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14 Wildflowers in South Dakota

If you have ever visited the state of South Dakota, you would have witnessed its beautiful scenery and surely been captivated by the wildflowers that cover the landscape. The wildflowers in South Dakota add beauty to the state and serve as valuable plants that attract many species of animals. Additionally, some of these wildflowers even serve as indicators for the arrival of the spring season.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the state’s most popular flowers so you can learn more about them. 

14 Wildflowers in South Dakota

State wildflowers of South Dakota

With over 200 species of wildflowers found in the state, it’s no wonder that South Dakota designated the Pasque Flower as its official state wildflower in 1903. This small, fuzzy flower is a popular symbol of spring in South Dakota, and its unique appearance and cultural significance make it a beloved part of the state’s natural heritage.

Whether you’re exploring the prairies, woodlands, or wetlands of South Dakota, you’re sure to encounter a wide variety of beautiful wildflowers in every season.

1. Pasqueflower

Eastern pasqueflowers
Eastern pasqueflowers | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Anemone patens
  • Bloom period: March – May

The pasqueflower holds great significance to South Dakota, as it proudly stands as the state flower. When the pasqueflower produces its first bloom, it clearly indicates that winter is over and spring has begun. You can identify the flowers by their white to deep lavender petal-like sepals and stems covered in silky hairs, that help protect the flowers when the temperature is cold. 

2. Gunnison’s Mariposa Lily

Gunnison’s mariposa lily
Gunnison’s mariposa lily | image by John Game via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Calochortus gunnisonii
  • Bloom period: June – August

The Gunnison mariposa lily is a flower that belongs to the family of lilies and can be found flourishing in arid environments. Many gardeners are drawn to this species due to the deeply cupped flowers that it produces. These flowers’ recurved edges give them an elegant and distinctive appearance compared to other plants. It serves as a tasty and nourishing snack for various animals, including rodents and pollinators

3. Stemless Hymenoxys

Stemless hymenoxys
Stemless hymenoxys | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Tetraneuris acaulis
  • Bloom period: June – September

The Stemless Hymenoxys, a perennial herb found in South Dakota, has a blooming period that spans from June through September. With its stemless nature, this herb thrives in the foothills and subalpine regions of South Dakota, particularly in areas such as the Roof and Canyons trails. The plant can reach a maximum height of 2 feet. Its vibrant flowers, which display a yellow shade, consist of various florets ranging from 8 to 21. 

4. Rocky Mountain Iris

Rocky mountain iris
Rocky mountain iris | image by Jerry Friedman via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Iris missouriensis
  • Bloom period: May – June

The Rocky Mountain Iris, a native plant in western North America, thrives in a wide range of habitats, from high mountain elevations to coastal hills. It displays leaves that are shaped like swords and a slender stem that various North American tribes use for cordage purposes. Flowers of rocky mountain iris range from lilac to purple, with sepals that spread or reflex and petals that stand erect. 

5. Wild Blue Flax

Wild blue flax
Wild blue flax | image by Andrey Zharkikh via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Linum lewisii
  • Bloom period: June – August

This wildflower known as Wild Blue Flax is admired for its usefulness in the natural world, serving as a food source for a variety of animals, including birds, antelopes, and deer. It grows on ridges and dry slopes, and isn’t aggressive towards other plants, which makes it an ideal choice for enhancing the beauty of any garden. Their flowers’ pale blue or lavender-to-white coloration attracts many people, as they open in the morning and gradually fade by noon. 

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6. Goatsbeard

Goatsbeard | image by Andreas Rockstein via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Tragopogon dubius
  • Bloom period: May – August

Another wildflower you’ll see in South Dakota is the goatsbeard, an introduced species originally from Europe. You’ll discover them in warm and sheltered spots that provide enough moisture to its soil, displaying its yellow flowers from the months of May to August. The flowers open early in the morning and frequently close up by late afternoon. Native Americans apparently like to consume the roots, which have been described as having a flavor similar to that of oysters.

