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13 Common Wildflowers in Nebraska (Pictures)

Nature enthusiasts can find a hidden treasure trove in Nebraska, which is often celebrated for its sweeping prairies and rolling landscapes. From the iconic purple coneflower to the delicate evening primrose, wildflowers in Nebraska display nature’s creativity in a colorful and textured way.

Let’s explore and discover some of the wildflowers in the state in this article. 

13 Wildflowers in Nebraska

State Wildflowers of Nebraska

Nebraska’s state flower is the beautiful Goldenrod, a wildflower that lights up the prairies with its vibrant yellow blossoms from late summer into fall. This hardy plant thrives in a range of environments, from roadsides to woodlands, making it a familiar sight for many Nebraskans.

Beyond the Goldenrod, Nebraska’s wildflower scene is rich and varied. Come spring, you’ll spot the delicate hues of Prairie Smoke and Pasque Flower, while summer brings forth the bright colors of Purple Prairie Clover and Wild Bergamot.

As the seasons shift, the change is mirrored in the colors and textures of the state’s wildflower population, providing a captivating spectacle of Nebraska’s natural beauty.

1. Purple coneflower

Purple coneflowers
Purple coneflowers | image by Jakub T. Jankiewicz via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Echinacea purpurea
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state except lower Panhandle and West Central
    Season: June to July

The purple coneflower is a flora that’s native to Nebraska and can grow in different places like open woods, prairies, and barrens. Its scientific name, “echinacea” comes from the Greek language because its flower heads look like spiny sea urchins.

The plant is developed for its ornamental appeal and has a variety of cultivars. It also blooms from summer into autumn and attracts butterflies and bees, which are necessary for pollination. 

2. Dotted blazing star

Dotted blazing star
Dotted blazing star | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Liatris punctata
  • Zone: 4 – 9
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state but less in the Northeast
  • Season: August to September

One of the wildflowers you may see in Nebraska is the dotted gayfeather which produces spike-like inflorescences with purple or white flower heads. It has a long root that goes deep into the ground and can reproduce in two ways, either sexually or vegetatively. 

They’re tolerant of fire and drought and can be found in a variety of environments, including woods and grasslands. The dotted gayfeather is appealing as an ornamental plant, valuable for restoring the prairie, and useful for supplying nectar for butterflies.  

3. Broadbeard beardtongue

Broadbeard beardtongue
Broadbeard beardtongue | image by Patrick Alexander via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Penstemon angustifolius 
  • Zone:4 – 9
  • Where to see: Panhandle to Central Nebraska 
  • Season: May to June

The Broadbeard beardtongue is a perennial herb with gray-green stems reaching up to 24 inches tall. This species’ pink and purple blossoms attract hummingbirds, and it thrives in grasslands and sandy settings while being drought tolerant. 

If you’re looking for something to add to your landscaping and xeriscaping gardens, broadbeard beardtongue should be among your choices. The Lakota people also used the flowers to make blue dye for painting their moccasins.

4. Blackeyed Susan

Black eyed susan flowers
Black eyed susan flowers | image by John Wisniewski via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Rudbeckia hirta
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Mostly in Upper Panhandle to Central Nebraska
  • Season: June to July

The Black-eyed Susan has a wide distribution across Canada and the entirety of the United States. This kind of wildflower is typically an annual but can also be a biennial or a perennial.

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It has hairy leaves and flower heads that are shaped like daisies. The blooms also have a distinctive brown or black cone of tiny disc florets that are surrounded by yellow ray florets in the center of each flower. 

5. White prairie clover

White prairie clover
White prairie clover | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Dalea candida
  • Zone: 3 – 8
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state but less in Northeast to Southeast
  • Season: June to July

You can find white prairie clover in different places in Nebraska, like prairies, woods, and disturbed areas. It has upright growth that can reach up to one meter in height, as well as deep taproots, and its leaves are made up of small leaflets that are a light green color. The plant also develops dense flower spikes that are shaped like cylindrical cylinders, which attract pollinators. 

6. Common sneezeweed

Common sneezeweed
Common sneezeweed | image by USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Helenium autumnale
  • Zone: 3 – 8
  • Where to see: Mostly in Central regions
  • Season: August to September

In the late summer and early fall, you can see several yellow flower heads with ray and disc florets produced by common sneezeweed. The plant is common throughout North America, primarily in damp places near streams and meadows. 

It draws pollinators like bees and butterflies, and despite its name, it doesn’t make people sneeze or get allergies. It derives its name from the historical use of its dried leaves in making snuff, believed to ward off evil spirits.

7. Butterfly milkweed

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: Mostly in Southeast regions
  • Season: June to August

The Butterfly weed is a wildflower that grows naturally in the state and can reach a height of 1 meter. From June to August, it blooms umbels of orange, yellow, or red flowers that serve as a food source for butterfly larvae and draw bees and wasps for pollination.

Butterfly weed may be grown by seed and enjoys dry soil and full light. However, transplanting is difficult due to its deep taproot. 

