Ohio is home to a vast number of wildflowers. From the dark shade of moist woodlands to the open meadows and even the grassy verges running along the roadside, purple Ohio wildflowers can pop up in the most unlikely places.
Purple is rarely a shy and retiring color, and many of the blooms listed below like to stand out from the crowd. That’s perfect for the plant-lover — it’s much easier to spot a bright flower than a subtle one!
To help you on your next adventure, we’ve rounded 14 of the best purple wildflowers in Ohio. Some of these are abundant, some require a little bit of searching for, and some you can possibly spot from your window!
1. Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea)
A highly recognizable sight around Ohio, the Purple Coneflower is a bright and cheerful bloom with a purple-pink coloring that can grow almost 3 feet high.
A hardy plant, the flower has plenty of long drooping petals clustered around a protruding center that is backed full of nectar.
Purple Coneflower is a popular plant with local wildlife. In summer, butterflies and pollinators feast on the nectar of the Coneflower.
And as the season moves forward, birds enjoy picking the seeds from the old flowers. They can be a handy food source in the fall!
2. Wild Geranium (Geranium Maculatum)
When spring sets in, you can see the Wild geranium growing in the shaded corners of damp woodlands. A delicate flower with five petals, the colors range from very pale lavender to a deeper rose-purple.
Occasionally, the Wild Geranium has startling white blooms, although look closer and you might notice a hint of pink.
Growing low to the ground, Wild Geranium is popular with pollinators, particularly when the rest of the spring wildflowers haven’t woken up yet. These plants are common in woodland areas of Ohio.
3. Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium Tricorne)
Larkspur has a faint resemblance to the witch’s hat, thanks to the flowers that grow with a projecting spur that gives way to splayed petals. Take a look at them drooping toward the ground and it isn’t hard to spot the distinctive shape!
The Dwarf Larkspur is often a rich purple color, with the occasional hint of blue. When they come into bloom in spring, the sight can be quite impressive. Dwarf Larkspur has a tendency to grow together, blanketing a hillside with their royal flowers.
4. Common Blue Violet (Viola Sororia)
Common Blue Violet does grow in the wild, but it’s also a flower you’re quite likely to spot in your yard and around your local area. It’s quite happy to grow healthy even with frequent mowing and can live with constant disruption!
Although it might be known as the Common Blue Violet, the coloring definitely leans toward purple, especially in the sunshine.
The shallow petals form that distinct violet “face” shape, with larger petals above and thinner petals below. The leaves can be either triangular or rounded.
5. Tall Ironweed (Vernonia Gigantea)
In a late summer meadow, the Tall Ironweed has a habit of standing out. Not just because of its size, although it can grow up to 8 feet tall, but thanks to its color.
The bright purple of the Tall Ironweed stands as a distinctive splash compared to the yellows and browns of the more common meadow plants.
Tall Ironweed grows as a tough central stem, before blooming into a cluster of tiny purple-pink flowers. These are popular with insects, particularly the American Painted Lady Butterfly and some native bee species.
6. Prairie Ironweed (Vernonia Fasciculata)
It’s easy to mistake the Prairie Ironweed for the Tall Ironweed. Both grow densely flowered heads sprouting from a tall, strong central stem, and both stand out among the meadows of Ohio.
But the Prairie Ironweed is much rarer than the Tall Ironweed and can be identified by its glabrous leaves and flat inflorescence.
Prairie Ironweed likes open areas and rich soil, particularly moist soil. However, overshading and drainage issues have caused the plant to become at risk. Like the Tall Ironweed, the Prairie Ironweed is popular with pollinators.
7. Wild Blue Phlox (Phlox Divaricata)
From a spindly base emerges the flowers of the Wild Blue Phlox, a showy bloom with a blue-purple coloring and a riot of floral growth. The long corolla tubes give way to splaying petals that form a star shape, helping this woodland perennial stand out.
