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13 Types of Wildflowers in New York (Pictures)

New York, the vibrant and bustling state renowned for its iconic cityscape and cultural diversity, also holds a hidden treasure within its borders—a kaleidoscope of wildflowers in New York that grace its landscapes throughout the year. Every season in the state presents a mesmerizing display of nature’s beauties, from the delicate blooms that grace its meadows in spring to the flaming hues that light up its forests in fall. 

This article will show you some of the beautiful wildflowers found in New York and share interesting facts about them. 

13 Wildflowers in New York

The state flower of New York is the beautiful and fragrant rose. Specifically, the rose variety that serves as the state flower is the “Beaverkill Rose,” which is a pink-colored wild rose that is native to the Beaverkill River area of New York.

The rose is a symbol of love, beauty, and passion, and it is commonly used in gardens and floral arrangements. The designation of the rose as the official state flower of New York dates back to 1955.

1. Common elderberry

Common elderberry
Common elderberry | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: late spring to mid-summer

The common elderberry, or black elder, is a species of flowering plant native to Europe. It’s a deciduous shrub or small tree with gray bark and opposite leaves arranged in pairs.

The shrub produces ivory white flowers with five stamens, pollinated by flies, and in late autumn, it yields clusters of glossy, dark purple to black berries. Elderberry is often grown for ornamental purposes and has culinary uses for cordial and wine. 

2. Cardinal Flower 

Cardinal flower
Cardinal flower | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Lobelia cardinalis
  • Zone: 3-9
  • Where to see: Statewide 
  • Season: July-Sept

The Cardinal Flower is a perennial herbaceous plant that thrives in wet environments such as streambanks and swamps. Reaching heights of up to 1.2 meters, it showcases lanceolate to oval leaves with toothed margins and vibrant red flowers with a deep five-lobed structure from summer to fall. Varieties with white and pink blooms also exist, and it’s also known to attract ruby-throated hummingbirds for pollination. 

3. Wild Geranium

Wild geranium
Wild geranium | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Geranium maculatum
  • Zone: 3-8
  • Where to see: Throughout the state
  • Season: late spring

The Wild geranium, also known as spotted geranium, is a perennial plant found in woodlands across eastern North America that produces rose-purple, pale, or violet-purple (occasionally white) flowers, measuring 2.5-4 cm in diameter. 

These lovely blooms, arranged in loose corymbs or umbels atop the stems, add a touch of beauty to the landscape. As the flowers fade, fruit capsules emerge, each containing one seed attached to a distinctive beak-like column resembling a crane’s bill. 

4. Pink Azalea 

Pink azalea 
Pink azalea | image by Mike Dupreee via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Rhododendron periclymenoides
  • Zone: 7 – 9
  • Where to see: Scattered in western, eastern, central and Long island
  • Season: March to May
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The pink azalea is a shrub that’s native to eastern North America, often inhabiting riparian areas and wet-to-dry forests. This species blooms in the spring with lovely pink flowers that have stamens that are 2 inches long and have a pleasant, petunia-like scent. 

Like other members of its genus, this plant contains toxins throughout its flower parts and is commonly found in various ecosystems, including oak-hickory, oak-pine, spruce-fir, maple-beech-birch, and white-ed-jack pine. 

5. Wild carrot

Queen anne’s lace 
Queen anne’s lace | image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Daucus carota
  • Zone: 2 – 11
  • Where to see: Statewide except in some parts of the Central region
  • Season: mid-July to September

The wild carrot is a plant that displays some variability in its appearance. It can grow from 30 to 120 cm tall and has small white flowers that are clustered together in dense groups. The flowers can be pink when they’re still buds and have a reddish or purple center. 

The plant blooms from July to September and resembles the deadly poison hemlock, but it may be distinguished by its tripinnate leaves, tiny hairs on the stems and leaves, and the smell of its root, similar to carrots. 

6. Yellow stargrass

Yellow stargrass
Yellow stargrass | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Hypoxis hirsuta
  • Zone: 3 – 9
  • Where to see: Parts of western, central, and eastern regions down to Long island
  • Season: spring to summer

One of the wildflowers you may find in New York is called yellow stargrass, and it has golden yellow, star-shaped flowers that are between 1/2 and 1 inch in diameter. It thrives in moist to dry prairies, occasionally in open deciduous woods, and you can often see them in abandoned fields and lawns. 

Native Americans used this star grass as a tea for heart problems and the corm to treat ulcers. This plant looks like grass when it’s not blooming, but it’s not actually a type of grass.

