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14 Species of Wildflowers in Massachusetts

If you’re around Massachusetts, especially in the spring, you might be curious about the various wildflowers in Massachusetts that produce the state’s breathtaking natural displays. This article will show you some of the various flowers that can be found in the state and help you identify them, from the delicate marsh marigolds to the gorgeous Canada lilies.

14 Wildflowers in Massachusetts

Massachusetts’ state flower is the Mayflower, which some say was chosen in 1918 to commemorate the Pilgrims’ landing aboard the Mayflower ship.

Mayflowers are small, fragrant, pink or white blooms that bloom on a fragile, trailing evergreen vine in early spring. But in addition to this lovely state flower, many more can be seen in the wild.

lighthouse ma wildflowers
wildflowers by a lighthouse in Massachusetts

The state has a diversified terrain that ranges from coastal regions to mountainous places, and some of the wildflowers you can see growing there are the bellflowers, milkweeds, and fireweeds that bloom in the summer, and primrose, marigolds, and wood anemones that bloom in the spring. 

1. Bluebell bellflower

Bluebell bellflowers
Bluebell bellflowers | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Campanula rotundifolia
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Statewide except Worcester, Norfolk, Suffolk and Plymouth
  • Season: Summer

The Bluebell bellflower is a thin, prostrate to erect herbaceous perennial that spreads via seed and rhizomes. The plant features long, narrow leaves on the stalks that bear the flowers, as well as rounded to heart-shaped base leaves.

From late summer to early fall, it produces bell-shaped violet-blue flowers that occasionally are pale pink or white. Bees may pollinate flowers, but flowers can also self-pollinate. 

2. Common evening primrose

Common evening primrose flowers
Common evening primrose flowers | image by Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Oenothera biennis
  • Zone: 4 – 9 
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: Late Spring 

You can find the common evening primrose as one of the most popular flowers in the state. This plant grows up to 1.6 meters tall and has lanceolate leaves that form a rosette in the first year and spiral on a stem in the second year. From late spring to late summer, the yellow flowers bloom quickly in the evening and attract moths, butterflies, and bees. 

The flora’s seeds are a major food source for birds, and its roots, leaves, blooming stems, and flower buds are edible and have been utilized for food and traditional medicine by Indigenous people. 

3. Dutchman’s breeches

Dutchman’s breeches
Dutchman’s breeches | image by Wayne National Forest via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Dicentra cucullaria
  • Zone: 3 – 7
  • Where to see: Statewide except Bristol, Plymouth, and Barnstable
  • Season: Spring

The Dutchman’s breeches is a wildflower that gets its common name from the white flowers resembling breeches. You can identify this species by its leaves, which have three leaflets that are very finely divided, and its flowers, which are generally white and arranged in racemes and appear in early spring. 

The plant goes dormant in the summer, and its alkaloids have been used as medicine for a long time, though they may cause contact dermatitis in some people and be harmful to others.

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4. Bloodroot

Bloodroot flowers
Bloodroot flowers | image by Jason Hollinger via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Sanguinaria canadensis
  • Zone: 3 – 8
  • Where to see: Statewide except Barnstable
  • Season: Spring

Except for Barnstable, Massachusetts has bloodroot growing all over the place. This flowering plant has lovely white blossoms and derives its name from the red and deadly sap it generates. Some studies suggest that it could be used for cancer therapy, but there aren’t enough clinical studies to recommend its use.

Bloodroot prefers to grow in moist to dry woods, thickets, floodplains, and areas near streams. 

5. Indian paintbrush

Indian paintbrush or prairie fire flowers
Indian paintbrush or prairie fire flowers
  • Scientific Name: Castilleja Mutis
  • Zone: 4 – 8
  • Where to see: Statewide except Franklin, Berkshire, Suffolk, and Barnstable
  • Season: Spring

The Indian paintbrushes are among the flowers you may see in the state that are hemiparasitic, relying on the roots of grasses and forbs. They draw pollinators like hummingbirds and insects, and they provide food for the larvae of several lepidopteran species. 

Indian paintbrushes protect specialist insect larvae by having defensive compounds and also influence plant community dynamics. Native American tribes traditionally ate the flowers of Indian paintbrush in moderation for their health benefits.

6. Clasping milkweed

Clasping milkweed
Clasping milkweed | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Asclepias amplexicaulis
  • Zone: 4 – 9
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: Summer

The Clasping milkweed species grow in dry prairies, savannas, open woods, and fallow fields, usually in sandy soil. During the summer, it grows flowers and can reach a height of 1 to 3 feet. It has leaves that are linked directly to the stem and blooms at the top of the plant in clusters with pink-tinged green petals and a pink-to-tan crown. 

