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15 Wildflowers in Kansas (with Photos)

Although Kansas is well recognized for its expansive grasslands and rolling hills, the state also has a wide variety of wildflowers that adorn its landscapes. From the brilliant hues of the purple coneflower to the delicate petals of the evening primrose, these wildflowers in Kansas offer a touch of natural elegance to the plains. 

This article will talk about some of the wildflowers found in the state, showcasing their bright colors and unique habitats.

15 Wildflowers in Kansas

In a state with plentiful fields and sun, it is not surprising to learn that the state wildflower of Kansas is the Common Sunflower. Kansas provides the perfect growing conditions for sunflower and they can be found all over the state. 

These iconic flowers can grow up to 15 feet tall, and their huge flower heads move to follow the sun across the sky. Sunflower seeds are used to produce vegetable oil and are enjoyed as a food source by birds and humans alike.

Let’s look at 15 more Kansas wildflowers.

1. Common Milkweed

Common milkweed
Common milkweed | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Asclepias syriaca
  • Zone: 4-9
  • Season: June, July, August 

The Common Milkweed, which is also called milk plant or wild cotton, is a plant that’s native to North America. It has sturdy, upright stems and leaves that are shaped like broad eggs or ellipses. The plant produces many flowers, from pink to purple, although white flowers are occasionally seen.

This plant is commonly found near waterways, roadsides, woodlands, and areas that have been disturbed. Despite its toxicity, Native Americans utilized it for both food and medicinal reasons. 

2. Indian paintbrush

Indian paintbrush flower
An indian paintbrush flower | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Castilleja coccinea
  • Zone: 6-11
  • Where to see: East 1/6 of Kansas
  • Season: May, June, July

Indian Paintbrush, also known as Painted cup, is a partially parasitic wildflower found in the eastern part of Kansas. It has ascended to upright stems with lanceolate leaves and dense spikes of vivid red, reddish-orange, yellow, or white flowers. Indian Paintbrush grows well in wet prairies, meadows, thickets, and damp sandy soils. 

3. Western horse-nettle

Western horse-nettle flower
Western horse-nettle flower | image by Melissa McMasters via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Solanum dimidiatum
  • Zone: 8-11
  • Where to see: South 2/3 of the east 1/2 of Kansas
  • Season: May to September 

The Western horse-nettle, also called Potato-weed, is a wildflower that grows mainly in the southern two-thirds of the eastern part of Kansas. The plant has bluish-purple wheel-shaped flowers and can be found in prairies, fields, open woods, roadsides, and waste areas. It’s known to produce “crazy cow syndrome” in livestock, although the condition itself isn’t particularly frequent. 

4. Dandelion

Dandelion flower
A dandelion flower | image by Benjamin Esham via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Geranium maculatum
  • Zone: 3-9
  • Where to see: Throughout the state
  • Season: April to September

Dandelion is a common wildflower with yellow petals that grow alone on the stem. You can often find them in lawns, areas with waste, pastures, and places that have been disturbed. Although they have a moderate amount of feed value, livestock, rabbits, wild turkeys, deer, and small mammals eat them.

There are several uses for dandelion plants, including making wine from the blooms, coffee substitutes from the taproot, and vitamin A- and iron-rich salads from the leaves. 

5. Butterfly Weed

Butterflyweed flowers
Butterfly weed flowers | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa
  • Zone: 3-9
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: Late spring to summer
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The Butterfly weed is a perennial plant found in central and eastern Kansas.  It grows up to 2 feet in height and 1.5 feet in width, in dry, rocky, or sandy soils.

It has many names, including pleurisy root, butterfly milkweed, and orange milkweed. Butterfly weed blooms bright orange flowers for up to two months, making it an attractive addition to gardens. It serves as a host for Monarch Butterflies and attracts numerous other pollinators. Unlike other species of milkweed, butterfly weed does not contain the characteristic thick milky sap but instead has a watery translucent sap.

6. Eastern purple coneflower

Eastern purple coneflowers
Eastern purple coneflowers | image by alvaroreguly via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Echinacea purpurea
  • Zone: 3-9
  • Where to see: Southeast corner of Kansas
  • Season: June to August

The Eastern Purple Coneflower is a native wildflower that’s distinguished by its blossoms, which include ray florets that are reddish-purple (and occasionally pink) in color. The Native Americans treated coughs and venereal diseases using the root of this plant, which prefers to grow in rocky oak-hickory forests and woodlands. 

7. Spotted Geranium

Spotted geranium flowers
Spotted geranium flowers | image by Plant Image Library via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Geranium maculatum
  • Zone: 3-8
  • Where to see: East 1/6 of Kansas
  • Season: April to June

In the eastern portion of the state, you’ll be able to find a variety of wildflowers, including the spotted geranium. It grows in moist, rich woods, displaying lavender or rose-purple flowers with distinct petals. In the past, several Native American tribes used spotted geranium to treat various medical ailments, including wounds, canker sores, diarrhea, toothaches, and heart conditions.