It isn’t just people who love the Wild Blue Phlox. Tucked inside that corolla tube is a heaping of nectar, which attracts various pollinators. Watch a patch of Wild Blue Phlox on a sunny day and you might see a queue of insects waiting to dip into the flower.
8. Bottle Gentian (Gentiana Andrewsii)
While you might expect to see the best of the Ohio wildflowers pop up in spring and summer, the Bottle Gentian likes to take its time. It first starts to bloom in August, but this is only the start of the season.
Bottle Gentian is often at its best in September and October, and will typically stick around until the first frost.
You might be fooled into thinking the Bottle Gentian is waiting to bloom, but the flower never actually opens up.
Instead, it maintains that closed bottle shape. Bumblebees help pollinate the plant, but they have to force their way through the blossom to do so.
9. Showy Orchis (Galearis Spectabilis)
You’ll need to get down to the ground if you want to spot the Showy Orchis, but once you’ve seen it, this mini bloom really does stand out.
It’s not necessarily the biggest or the boldest wildflower you’ll find in Ohio, but the delicate shaping and contrasting colors make it quite unique.
It can be hard to find the Showy Orchis for various reasons, not only because it’s a small bloom that gets lost in higher growth.
Although the Showy Orchis is found throughout Ohio, it tends to be highly localized. If you see one, look for more in the area.
10. New England Aster (Symphyotrichum Novae-Engliae)
The most distinctive feature of the New England Aster is the busy ring of purple petals that crowns each flower.
Perched on a spindly central stem that occasionally branches into different heads, the composite flowers have a vibrant coloring to create a busy display.
New England Aster can bloom until fall, and the hardy plant survives plenty of problems. However, by the time summer is fading, the New England Aster is rarely looking at its best. Expect the ray florets to be looking a little messy!
11. Purple Cress (Cardamine Douglassii)
The flowers of the Purple Cress aren’t the bold purple you might expect from the name. Instead, these are typically delicate blooms with very subtle coloring.
At first glance, they might appear to be completely white. But when the sunlight hits them, you can see the purple tones that run across the petals.
Purple Cress prefers to live in woodlands, but you can sometimes find it in disturbed areas. It rises from a central stem that can reach up to 16 inches, before splaying into separate branches and tubers.
12. Violet Wood Sorrel (Oxalis Violacea)
Violet Wood Sorrel is most common in southern and Eastern Ohio, where you can spot it in wooded habitats and occasionally among open meadows. A delicate flower, the blooms are a light purple with touches of white on the inner edges.
The leaves also continue the purple theme — the heart-shaped leaflets are colored purple-brown underneath.
Violet Wood Sorrel is technically small, but it has a big presence. The pretty flowers are certainly eye-catching, especially when the Sorrel grows in clumps.
13. Wild Lupine (Lupinus Perennis)
You’ll be very lucky to see the Wild Lupine, a blue-purple flower that does grow in Ohio, but almost exclusively in certain regions.
Often growing in clumps, a grouping of Wild Lupine can be a spectacular sight to see, especially as it comes into peak season in May.
The best place to see Wild Lupine in Ohio is in Oak Openings. Visit in May for the best chance to see the flowers, and keep an eye out for the rare butterflies that pollinate the plant.
The overwhelming impression of Jack-in-the-Pulpit is likely to be one of green, but this showy plant often features dark purple stripes along the hood and sheath.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit is an unusual wildflower, but in some areas, it can be abundant. It consists of a curving sheath — the pulpit — from which a “Jack” rises.
It typically blooms early. You’ll find it lurking in shaded areas of woodlands and on damp soil. When the flowers have faded, Jack-in-the-Pulip turns to bright berries.
Purple might not be the most common color of an Ohio springtime, but there are plenty of gorgeous wildflowers that bloom purple!
From the delicate coloring of the Purple Cress to the deep richness of the Bottle Gentian, purple Ohio flowers can really stand out in the woodlands and forests — and even in your yard!
We hope this guide has helped you discover the exciting purple wildflowers of Ohio, for you to spot on your next adventure!