Wild Plant Field Guide for Ohio


Eastern North America has a rich floral diversity, and Ohio shows that beautifully. It is plentiful in native plants, from bluehearts to rare clubmoss, big leaf magnolias and orange coneflower. Ohio is particularly rich in wildflowers, but also is home to many herbs and trees. Identifying all those varieties is not the work of a single nature walk, and requires resources to guide you to the right places.

USDA Plant Database

  • This is a great resource because of its highly customizable search options. Not only can you search for plants that grow in Ohio, but you can limit your search by criteria such as the color of its flowers, the texture of its foliage, whether it’s a tree or vine and many other options. Because it’s a website, you can’t pick it up and take it with you on your nature walks unless you have a phone capable of Internet access, but if you take pictures of the plants you want to identify, this site makes it easy to look them up once you’re home.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

  • This website allows you to explore plants by state. It has good pictures of each species to help with identification and often has more than one photo so that you can get a look at the plant in different seasons or stages. Some plants have 10 or 20 photographs, but others only have two or three. It also has 14 pages of wildflowers for Ohio alone and features trees and shrubs as well as herbaceous plants. Its large collection of images makes it helpful for familiarizing yourself with you’re looking for.

The Native Plant Society of Northeastern Ohio

  • This website has a lot of resources, but it is focused on the northeastern region of the state. It has a photo gallery of native plants and, because the gallery is user-submitted, you can submit your own photos for display. The photographer retains his copyright to the image. The photos are also helpfully categorized by when the plant blooms, making it easier to narrow down your search if you’re looking for something in particular. The gallery is quite large, often offering more than a single picture of a given specimen, and it’s always growing as more pictures are submitted.

Ohio Trees and Wildflowers

  • This is a pamphlet by James Kavanagh, author of many field guides, with illustrations by Raymond Leung, who illustrates many of the author’s other guides. It was put out by Waterford Press, known for their “field guides for everyone” approach. It's pocket-sized and laminated to make it convenient for taking with you while hiking or walking. However, it is a pamphlet and so doesn’t have the most comprehensive list of plants you’re likely to come across.

Wild Flowers of Ohio (2nd Ed.)

  • "Wild Flowers of Ohio" was written by biologist Robert L. Henn and contains detailed information on more 300 species of wildflowers, along with colorful pictures, diagrams of the flowers and leaf arrangements. It’s small enough to fit in a pocket or backpack and durable so that it can accompany you on hikes or walks. It’s detailed, and a resource reliable enough to be used by college biology students. It does only contain wildflowers, though, so if you’re looking for a guide to trees as well, it will fall short in that area.

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  • Photo Credit Wildflowers in bloom image by DBrashier from Fotolia.com
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