Discover 55 Amazing Types of Purple Wildflowers

Pink-flowered flowers of Primula meadia, the shooting star or eastern shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) flowering in the garden with green background
© Kristine Rad/Shutterstock.com

Written by Nikita Ross

Published: November 29, 2023

Share on:

Advertisement


Did you know there are hundreds of types of purple wildflowers? Purple is one of the most common flower colors. If you feel like you see a ton of purple flowers while on a hike, you’re not alone!

In this article, we’ll list 55 amazing types of purple wildflowers—many of which have several purple species within the genus—and highlight a few standouts worth searching for on your adventures. Don’t miss the full list at the bottom of the article.

Let’s dig in!

Alfalfa

Botanical name: Medicago sativa

Alfalfa, Medicago sativa, also called lucerne. It is cultivated as an important forage crop for farm animals.

Alfalfa,

Medicago sativa

, also called lucerne. It is cultivated as an important forage crop for

farm animals

.

©AndreaObzerova/iStock via Getty Images

This nutritious member of the pea family can be found growing in fields and along coasts all over the world. Growing as tall as 3-4 feet, this resilient perennial branches as it grows, producing clusters of vibrant purple petals at the end of long stems. Some regions call this common wildflower “lucerne.”

Alfalfa is an integral part of agriculture, providing a nutritious snack for grazing livestock. You may have also tried alfalfa sprouts on an artisan sandwich!

American Hog-Peanut

Botanical name: Amphicarpaea bracteata

Amphicarpaea bracteata (American Hog Peanut) Native North American Woodland Vine
Amphicarpaea bracteata

(American Hog-Peanut) has edible roots but is not a true peanut.

©Brian Woolman/iStock via Getty Images

The American Hog-Peanut is a member of the pea family and one of the most unique wildflowers you might come across in the United States. The most noticeable blooms are the elegantly curled purple petals surrounded by an off-white calyx. You likely won’t notice the other blooms at all—they’re underground!

This unique purple wildflower also has two types of seeds, with the above-ground seeds growing in pea-like pods. Their unique appearance also earned them the name “ground beans.”

Bee Orchid

Hover Fly Pollinating Bee Orchid
Ophrys apifera

attracts pollinators of all shapes and sizes.

©David Osborn/Shutterstock.com

Botanical name: Ophrys apifera

If you’re familiar with pollinator-friendly flowers, you’ve likely heard of bee balm; the bee orchid is less known.

This beautiful purple wildflower grows primarily in the United Kingdom. It grows in long stalks with three-petaled blossoms up the side. The delicate mauve hue and unique shape are designed to attract pollinators, making it a vital plant to protect and cultivate.

Bull Thistle

Botanical name: Cirsium vulgare

Cirsium vulgare, Spear thistle, Bull thistle, Common thistle, short lived thistle plant with spine tipped winged stems and leaves, pink purple flower heads, surrounded by spiny br.

Bull thistle is an invasive species in some areas.

©Yavdat/Shutterstock.com

There are several types of purple wildflowers that look like Bull Thistle. While Canada Thistle is closest, the Common Burdock, Panicled Knapweed, and Saw-Wort also bear a resemblance.

These spiky plants grow in large, thick stalks that are challenging to remove. Their fringed purple blossoms look sharp but are quite delicate. Bull Thistle (and Canada Thistle) are invasive as they drain nutrients from the soil and plants around them. If you see them in your yard, consider removing them.

Clasping Bellflower

Botanical name: Triodanis perfoliata

Triodanis perfoliata (Clasping-leaved Venus' Looking-glass) Native North American Wildflower
Triodanis perfoliata

is North American.

©Brian Woolman/iStock via Getty Images

The Clasping Bellflower also goes by “Clasping Venus’s Looking Glass,” named for its unique shiny seeds encompassed by five opening and closing petals.

These beautiful purple wildflowers grow in tall stalks with tiny blossoms along the sides. The vibrant purple shade often takes on a blue tone, adding to its attractiveness. This wildflower is a favorite among gardeners and pollinators alike!

Common Camas

Botanical name: Camassia quamash

Camassia quamash Flowers - Field of Purple Common camas Wildflowers in a Garry Oak Meadow on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

The Common Camas is native to British Columbia, Canada.

©WhisperingOaksPhotography/Shutterstock.com

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the Common Camas has a rich history. This ethereal lavender-blue plant was a hot commodity in the 1800s. Harvesters would ship it from its West Coast home to the East Coast and overseas to England for ornamental display. Indigenous tribes would cook and consume the bulbs for energy.

This stunning wildflower grows in tall stalks with stellate petals, white filaments, and bright yellow anthers.

Corncockle

Botanical name: Agrostemma githago

Agrostemma githago, corn cockle, purple cockle. Close-up photo of flowers.
Agrostemma githago

is also called a corncockle or purple cockle.

©Orthosie/iStock via Getty Images

The Corncockle boasts beautiful flowers ranging from light pink to deep purple. The petals of this herbaceous annual are rotate and symmetrical, with a pale center and deep, eye-catching lines to attract pollinators.

