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13 Types of Wildflowers in Minnesota (Pictures)

Minnesota is a stunning state that is home to over 10,000 lakes and thousands of different plant species. Many of these species are wildflowers that help support the ecosystem in the state. The wildflowers in Minnesota are more than just something pretty to look at. Many of them provide leaves, pollen, nectar, and seeds for important pollinators.

The wildflowers in Minnesota are diverse and come in many different colors, sizes, and shapes. Additionally, not all the wildflowers in this state bloom at the same time, nor do they all grow in the same type of location. Knowing the specifics of these plants can help you better identify the wildflowers in Minnesota. 

Keeping reading to learn about 13 wildflowers that you may see in Minnesota. 

13 Wildflowers in Minnesota

State wildflower of Minnesota

The state flower of Minnesota is the pink and white Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium reginae), also known as the showy lady’s slipper. This beautiful wildflower is native to the northern regions of North America and can be found growing in wetlands, bogs, and damp woods.

The Lady’s Slipper is a protected species in Minnesota, and it is illegal to pick or uproot them without a permit. The flower has a unique shape and is a favorite among nature enthusiasts and photographers. It was designated as the official state flower of Minnesota in 1902.

1. Purple Milkweed

Purple milkweed
Purple milkweed | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Asclepias purpurascens

The Purple milkweed is one of the most common wildflowers, and it is actually native to Minnesota. This important plant produces clusters of small purple flowers that bloom from June to July. These blooms attract a wide array of pollinators and act as a host plant for several butterfly and moth species.

Purple milkweed is found in thickets, open wooded areas, in fields, and even along the edge of shorelines.

2. Purple Coneflower

Purple coneflowers
Purple coneflowers | image by Jakub T. Jankiewicz via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Echinacea purpurea

Minnesota is home to several different purple coneflower species, with the Eastern purple coneflower being one of them. These purple, daisy-like blooms appear on single stems and typically show up from July to October. Each bloom has a orange-colored disk in the center, and the flowers attract beneficial pollinators to the area.

3. Prairie Onion

Prairie onion flowers
Prairie onion flowers | image by Justin Meissen via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Allium stellatum

The prairie onion is another one can grow between 8 to 18 inches tall and blooms from July to August. These blooms are actually clusters of small flowers that range from light pink to almost purple.

Each one of the flowers have a long stamen that is yellow and makes it easy to distinguish between other wildflower species. The prairie onion is often seen in rocky areas.

4. Leadplant

Leadplant flowers
Leadplant flowers | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Amorpha canescens

The leadplant is a shrubby-type wildflower that can reach up to 3 feet tall. It produces spikes that are covered in small violet blooms. The stems and leaves of the leadplant are covered with hairs that give the wildflower a grayish appearance.

Leadplants are often seen in savannas, dry areas, and mesic prairies.

5. Bottle Gentian

Bottle gentian flowers
Bottle gentian flowers | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Gentiana andrewsii

The bottle gentian is a small wildflower that typically reaches heights of no more than 2 feet. They produce white to a light blue violet blooms that produce at the top of a single stem. They are pollinated by bumblebees and the blooms appear from August to September.

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Bottle gentians thrive at the edge of wooded areas, as well as in wet prairies.

6. Wild Petunia

Hairy wild petunia flower
Hairy wild petunia flower | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Ruellia humilis

Wild petunias produce funnel-shaped blooms that are a violet to blue color. This plant blooms from June to August. Wild petunias thrive in rocky or sandy soil that is dry and in full sun.

They can also be found on rocky slopes, in prairies, and open wooded areas.

7. Tall Thistle

Tall thistle
Tall thistle | image by Superior National Forest via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Cirsium altissimum

The Tall thistles can get rather tall, and can even reach up to 10 feet tall. They produce pink to purple flower heads at the tips of branching stems. These short-loved perennials can thrive in both sunny or shaded areas, and are often seen along roadsides, in thickets or wooded areas, and in fields.

8. Rough Blazing Star

Rough blazing star
Rough blazing star | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Liatris aspera

Also known as gayfeather, the rough blazing star produces a cluster of spikes that can appear in a star-like pattern. These spikes can reach up to 18 inches long and are covered in purple to pink colored blooms from July to September.

The rough blazing star is another one of the wildflowers in Minnesota that can grow in both full sun and shaded areas. It is found in open wooded areas, along the roads, and in dry prairies.

9. Silky Aster

Silky aster flower
Silky aster flower | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Symphyotrichum sericeum

The silky aster can reach up to 2 feet tall, and produces branching stems that are topped with purple blooms. The leaves of this plant are covered in silver-colored hairs that feel silky, thus its name. The silky aster blooms in August, and thrives in dry prairies.

10. Maiden Pink

Maiden pink flowers
Maiden pink flowers | image by John Flannery via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Scientific Name: Dianthus deltoides

The maiden pink is a stunning wildflower that grows between 4 to 16 inches tall. It produces pretty pink blooms from June to August, and attracts bees and butterflies. The maiden pink thrives in disturbed soil in either full sun to partially shaded areas.

You can often see it along roadsides and trail edges.

11. Louisiana Lettuce

Scientific Name: Lactuca ludoviciana

This wildflower also goes by the name western wild lettuce or prairie lettuce, and produces branching clusters of flowers that can be purple, pink, blue, yellow, or lavender in color. These blooms appear from June to September. Louisiana lettuce is a short-lived perennial and can typically be found in open wooded areas, meadows, plains, and prairies.

12. Ohio Spiderwort

Ohio spiderwort flowers
Ohio spiderwort flowers | image by Andrew Cannizzaro via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Tradescantia ohiensis

Also called bluejacket, the Ohio spiderwort grows up to 40 inches tall and produces deep blue blooms that have three petals that are egg-shaped. The stamens of this plant are also deep blue in color, yellow tips, and are covered in plume hairs.

13. Viper’s Bugloss

Viper’s bugloss flowers
Viper’s bugloss flowers | image by hedera.baltica via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Echium vulgare

This weedy wildflower is a biennial that can grow up to 3 feet tall. From June to September, this plant produces bell or funnel-shaped blooms that will grow in clusters at the top of tall stems. These blooms can be purple, blue, white, or pink, and attract pollinators, including honeybees.

However, the viper’s bugloss does contain alkaloids which are toxic to livestock and horses.

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Best Places to see Wildflowers in Minnesota

While you can probably find wildflowers growing in your own backyard, there are certain places that are considered the best locations to view a wide array of wildflowers.

The most common places are state parks, and Minnesota is no stranger to state parks. In fact, this state has 66 state parks, 9 waysides, and 9 recreation areas. 

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum may be the best option for viewing wildflowers in Minnesota. It is a horticultural garden that is an impressive 1,200 acres.

It is a stunning location to view a wide array of different plants and even serves as the extension and research center for the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources.

The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary is another option if you want to view a slew of wildflowers in Minnesota. This location was founded in 1907. It has a wildflower garden that includes 15 acres of meadows, wetlands, and forest.