Everlasting is a perennial plant which has upright stems topped with clusters of white flower heads.
The globes are actually dry bracts rather than petals and surround a yellow center. These flowers are often used in dried floral arrangements.
A food source and host for Painted Lady butterflies the plant thrives in dry prairies, open woodland and on waste ground.
The Deptford Pink is an invasive species having come from England. It became semi-naturalized in the US growing on mountains, pastures and roadsides. The bright pink flower has five petals which are dotted with white.
Growing to a height of 8 to 24 inches the stems can hold a solitary flower or groups of 3 to 6 and bloom from June to September.
The Yellow Pond Lily is an aquatic perennial plant whose leaves and flowers float on the surface of the water. They can be found on lakes, ponds, bayous and bogs and bloom from March to October.
Yellow Pond Lily leaves are 2-6 inches long and green with a purple tinge. The flowers are cup shaped and 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches wide.
Creeping Water Primrose is a perennial plant which grows along the shoreline. It sends long runners which can reach around 16 feet in length across wet soil or floating on the water.
The leaves are lance shaped to egg shaped with the flowers arising from the leaf axils. The flowers have 5 bright yellow petals and are about half an inch across.
The other name for Queen Anne’s Lace is wild carrot. It can reach between 1 and 4 feet and has attractive foliage similar to ferns.
The cluster of tiny white flowers with the single dark colored and off-center floret distinguish it from similar flowers such as the poison hemlock. Flowers bloom from spring into fall.
The elegant looking Asiatic Dayflower is so named because this invasive species produces flowers that only last a day. Individual flowers are ½ to 1 inch wide with 3 petals, 2 upper blue petals and a single lower white, notched petal.
Blooming season is from July to October and the plant can be found on roadsides, waste ground and woodland edges.
A member of the Aster family Autumn Sneezeweed gets its name from the former use of its leaves for making snuff. The plant can grow to between 2–5 feet and has elongated leaves and daisy like flowers (for more flowers that look like daisies, read here).
Each bloom has fan shaped petals with serrated edges and a raised center. The plant grows in wet meadows with flowering happening between July and October.
Dutchman’s Breeches is a perennial plant which grows up to a foot high. It has fern-like leaves and stalks bearing double spurred flowers.
The blooms are white, pantaloon shaped and slightly drooping on the stalk giving them a nodding appearance.
The plants are pollinated by bumblebees and flowering occurs from March to May. It can be found in deciduous woods and ravines.
The Common Sunflower is part of the Aster family and can grow to an impressive 10 feet. It has coarse hairy stems and leaves and a large, showy flower head measuring around 5 ½ inches across.
A maroon center is surrounded by bright yellow petals. Blooming season is from June to November with the sunflowers favoring dry, open areas.
Also known as Common Goldstar this grass-like perennial plant grows 3–10 inches tall. The ¾ inch star shaped flowers are held up on slender stems which can be reclining or erect.
Found in open woods, meadows and dry to damp prairies the Yellow Star Grass blooms from March through to August. It attracts bees and butterflies.
We hope that you have enjoyed our short guide to some of Iowa’s most stunning and interesting wildflowers. This is of course just a taste of what the Hawkeye State has to offer.
There are hundreds if not thousands more examples of stunning wildflowers, shrubbery and aquatic plants to be enjoyed in Iowa.
Hopefully this list will give you a taste, and you will want to come and explore, to see for yourself what is on offer in America’s heartland.