8. Common evening primrose

common evening primrose
Common evening primrose | image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Oenothera biennis
  • Zone: 4 – 9
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: June to September

The Common evening primrose is a widely known flower that you can also find in Nebraska. It’s a biennial species that can reach 1.6 meters in height and has lanceolate leaves. The flowers bloom from late spring to late summer, opening in the evening and attracting pollinators. 

Various parts of the plant are edible and have historic therapeutic purposes, such as evening primrose oil, which is produced from the seeds and used as a dietary supplement. 

9. Soapweed yucca

Soapweed yucca
Soapweed yucca | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Yucca glauca 
  • Zone: 4-10 
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state except Southeast
  • Season: May to July

The Soapweed yucca is a perennial evergreen plant that thrives in arid conditions. It has long and narrow leaves that grow in rosettes and tall inflorescences that produce white to pale green flowers that hang down.

Native American tribes traditionally use soapweed yuccas for medicine, food, crafts, and household items, utilizing its leaves and seeds. In addition, the immature fruits and young flower stalks can be eaten.

10. Common sunflower

Common sunflowers
Common sunflowers | image by San Bernardino Nat’l Forest via Flickr
  • Scientific Name: Helianthus annuus
  • Zone: 2 – 11 
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state but less in Central regions
  • Season: September to October
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Sunflowers are huge annual plants grown for their tasty seeds and pretty flowers. Although it’s a densely branching plant with numerous bloom heads, domesticated cultivars frequently only have one huge flower head.

Sunflowers may grow up to 3 meters tall, has rough leaves and an upright stem, and each flower head is made up of multiple little individual blooms, with outer ray flowers and inner disk flowers that develop into seeds.  

11. Upright prairie coneflower

Upright prairie coneflower
Upright prairie coneflower | image by HarmonyonPlanetEarth via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Ratibida columnifera
  • Zone: 3 – 9 
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state but less in Southeast regions
  • Season: Summer

The Upright prairie coneflower, sometimes known as Mexican hat, is a perennial flowering species found in grasslands, plains, roadsides, and disturbed environments. The plant has lobe-bearing leaves and hairy stems, and its inflorescence is comprised of drooping ray florets in yellow, brownish-red, or brown colors that surround a central column of purplish disk florets. 

12. Stiff goldenrod

Stiff goldenrod
Stiff goldenrod | image by LEONARDO DASILVA via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Oligoneuron rigidum
  • Zone: 3 – 9 
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: August to September 

If you’ve been in Nebraska and noticed small yellow flowers, chances are you’ve seen a Stiff Goldenrod. This perennial species is distinguished by broad, light green basal leaves and produces little yellow flowers in corymbs at the apex of the stem and on side stems.

It’s a low-maintenance plant that blooms from late summer to early fall and draws a variety of pollinators, including butterflies and bees. 

13. Goldenrod – official state flower

goldenrod
Image by Manfred Richter from Pixabay

Scientific Name: Solidago gigantea
Zone: 3 – 9
Where to see: Abundant statewide
Season: Late summer to fall

The Goldenrod, specifically the Solidago gigantea, is an icon of Nebraska’s wild landscapes. This sturdy perennial lights up the prairies with its fiery yellow blooms from late summer to fall. Look for its telltale clusters of small, yellow flowers, often found crowning tall, slender stems.

This low-care plant is more than just a pretty face. It’s a crucial part of the ecosystem, attracting bees, butterflies, and other pollinators with its rich nectar. When you spot a Goldenrod, you’re not just seeing Nebraska’s state flower, you’re witnessing a vital link in the natural life cycle.


Where to See Wildflowers in Nebraska

For a wildflower journey in Nebraska, there are plenty of spots where these natural beauties flourish. Whether it’s strolling through tranquil state parks or traversing vast prairies, there’s always a wildflower spectacle to admire.

State Parks and Reserves

State parks like Indian Cave State Park are great starting points. With diverse landscapes and miles of trails, you’ll find a spectrum of wildflowers blooming throughout the year.

The Niobrara National Scenic River is another hotspot. The unique ecosystem here is a hothouse for a variety of plant life, including many wildflowers.

Prairies and Preserves

For a raw, unfiltered experience, try Nebraska’s prairies and preserves. A place like the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center is a haven for many wildflowers. This tallgrass prairie preserve is particularly famous for its stunning displays of the state flower, the Goldenrod.

A quick list of some wildflowers to keep an eye out for:

  • Goldenrod
  • Prairie Smoke
  • Pasque Flower
  • Purple Prairie Clover
  • Wild Bergamot

Each location has its own unique wildflower showcase, giving you a different perspective of Nebraska’s flora every time. It’s a flower-lover’s paradise, from the first blooms of spring to the last colors of fall.

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Louise Robles

About Louise Robles

Louise writes about a wide variety of topics including wildlife, animals, and nature. She's developed a growing interest in animal biology and categorization due to her fascination with how they interact with one another and with their surroundings.