While traditionally consumed as food, the species contains a poisonous toxin that’s dangerous to both people and livestock, so caution is advised.

7. Yellow marsh marigold

Yellow marsh marigold flower
Yellow marsh marigold flower | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Caltha palustris
  • Zone: 3 – 7
  • Where to see: Statewide except Barnstable
  • Season: Mid Spring

In the state, yellow marsh-marigold are typically found in marshes, fens, ditches, and wet forests. This tiny to medium-sized perennial herbaceous plant blooms around the middle of spring, with occasional flowers emerging at other periods. It features fleshy rosette-shaped leaves and hollow blooming stems, and this species’ cooked greens and buds are also edible.

8. Red columbine

Eastern red columbine
Eastern red columbine | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Aquilegia canadensis
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Statewide 
  • Season: Spring

Red columbine is a spring wildflower that you may see growing in well-drained soil under full sun to part shade. It thrives in rich and moist soils under light to moderate shade, and can form large colonies under ideal conditions. With its drooping red and yellow flowers that draw hummingbirds and its resistance to leaf miners, this species is a fantastic option for borders, cottage gardens, woodland gardens, and naturalized environments.

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9. Common boneset

Common boneset flowers
Common boneset flowers | image by Nadiatalent via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Eupatorium perfoliatum
  • Zone: 3 – 8
  • Where to see:  Statewide 
  • Season: Summer to Fall

The common boneset is a plant that grows clusters of small white flowers and usually grows in wet areas like damp prairies and alluvial woods. The leaves and roots contain a variety of phytochemicals, but their safety and possible health benefits are unknown.

Native Americans used bonesets to treat fever and common colds. However, scientists need to conduct more research to determine its effectiveness and the correct dosage.

10. Wood anemone

Wood anemone
Wood anemone | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Anemone quinquefolia
  • Zone: 3 – 8
  • Where to see: Statewide 
  • Season: Spring

You may discover the beautiful wood anemone or windflower while walking around in Massachusetts. It has a base leaf and a flowering stem that appear to come from separate plants, but they actually share an underground rhizome. 

Wood anemone has an interesting mythological background related to the god of the winds and the opening of its flowers. The flowers close up during cloudy days and at night to protect their reproductive parts from rain and pollinators that aren’t active. 

11. Cutleaf coneflower

Cutleaf coneflowers
Cutleaf coneflowers | image by Katja Schulz via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Rudbeckia laciniata
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Statewide  
  • Season: Late Summer

One of the flowers you might see in the state is the cutleaf coneflower, which thrives on average, well-drained soil with full sun to part shade. It can handle hot and humid summers and blooms for a long time in mid to late summer. In the wild, this perennial can grow to be up to 9′ tall, with daisy-like yellow blooms with drooping petals and green center disks, as well as deeply-lobed light green leaves. 

12. Butterfly milkweed

Butterflyweed flowers
Butterflyweed flowers | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Statewide  
  • Season: Mid Summer

A lovely wildflower known as butterfly weed can be found in open forests, glades, and prairies, which are in dry, rocky settings. This plant tolerates drought and thrives in dry, nutrient-poor soils. It also produces stunning yellow-orange flower clusters that attract butterflies, so you can consider planting it in your meadow garden amo111111111ng decorative grasses and wildflowers for butterfly habitat.

13. Fireweed

Fireweed flowers
Fireweed flowers | image by Zeynel Cebeci via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Scientific Name: Chamerion angustifolium
  • Zone: 2 – 7
  • Where to see: Statewide   
  • Season: Summer

The Fireweed is a kind of wildflower distinguished by its reddish stems and short lanceolate leaves. It produces magenta to pink blooms with four petals and four sepals, and its seed capsule cracks open to release numerous brown seeds with silky hairs for wind dispersion. Fireweed can also spread rapidly on disturbed ground through wind dispersal and underground roots. 

14. Canada lily

Canada lily flower
Canada lily flower | image by Silk666 via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Scientific Name: Lilium canadense
  • Zone: 3 – 8
  • Where to see: Statewide 
  • Season: Mid to late summer
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The Canada lily is a charming plant with nodding, darker-spotted yellow, orange, or red flowers that bloom in the middle to end of the summer. These species grow in damp meadows and wood margins, and indigenous peoples in North America used to gather and consume the flower buds and roots for culinary purposes.