Do you love wandering around the plains and prairies of Maryland, taking notice of each flower you see and appreciating its morphology, intrinsic beauty, and smell? Well we want to help you in this endeavor to appreciate the little things.
As Ferris Bueller once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
As is common on the East Coast of the US, Maryland has an abundant level of flora and fauna. Its climate naturally has a level of annual precipitation that is ideal for wildflower growth.
Wildflowers find homes in the open prairies and plains, but also under the shelter of the coastal forests that are abundant in the state as well on the coastal open areas themselves.
This makes for a lot of wildflowers that grow uniquely in Maryland, as well as a large number of other national plants that find home in the state.
Today, we are going to cover lots of common wildflowers in Maryland you might come across, as well as some other rarer wildflowers you might be looking for.
Keep reading to learn more about Maryland and its abundant wildflowers. We hope this guide helps you identify and locate flowers in this great state! Find out more below.
Here are some common and more rare wildflowers you will find in the state of Maryland.
1. Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)
Why not start with the national flower of Maryland, what is commonly called a black-eyed Susan. They are in the wider family of Asteraceae, home to daisies and sunflowers as well.
The black-eyed Susan is an upright annual plant meaning they come around once a year and die off, although some cultivated species can be biennial or even perennial. They can grow relatively tall for a wildflower, at around 39 inches maximum.
They have basal leaves covered in hair with composite flower heads. As is common in the Asteraceae family, they have the identifiable black disc in the center of the plant, usually with sparse petals that have a convex direction.
They became the state flower of Maryland in 1918, and are commonly cultivated within the state, in home gardens as well as public gardens, to celebrate the state of Maryland.
The species can be toxic to cats if ingested, however, they are great to have in your garden as a host for butterflies and larvae. The plant was historically used in herbal medicines by the native tribes that inhabited Maryland.
2. Southern Magnolia or Bull Bay (Magnolia Grandiflora)
This grand Magnolia species is cultivated pretty widely in Chesapeake Bay region of Maryland where it grows pretty quickly in the songer summers of the state, as the plant grows endemically in the subtropical regions of America.
This species of Magnolia, a type of flower that is common in the Southern US states, is actually an evergreen tree of the family Magoliaceae, hence ‘grandiflora’ which basically means ‘big flower’.
In the Southern US, such as in Maryland, the trees grow pretty tall and enjoy growing in the coastal forests of Maryland.
The flower is large and showy, and is recognizable, being white and around 12 inches in diameter, with six or twelve petals. The flower should have a noticeable lemon or citrus scent and you should see them flowering on the twigs of mature trees in the late spring.
3. American White Waterlily (Nymphaea Odorata)
This is a pretty common aquatic plant that grows in the various shallow lakes and ponds of Maryland, it’s easy to spot these white flowers poking out from the waxy, floating green foliage of the Nymphaea.
The flowers also float meaning they are even easier to spot. The flower is radially symmetric with a bright yellow center. The white petals are beautifully symmetrical and form in this classic cup shape.
Like other aquatic plants the flowers open and close again each night, but once pollinated they can be pulled back under the water to mature the fruits. Noticeably, the flowers are very fragrant when open, so look out for this
4. Wild Carrot ‘Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus Carota)
This is a species of flower that has become naturalized in the ‘New World’ which commonly refers to the Americas, and in our case Maryland. The flower is hard to describe but undoubtedly is unique in comparison to others.
The flowers occur in small clusters of umbels, which have multiple flowers on the tips and branching stems of the umbel. The petals themselves are a dull white but can occasionally form in reddish or purple flowers.
The lower bracts, the smaller stems of the umbel, are three-forked, or ‘pinnate’ helping identify them against other similar flowers.
Importantly, the Queen Anne’s Lace has a very similar appearance to the deadly poison hemlock. We can distinguish the former from the latter by its mix of tripinnate leaves, and arrangement that is featherlike like a fern; it also has fine hairs on the stems and leaves.
To be ultra sure, the root of the Daucus carota will smell like a carrot, while the poison hemlock will not. Speaking of carrots, it is the subspecies sativus that will yield the large root vegetable, while this is just a flowering version with no harvestable vegetable, although there is fruit.
5. Canadian Anemone (Anemonastrum Canadense Syn. Anemone Canadensis)
The Canadian Anemone is one that is more related to Canada but is now naturalized and endemic in many areas of the US and particularly in Maryland’s East Coast.
The plant is mainly bushy with small flowers and uses a rhizome system common in moist areas of meadows, thickets, streambanks, and lakeshores, many of which are common geographical features in Maryland’s East Coast.
The shoots of the Canadian Anemone grow around 8-31 inches in height. The flower is usually around 5 petals, with a clustered stamen in the middle, a bright white color which they are prized for which generally bloom in late spring to summer.