7. Harebell

Harebell | image by Tero Karppinen via Flickr | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Campanula rotundifolia
  • Bloom period: July – August

The Harebells are flowers that can range in color from blue to lavender, and the plants that produce them can grow as tall as 15 inches. Bees typically pollinate this flower, but it’s also capable of self-pollination without relying on the assistance of insects. These lovely flowers typically bloom in dry, nutrient-poor heaths and grasslands from July to August. 

8. Woolly Verbena

Hoary vervain flowers
Hoary vervain flowers | image by FordRanger via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0
  • Scientific name: Verbena stricta
  • Bloom period: June – September

The Woolly Verbena, known for its versatility and hardiness, grows abundantly throughout various regions of North America, including South Dakota. The plant can reach a maximum height of 4 feet, showcasing spikes that bear purple flower clusters. Many butterfly gardens often feature this plant due to its ability to serve as a perfect food source for the larval form of the common buckeye butterfly. 

9. Missouri Milkvetch

Missouri milkvetch
Missouri milkvetch | image by Matt Lavin via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Astragalus missouriensis
  • Bloom period: June – August

The Missouri Milkvetch, a native to central North America, thrives in the region with blooms that can be observed from the months of June to August in South Dakota. You’ll only find these plants on the low ground, as they bear green to whitish leaves and have a short stem. The flowers of Missouri Milkvetch range from rose to purple with sepals that are covered in fine hairs. 

10. Wavyleaf Thistle

Wavyleaf thistle flowers
Wavyleaf thistle flowers | image by USDA NRCS Montana via Flickr
  • Scientific name: Cirsium undulatum
  • Bloom period: June – September

The wavyleaf thistle, a plant that you’ll see in various habitats, manages to attract a wide range of butterfly species. You can identify them by observing their leaves, which possess wavy edges and are characterized by shallow-toothed lobes.

In addition, the entire plant can reach a height of up to 79 inches. The flowers display a range of colors, from white to lavender or pink, that bloom from the month of June until September. 

11. 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
  • Bloom period: June – August

The Blackeyed Susan, a common wildflower, blooms in South Dakota from June to August. You can easily identify this plant by observing its daisy-like flowers, which feature a distinctive cone-shaped dome in shades of brown or black. Many butterfly species are also attracted to it, and it serves as the larval host for species such as the bordered patch, gorgone checkerspot, and silvery checkerspot.

12. Prairie Coneflower

Upright prairie coneflower
Upright prairie coneflower | image by HarmonyonPlanetEarth via Wikimedia Commons | CC BY 2.0
  • Scientific name: Ratibida columnifera
  • Bloom period: July – August

If you visit South Dakota during the months of July to August, chances are that you’ll witness the prairie coneflowers blooming in various sunny locations with well-drained soil, such as upland prairies, pastures, and roadsides. This plant can grow to be as tall as four feet, and its flowers are made up of four to twelve drooping ray florets that are either yellow, brownish-red, or brown with yellow borders. 

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13. Rocky Mountain Gayfeather

Rocky mountain gayfeather
Rocky mountain gayfeather | image by Joshua Mayer via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Scientific name: Liatris ligulistylis
  • Bloom period: Late July – September

The Rocky Mountain Gayfeather, also called the meadow blazing star, frequently attracts monarch butterflies and serves as an ideal host plant for the bleeding flower moth. The purple flowers grow on dense spikes, displaying translucent, jagged, and usually purple edges that fold inward. 

14. Purple Coneflower

Narrow-leaved purple coneflower
Narrow-leaved purple coneflower | image by Patrick Alexander via Flickr
  • Scientific name: Echinacea angustifolia
  • Bloom period: June – July

The purple coneflower is one of the state’s wildflowers, and its blooming season in South Dakota spans from June to July. This species can be found growing in abundance in the Historic area, as well as along the Canyons Trail and the Roof Trail. It has flower petals ranging in color from white to pink or deep purple, and the flower head can be green or reddish-brown.

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