7. Purple love grass

Purple love grass
Purple love grass | image by Katja Schulz via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Eragrostis spectabilis
  • Zone: 5 – 9
  • Where to see: Scattered from Central to upper parts of North County down to Long Island
  • Season: late summer to mid-fall

During late summer to mid-fall, you can see purple love grass blooming around New York. With an attractive purple inflorescence at the top of the stem, this erect, tufted grass has a height of between 30 and 70 cm.

You can also find them in sandy or gravelly regions such as roadsides, plains, and woodlands, and they’re resistant to drought, salt, and cold weather. 

8. Rabbit’s Foot Clover 

Rabbit’s foot clover 
Rabbit’s foot clover  | image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Trifolium arvense 
  • Zone: 3 – 11
  • Where to see: North Country down to Long Island
  • Season: April – August

The rabbit’s-foot clover is a flowering plant that grows in plains or mid-mountain habitats at elevations of up to 1,600 meters. From mid-spring to late summer, you’ll notice them having rosy white blossoms marked by silky white hairs on the sepals. Their common name is derived from the look of their blossoms, which resemble a hare’s paw or tail. 

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9. Butterfly weed

Butterflyweed flowers
Butterflyweed flowers | image by Judy Gallagher via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Asclepias tuberosa
  • Zone: 3-9 
  • Where to see: Scattered throughout the state
  • Season: spring to summer

Because of the butterflies it attracts and the quantity of nectar it produces, butterfly weed earned its popular name. From April to September, you’ll be delighted by the appearance of 7.5 cm-wide umbels in shades of orange, yellow, or red.

Each flower boasts five petals and five sepals, creating a stunning display. Interestingly, Native Americans and European pioneers used the boiled roots of butterfly weed to treat diarrhea and respiratory illnesses. 

10. Grass pink 

Grass pink 
Grass pink  | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Calopogon tuberosus
  • Zone: 5 – 11 
  • Where to see: Nearly statewide
  • Season: mid-May to July

The Grass pink is a wildflower in the Orchid family with hairlike structures on its upper petal. The plant is named after its slender, grass-like leaves and has a bulb-like corm that looks like a tuber.

Its flowering stems also showcase one or more flowers, which can be white or range in color from light pink to magenta. Notably, grass pink flowers from mid-May to July, engaging in fascinating pollination interactions with bumblebees. 

11. Common Yellow Wood Sorrel 

Common yellow woodsorrel 
Common yellow woodsorrel  | image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Oxalis stricta
  • Zone: 5 – 11 
  • Where to see: Statewide
  • Season: mid-spring through fall

The common yellow woodsorrel, which grows as both a perennial and an annual, is one of the wildflowers you can observe flourishing in woodlands, meadows, and disturbed places of the state. The plant produces hermaphroditic flowers from mid-spring through fall, and its mature seed capsules explode when disturbed, dispersing seeds up to 4 meters away.

Commonly considered a garden weed, this plant is edible, featuring a tangy flavor. 

12. Boneset Thoroughwort 

Boneset thoroughwort 
Boneset thoroughwort  | image by Fritz Flohr Reynolds via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Eupatorium perfoliatum 
  • Zone: 3 – 8 
  • Where to see: Nearly statewide (not reported in some parts of the Central region)
  • Season: August–October

The Boneset Thoroughwort can be found across the Eastern United States and Canada, thriving in low, wet areas such as damp prairies, bogs, and alluvial woods. You can observe that the plant reaches a height of 100 cm and has serrate leaves that clasp the stems.

Additionally, it produces dense clusters of tiny white flower heads. Native Americans introduced bonesets to American colonists, who used them for breaking fevers through sweating. 

13. Blue flag 

Blue flag flower
Blue flag flower | image by David Berger via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific Name: Iris versicolor
  • Zone: 2-7
  • Where to see: Statewide except in some parts of the Western region
  • Season: May to July

The blue flag iris is a beautiful flowering plant commonly found in sedge meadows, marshes, and along streambanks and shores. Its distinctive blue or purple flowers have six petals and sepals, with a greenish-yellow blotch at the base, and you’ll see them bloom from May to July.

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You should also be aware that the rhizomes of the plant contain a toxic glycoside called iridin, which can harm both humans and animals. 

Where to Spot Wildflowers in New York

State Parks and Natural Reserves

State parks like the Minnewaska State Park Preserve offer beautiful wildflower viewing opportunities. The park boasts of scenic views populated by a variety of wildflowers.

The Adirondack Park, one of the largest parks in the United States, provides ample opportunities to spot wildflowers in their natural habitats.

Botanical Gardens

For a more organized view, the New York Botanical Garden hosts a plethora of local and exotic wildflowers. Some wildflowers you can spot here include:

  • Rose
  • White Trillium
  • Marsh Marigold

From hiking the wild trails of state parks to strolling through the manicured paths of botanical gardens, the opportunities to admire New York’s wildflower diversity are plenty.