When pollinated by local insects or birds, the pistils in the middle of the flower can become longer with a seed head. The leaves of the Canadian Anemone are toothes basal leaves in long stems.
Again, this flower has a historic use within herbal medicine. The flower was used for treating styptic for wounds and sores by those Native inhabitants of the state, and the country at large.
6. Green Arrow Arum ‘Tuckahoe’ (Peltandra Virginica)
This is a plant that is common across the US mainly in wetlands and marshes being super tolerant to low oxygen levels. While super common in areas like Florida’s Everglades, the similar wetlands of Maryland also enjoy the sights of a Green Arrow Arum.
While the latter name describes its foliage well, the Pektandra genus is pretty widespread in Northern America.
The Green Arrow actually has two types of flower, one male, one female. The plant is perennial, with many large leaves; a single leaf might actually reach half a meter in length in certain deep marshes. The visible leaves will be very thin like an arrow, hence the name.
The flowers themselves are variable in their color and can be white, yellow, or even green. The flower is interestingly pollinated by the choloropid fly, and its pollen is dispersed mainly by animals and water itself.
7. Scarlet Beebalm (Monarda Didyma)
This is a showy flower that grows across North America. It is actually an aromatic herb in the Lamiaceae family, but has a particularly notable flower. The odor of the plant is actually really similar to the bergamot that is used to flavor Earl Grey tea.
The plant is a perennial, meaning it grows back every year, but has long ovate lanceolate leaves that come to a point. The leaves are also particularly fragrant when bruised and crushed, smelling of mint.
The flowers are raggedy and tubular but are bright red in color The entire inflorescence of the plant is very showy and noted for its dense red clustered of flowers, ideal for showing.
The plant grows easily in aquatic areas which is ideal for Maryland’s coast, loving streams and banks. It is also enjoyed as it is a perfect host to various moths and hummingbirds.
8. Crown Vetch (Securigera varia Sym. Coronilla Varia)
This is a low growing league vine, and has become an introductory plant in the US that is now endemic because of its use in soil rehabilitation. It grows up to around 2 feet and bears clusters of flowers at the top which flower in early summer or fall.
The flowers often come in pink or white flowers in small clusters of around ½ inch, a common site in aquatic areas of Maryland.
While it can be a little invasive when planted with other plants, it grows perfectly on the banks of aquatic areas where it often finds its home in Maryland.
When growing naturally in large sunlight it can grow for decades without fertilization or weeding, its thick foliage often preventing weeds from being able to survive underneath.
Notably, the thick fern-like leaves of the crown vetch are used for erosion control in certain areas, being able to help reduce the physical impact of rain and water on the banks of aquatic areas.
To add to the strange balance of positives and negatives with the wildflower, it is actually somewhat toxic to horses, specifically nonruminant animals, but not to other ruminant animals such as cattle, goats, and sheep.
9. Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpea)
This is another flower from the Asteraceae family, a flowering family very common in North America. This is a flower that is commonly seen in the drier parts of Maryland, particularly in the parries and wooded areas.
The Purple coneflower is a herbaceous perennial that can grow up to 47 inches, in certain areas of Maryland it will bloom from autumn into summer. The inflorescence is a capitulum that is formed by a domed protuberance.
The hermaphrodite flowers form around the dome capitulum and have a distinctive purple flower. The flower is commonly pollinated by both butterflies and bees, ideal for any garden.
Their flowers are ornamental and recognizable, easy to recognize. It is notable that if cultivating at home, notice that slugs and rabbits will eat the foliage, roots will also be eaten by gophers in certain areas.
The Echincea is commonly cultivated for herbal teas as well as ornamental uses.
10. Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias Tuberosa)
This is a species of milkweed, from the Asclepias family, that is native to Eastern, as well as Southwestern, parts of North America.
The name ‘butterfly milkweed’ comes from the fact that butterflies are very attracted to the plant mainly due to it having such a high level of pollen in the flowers.
It is a perennial plant that can grow up to 3 and a half inches tall. The leaves are lanceolate and arranged spirally on the stem. From April to September flowers will start to bloom on the plant.
The plant has wide umbels of orange, yellow, or red flowers that are around ½ an inch wide, usually with five petals and sepals. The butterfly milkweed can enjoy the dry area but can also appear on the banks of streams, where full sun is accessible.
An issue here is that they are very similar looking to lanceolate milkweed (Asclepias laneolata) but our variety of butterfly milkweed here has a much greater number of flowers, with hairy stems.
11. Smooth Oxeye (Heliopsis Helianthoides)
This is another from the Asteraceae family which is common in the US, but describes another flowering plant that is commonly found in wooded and tall grass prairie, commonly found in Maryland.
Sometimes this plant is called a false sunflower due to the similarities and obvious differences.
