A swamp milkweed in full pink blooms with a bee visiting the flowers.
Swamp Milkweed Milkweed species like this swamp milkweed are a vital source of food for pollinators. © Angie Cole/TNC

Stories in Ohio

Ohio Wildflowers

Discover the amazing diversity of Ohio wildflowers throughout the seasons.

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Ohio has some of the most interesting and beautiful wildflowers. Some are prolific and can grow anywhere, while others are rare, growing only in specific soils and habitats. Our work to protect the lands and waters of Ohio includes protecting the diverse plant communities native to our state. Below, we've highlighted some of the wildflowers you can find when visiting our preserves throughout the year across Ohio.

Special note: We encourage everyone to learn about and observe these plants but never harvest them from their habitats. Many reputable native plant nurseries sell sustainably sourced native plants. 

A tiger swallowtail butterfly on a purple coneflower.
Purple Coneflower A favorite of butterflies, bees and other pollinators, purple coneflowers bloom throughout the summer in prairies and open areas with lots of sun. © William Shackelford/TNC Photo Contest 2023

Summer Wildflowers

In the summer months, Ohio's prairies, wetlands and forests come alive with colorful blooms.

Wetland Wildflowers

Look for these blooms in wetlands, fens, shallow waters, wet meadows and other moist natural areas. Click each image to learn more about the flower.

Milkweeds of Ohio

Ohio is home to 13 native species of milkweed, found everywhere from shaded forests to prairies to wetlands. These summer bloomers have variety of flower colors, from vibrant orange to muted green. Endangered monarch butterflies depend on all milkweed species for their life cycle, making these plants crucial throughout Ohio.

Bright orange butterfly weed blossoms and buds in a green meadow.
Pink common milkweed flowers and buds.
Bubblegum pink blooms and green leaves of Sullivant's milkweed.
A bumblebee sips nectar from pink swamp milkweed flowers.
A close-up of spiky tall green milkweed flower clusters and leaves.

Prairie and Meadow Wildflowers

In the summer months, Ohio's prairies, meadows and open areas are filled with colorful blooms of sun-loving wildflowers. Click each photo to learn more about each plant.

Blazing Stars

Also known as gay feathers, blazing stars are among the most striking summer wildflowers in Ohio prairies. There are about seven species of Liatris that call Ohio home, but only four of them occur around TNC Ohio preserves. Blazing stars are prairie dwellers and important food source for many animals and pollinators.

Pink rough blazing star flowers on a green stalk in a meadow.
A field of light purple dense blazing star in bloom.
Pinkish-purple ccaly blazing star in bloom among green grasses.
A monarch butterfly drinking nectar from a blooming prairie blazing star.
Crested Coralroot Orchid.
Crested Coralroot Orchid Hexalectris spicata © TJ Vissing

A Rare  Summer Flower

Crested Coralroot Orchid

(Hexalectris spicata)

State-listed as threatened in Ohio, the crested coralroot orchid is truly a treasure to see. Up to 15 intricately decorated blooms appear along 12” tall stems, each up to 1” across.

Hikers might not notice these unassuming plants right away, as plants do not have leaves or any other structures that appear above the ground unless they are in flower. And it only blooms when environmental conditions are right, which might not be every year, making it harder to keep track of.

It is a saprophytic plant, meaning it cannot produce its own food through photosynthesis like other plants. Instead, it has a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi in the soil. The fungi grow around the rhizome of the plant and are able to draw out nutrients from other nearby plants to send back to the orchid. 

In Ohio, these plants only occur in a few southern counties. TNC has worked to protect and restore unique habitats that will support biodiversity. These can be found at our Edge of Appalachia Preserve along the Lynx Prairie or Joan Jones Portman Trail.

Bloom time: June—August

A bee on goldenrod flowers.
Fall Meals Goldenrod and other fall-blooming plants are vital for pollinators like native bees, which rely on these flowers to feed and rest as they approach winter. © Chris Helzer/The Nature Conservancy

Fall Wildflowers

These late bloomers provide vital food and shelter to native pollinators, birds and other wildlife before winter comes.

Wetland Wildflowers

Look for these blooms in wetlands, fens, shallow waters and other wet places. Click each image to learn more about the flower.

Asters of Ohio

There are about 30 American aster species that call Ohio home, all blooming in late summer through the fall, brightening up fields, forests, and wetlands. These species vary widely in color and bloom size, ranging from white to bright purple. You can find many species of these fall beauties at all TNC Ohio Preserves.

Pale blue-white crooked stem aster blossoms.
Bright purple New England Aster blooms.
A dewy white panicled aster bloom with yellow buds in the background.
A cluster of three sky-blue aster flowers with more blooms in the background.
A single bluish-white smooth aster bloom with buds in the background.

Woodland Wildflowers

Look for these blooms in forests and open woodlands. Click on each image to learn more about the flower.

Goldenrods of Ohio

Beginning in early September, TNC Ohio’s prairies and forests begin to light up with goldenrod’s tiny, bright yellow blooms. Like asters, there are several species of goldenrod native to Ohio, and all attract a variety of insects seeking end of the season pollen and nectar. Once their flowers turn to seed, goldenrods are a food source for birds.

A monarch butterfly on blooming Canada goldenrod.
Gray goldenrod in full bloom against dark green leaves.
Showy goldenrod in field under a blue sky.
A cluster of bright yellow stiff goldenrod flowers along a dark green stem.
A zigzag row of small yellow wreath goldenrod flowers arranged along a green stem.

Prairie and Meadow Wildflowers

As winter approaches, prairies and meadows the last blooming wildflowers in Ohio provide essential food and shelter to pollinators and wildlife.

A white trillium bloom.
White Trillium A common spring woodland wildflower, white trillium are found in every county in Ohio. © TJ Vissing

Spring Wildflowers

From the early blooming skunk cabbage to the rare wild lupine, spring is a peak season for wildflower spotting in Ohio's natural areas.

Wetland Wildflowers

Look for these blooms in wetlands, fens, shorelines and wet woodlands. Click on each image to learn more about the flower.

Wild blue lupine in bloom.
Wild Blue Lupine © Randall L. Schieber

A Rare Spring Wildflower

Blue Lupine

(Lupinus perennis)

Each spring, the oak savannas of our Kitty Todd Nature Preserve light up with the brilliant blue-purple spikes of wild blue lupine flowers. Lupine thrives in the sandy soils of the Oak Openings region of northwest Ohio. While the blooms attract visitors from all over the region, they also attract pollinators, including the endangered Karner blue butterfly, whose caterpillar relies on lupine as its only host plant.

Bloom time: mid-May through early June

Woodland Wildflowers

Look for these blooms in forests and woodlands. Click on each image to learn more about the flower.