While the Corncockle originated in Europe, it’s become common in North America. These beauties grow no more than 2-3 feet tall, so keep your eyes low to spot them in the wild.

Eastern Coneflower

Botanical name: Echinacea purpurea

A monarch butterfly and

bumblebee

on the same purple coneflower.

©iStock.com/db_beyer

Coneflowers are another herbaceous flower with a rich history. If you’ve ever taken echinacea supplements to help offset cold and flu season, you’ve benefitted from this plant.

A member of the daisy family, Coneflower petals are pink to purple and are a favorite among pollinators. They grow in clusters, reaching 2-3 feet tall in ideal conditions.

Fairy Slipper

Botanical name: Calypso bulbosa

Pink Fairy Slipper Orchids

Pink Fairy Slipper Orchids blooming in early summer in Yellowstone National Park.

©mtnmichelle/iStock via Getty Images

Calypso bulbosa is a stunning species of wild orchid. Its petals are zygomorphic (asymmetrical), with a few stellate petals on the top and a larger petal on the bottom. This unique shape is why many call this flower the Fairy Slipper.

This muted pink-purple flower grows in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia. However, it’s rare in the Northern United States, so consider yourself lucky if you stumble upon one (and leave it untouched).

Foxglove

Botanical name: Digitalis purpurea

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) on the slopes of Waligora mountain, Stone Mountains, Poland.

Foxglove is poisonous to pets, so gardeners beware.

©HAL-9000/Shutterstock.com

While there are several types of foxglove, Digitalis purpurea is the most common. These tall stalks have purple bell-shaped blooms that grow in lush clusters. Don’t confuse it with Agalinis purpurea, also known as “False Purple Foxglove,” which has a less defined bell shape and sparser blooms.

This herbaceous wildflower is native to Western Europe, where you’ll see it along mountain paths and wooded clearings.

Grass Widow

Botanical name: Olsynium douglasii

Douglas' grasswidow - Olsynium douglasii

True to their name, Grass Widows prefer to be left alone.

©Randy Bjorklund/Shutterstock.com

The Grass Widow is a beautiful purple bell-shaped wildflower that grows along the West Coast, from California to British Columbia. The name stems from an archaic term referring to a woman who is separated, divorced, or estranged from her (very much alive) husband. Unlike other wildflowers, these plants prefer a bit of space to grow.

While the foliage resembles blades of grass, this flower bears no close relation to grass species. Grass Widow flowers grow no more than 12-15 inches tall, so look low while out on your adventures.

Hedgemaids

Botanical name: Glechoma hederacea

Spring flowers in the meadow. Spring grass, herbs, wildflowers in forest glade. Ground ivy Glechoma hederacea is aromatic, perennial, evergreen creeper of the mint family Lamiaceae.

Hedgemaids also go by the names Ground Ivy or Creeping Charlie.

©Olena Lialina/iStock via Getty Images

This fragrant wildflower grows in thick carpets that cover the forest floor and may take over your garden. You may know it as Hedgemaids, Creeping Charlie, or Ground Ivy. This furious grower originates in Europe but was naturalized in North America. It’s now considered invasive in many areas.

You can identify this plant via its green and brown-red foliage and pops of pretty purple petals scattered throughout. If you find it, check with your local forestry office to report it and see if any action is needed.

Monkeyflower

Botanical name: Erythranthe lewisii syn. Mimulus lewisii

Selective focus shot of the beautiful great purple monkeyflower

A selective focus shot of the beautiful great purple monkeyflower.

©Wirestock/iStock via Getty Images

Monkeyflowers come in a variety of shades and sizes. Named for their apparent resemblance to a monkey’s face, these whimsical blooms have purple petals with a bright yellow-orange “tongue.” You’ll recognize them by their contrasting shades and asymmetrical petal structure.

This purple wildflower is prevalent along the West Coast, spanning from California to Alaska.

Mother-of-the-Evening

Botanical name: Hesperis matronalis

Purple flowers of dame's rocket Hesperis matronalis bush in garden.

In the evenings, the scent of the Dame’s Rocket (

Hesperis matronalis

) flowers becomes stronger.

©iStock.com/Olena Lialina

Mother-of-the-Evening, also called the Dame’s Rocket, is a European wildflower native to the Mediterranean region. This fragrant flower grows in thick stalks with cruciform purple petals boasting a delicate white and yellow center.

Many describe this lovely flower’s scent as sweet and bright. Don’t be surprised if you notice the fragrance before you spot the blooms on an evening stroll.

Purple Prarie Clover

Botanical name: Dalea purpurea

Dalea purpurea

have unique, cylindrical heads and delicate purple blooms.

©Sean Xu/Shutterstock.com

This unique purple wildflower stands apart from other clovers, boasting a unique cylindrical head and tiny blossoms that bloom from bottom to top. Its foliage is reminiscent of rosemary or thyme, but this wildflower is actually a member of the legume family.

You’ll discover these prairie flowers across North America, swaying soothingly in fields and plains.