The Smooth Oxeye is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial that grows around 59 inches tall. The lanceolate leaves usually have toothed leaf blades, which commonly and obviously separates them from that of a real sunflower, beyond the latter’s size (Are sunflowers weeds? Read more about it here).
The smooth leaves that occasionally occur, although they can be hairy too, are where the name smooth oxeye comes from.
Oxeye refers to the central flower head, its dark interior, of which yellow ray florets protrude from in the midsummer to early fall weather.
When cultivated they will require stalking considering how tall they can grow, certain cultivars have earned a Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit.
12. Corn Poppy (Papaver Rhoeas)
This is your classic poppy, part of the poppy family known as Papaver.
It is common in the Uk where in the colder weathers it generally flowers in May and October, but in the warmer climates of the US, and Maryland, the poppy will often lower in late spring, or even in autumn in particularly warm climates.
While they are common in the northern hemisphere, varieties of Papaver grow all over the world even in the hotter climates of Africa and the Middle East. It is an annual plant meaning that it will bloom once in the year and then die off.
The hairy, a feature unique to this variety of papaver, erect stem holds a single flower atop it. The classic papaven flower usually has four vividly red petals, they grow up to 28 inches in height, with the flower reaching around 4 inches across.
Simply put, the common poppy is pretty easy to spot and distinguish from other plants. You can eat poppy seeds you cultivate, and the petals are even used as a red dye.
13. Evening Primrose (Oenothera Perennis)
This is a flowering plant that is native to the US and Canada, it enjoys shaly slopes, fields and pastures, and can easily survive in moist conditions as well, making it ideal to grow in the geography of Maryland – they are also a perennial plant, ideal for cultivation.
These plants that are often called evening primroses are not actually primroses at all but are of the Oenothera family.
The yellow flowers are particularly noticeable, with four petals notched at the top of the stem. The yellow flowers of the Oenothera perennis open during the day and close in the night, which is also part of why they have the common name ‘Evening primrose’
14. Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis Matronalis)
This herbaceous species from the Braissicaceae family is a short lived perennial, or biennials, that has become naturalized in the US now. Many attribute its naturalization to people spreading wildflower seed packets which contain the plant’s seed.
The blooming of the plant is quite weak in the first year which can be unassuming but by the second and third blooms it is quite prolific.
In the early to mid spring the short lived perennial plant has some showy blooms. The lanceolate leaves are alternately arranged on the erect stem.
The foliage has short hairs on both the top and bottom of the leaf. During flowering the lower parts of the stems are unbranched and denuded of foliage.
The flowers themselves are produced in large racemes that can be nearly 30cm long. The flower is large with four petals. The color of the flower can vary more than most plants, but the most common in some shade of purple, with white and pink also being pretty common.
The flowers have six stamens in two groups. Flowers can bloom until August but warmer weather can actually cause blooming periods to be reduced.
15. Red Trillium ‘Stinking Benjamin’ (Trillium Erectum)
The trillium is a species of flowering plant from the family Melanthiaceae. The trillium erectum is actually a spring ephemeral, this means their blooming and growth periods are near synced with teh woodlands around them.
This means it has a shorter growing period that is only able to be judged when you know the area they will be growing in.
Yet, it is really worthwhile waiting for this plant to bloom as it is quite special when it does. All trillium’s generally grow in around 3 parts. As a result the trillium is very recognizable by the fact it has a three petalled flower, usually with three leaves behind it.
The petals boast a generally red color but they can come in hues of maroon, purple, pale yellow, or even white. The ovary is red regardless of the color of the petals.
16. Bird’s Foot Violet (Viola Pedata)
This violet grows perfectly in sandy conditions, ideal for the Eastern Coast of Maryland. Here the plant will grow well in drained acidic soils that are partially or completely in the sun.
They actually resist most garden cultivation, primarily being a wild species, as they don’t tolerate rich soil or excess moisture. They grow perfectly on the sandy banks of the East Coast.
That said, their flower is particularly ornamental even though they are rarely seen in most gardens. There are two varieties of the plant that have varying forms of primary color.
In other words, there is the variety of ‘lineariloba’ which is generally concolored and usually a solid pink or lilac color that can also be other hues of pinky-purple, as well as the ‘pedata’ variety listed which is bicolor, with the superior main petals having a deep red to purple color and lateral petals are similar to the concolor variety.
There is even an alba variety that is white but this is quite rare, so catch a snap if you see one.
As you can see, Maryland is home to plenty of wildflowers. The main flowers that grow here are the ones that enjoy Maryland’s Coastal geography.
Whether that is a sandy bank, a pond, a dry prairie, a field, or a sun drenched riverbank, there are plenty of places for wildflowers to grow in Maryland which has a geography ideal for it.
If you catch a wildflower we hope that some of the flowers listed help you identify what is out there, so you can learn more about the plant. Just be careful what you pick and what you bring back to you own garden.
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