8. New England aster

New England aster flowers
New England aster flowers | image by Alvin Kho via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 
  • Zone: 4-8
  • Where to see: East third of Kansas
  • Season: September to October

The New England Aster is native to the easternmost section of Kansas and may be recognized by the flowers that include ray florets that range in color from reddish-purple to violet-purple. It’s usual to find them growing along the banks of streams, damp meadows, thickets, and roadways. Since its colorful flowers are attractive to butterflies and bees, it’s frequently used in flower gardens and other types of landscaping. 

9. Common sneezeweed

Common sneezeweed flowers
The common sneezeweed flowers | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Helenium autumnale 
  • Zone: 3-8
  • Where to see: East 1/3 of Kansas
  • Season: August to October

Common sneezeweed is a plant that produces solitary or clustered radiate heads with yellow ray and disk florets. Although it’s toxic to horses and sheep when they graze on it, it has been used to induce sneezing, as fish poisons, and as a treatment for intestinal worms. It also thrives in mesic tallgrass prairies, swales, and wetlands in the state. 

10. Showy goldenrod

Showy goldenrod flowers
Showy goldenrod flowers | image by LEONARDO DASILVA via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Solidago speciosa
  • Zone: 3-8
  • Where to see: East 1/2 of Kansas
  • Season: August to October

The showy goldenrod is one of the goldenrod species found in the state, with a narrowly bell-shaped involucre, oblong, yellowish bracts, and yellow ray and disk florets. The Native Americans used the roots of this plant for medicine to treat burns, difficult childbirths, and lung hemorrhages. The name “showy goldenrod” comes from Latin and means “to heal” or “make whole,” referring to its medical properties.

11. Western yarrow

Western yarrow flowers
Western yarrow flowers | image by Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name:Achillea millefolium L. var. occidentalis
  • Zone: 2-8
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: June to September
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The Western Yarrow is a hardy wildflower that grows well in Kansas. It can be found in dry prairies, open woodlands, roadsides, and areas that have been slightly disturbed. The flower heads are small and have bracts that overlap each other with petals on the outer part of the flower that is usually white, but sometimes they can be slightly pink. 

Although it’s unpleasant to cattle, it provides adequate food for sheep and deer. The plant is named after Achilles, who is said to have used yarrow to treat wounds during battles.

12. St. John’s-wort

St. John’s wort flowers
St. John’s wort flowers | image by Thomas Quine via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Hypericum perforatum
  • Zone: 5-9
  • Where to see: Statewide except southwest corner 
  • Season: June to August

The St. John’s-wort is a wildflower that grows well in prairies, pastures, waste areas, and roadsides, especially in sandy soils. The flowers are bright yellow to orange-yellow and have petals with black dots on the edges, and it’s believed that the dark dots on the petals represent drips of St. John’s blood. In some areas, St. John’s-wort has become an invasive plant known as Klamath weed.

13. Bachelor’s button

Bachelor’s button flower
A bachelor’s button flower | image by Carol VanHook via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Centaurea cyanus
  • Zone: 2-11
  • Where to see: Infrequently throughout Kansas
  • Season: July to September 

Bachelor’s Button, a widespread and sometimes invasive species, is occasionally found in Kansas. It grows well in places like roadsides, fields, and disturbed areas but only stays there for a short time. The flower heads, which range in width from 0.5 to 1 inch, have predominantly blue petals but can also be seen in other colors, such as pink, purple, or white. 

14. Showy evening primrose

Showy evening primrose
A showy evening primrose | image by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Southwest Region via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Oenothera speciosa
  • Zone: 5-9
  • Where to see: East two-thirds of Kansas 
  • Season: May to June

Showy Evening Primrose is a beautiful wildflower that grows in dry, rocky soils in many places throughout the eastern two-thirds of Kansas, such as prairies, roadsides, open woodlands, and hillsides. Its flowers measure 1.5 to 3.5 inches across, and feature four white petals, often with a yellowish base that fades to pinkish. The flowers open in the evening or on overcast days and remain open through the morning, closing during the heat of the day.

15. Prairie wild rose

Prairie wild rose
A prairie wild rose | image by USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Rosa arkansana
  • Zone: 4-7
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: May to July 

Prairie wild rose is a beautiful wildflower found throughout Kansas in habitats such as prairies, open woodlands, bluffs, roadsides, and thickets. Its flowers have five pink to deep rose petals with broad notched tips, measuring 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide. Prairie Wild Rose is known for its drought resistance, thanks to its deep-reaching roots.