Sea Holly

Botanical name: Eryngium planum

Blue flowers, stems and leaves of thorny plant Eryngium planum, or the blue eryngo or flat sea holly.

Sea holly grows in purple-blue foliage and blossoms. Some cultivars are a rare “true” blue!

©Kateryna Mashkevych/Shutterstock.com

While many “blue” flowers are actually purple shades, some cultivars of Eryngium planum achieve true blue. However, you’re more likely to notice the purple shades when you come upon them in the wild.

This unique wildflower is resilient, thriving in dry, undernourished soil and salty coastal patches. You can identify this flower by its distinctive shade, otherworldly jagged foliage, and clover-like heads. While these wildflowers may seem straight out of a Dr Seuss book illustration, you can find them in real life in Europe and Asia.

Sharp-Lobed Hepatica

Botanical name: Anemone acutiloba

Anemone acutiloba (Sharp-lobed Hepatica) Native North American Springtime Woodland Wildflower
Anemone acutiloba

(Sharp-lobed Hepatica) is a Native North American springtime woodland wildflower.

©Brian Woolman/iStock via Getty Images

Despite the name, the Sharp-Lobed Hepatica has soft, rounded petals. You may also know this pretty purple wildflower as a Liverleaf. These pollinator-attractors bloom early in the spring and are often gone by the time most people start their outdoor adventures.

Bright yellow centers and white anthers punctuate delicate white-purple petals. These low-growers only reach a few inches tall, similar to many wild violet species. You can find these beauties throughout damp, wooded areas in Canada and the United States.

Shooting Star

Botanical name: Dodecatheon meadia

Pink-flowered flowers of Primula meadia, the shooting star or eastern shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) flowering in the garden with green background
Dodecatheon meadia

has a unique, chandelier-like appearance.

©Kristine Rad/Shutterstock.com

This stunning purple wildflower offers a unique combination of shapes and structure for a one-of-a-kind bloom that’s a treasure to behold. You can find this lovely wildflower in the Central and Eastern regions of the United States and parts of Canada.

The purple-pink flowers grow upward and curl in, while the yellow stamens grow downward away from the petals, tapering to a triangular point. You may notice several blooms on a single stem, which grows 1-2 feet tall in proper conditions.

A Summary of Types of Purple Wildflowers

Types of Purple WildflowersBotanical Name
AlfalfaMedicago sativa
American Hog-PeanutAmphicarpaea bracteata
AsterAster spp.
Bee BalmMonarda spp.
Bee orchidOphrys apifera
Blazing StarLiatris spicata
Bull ThistleCirsium vulgare
Canada (Canadian) ThistleCirsium arvense
Clasping BellflowerTriodanis perfoliata
ColumbineAquilegia spp.
Common BurdockArctium minus
Common CamasCamassia quamash
Common PhloxPhlox spp.
CorncockleAgrostemma githago
Dagger PodPhoenicaulis cheiranthoides
Early purple orchidOrchis mascula
Eastern ConeflowerEchinacea purpurea
Eastern Smooth BeardtonguePenstemon laevigatus
Fairy SlipperCalypso bulbosa
False FoxgloveAgalinis tenuifolia
Field ScabiousKnautia arvensis
FoxgloveDigitalis purpurea
Giant IronweedVernonia gigantea
Grass WidowOlsynium douglasii
Great Blue LobeliaLobelia siphilitica
HarebellCampanula rotundifolia
HedgemaidsGlechoma hederacea
HyacinthCamassia scilloides
LavenderLavandula spp.
Meadow GarlicAllium canadense
Meadow cranesbillGeranium pratense
MonkeyflowerErythranthe lewisii syn. Mimulus lewisii
Morning GloryIpomoea aquatica
Mother-of-the-EveningHesperis matronalis
Panicled KnapweedCentaurea stoebe
Purple Prairie CloverDalea purpurea
Purple ToadflaxLinaria purpurea
Pyramidal OrchidAnacamptis pyramidalis
SalviaSalvia spp.
Saw-WortSerratula tinctoria
Sea HollyEryngium planum
Sharp-Lobed HepaticaAnemone acutiloba
Shooting StarDodecatheon meadia
Showy OrchidGalearis spectabilis
Spiked LoosestrifeLythrum salicaria
Common TeaselDipsacus fullonum syn. Dipsacus sylvestri
Purple ToothwortLathraea clandestina
Veiny PeaLathyrus venosus
Verbena (Vervain)Verbena spp.
VetchesVicia spp.
VioletsViola spp.
Wild GeraniumGeranium maculatum
Wild IrisDietes Grandiflora
Wild PetuniaRuellia humilis
WisteriaWisteria spp.
This is a summary of types of purple wildflowers.


Share this post on:
About the Author

Nikita Ross is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering plants, gardening, and yard care. Nikita has been writing for over seven years and holds a Marketing diploma from NSCC, which she earned in 2010. A resident of Canada, Nikita enjoys reading in her library, epic beach naps, and waiting for her Coffea arabica plant to produce coffee beans (no luck yet).

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.