Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 28 results
Media
Illustration of American bladdernut leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Staphylea trifolia
Description
American bladdernut is a thicket-forming shrub or small tree that grows in moist soils. It produces clusters of bell-shaped white flowers in spring and unusual 3-parted air-filled capsules in late summer that turn papery and persist into winter.
Media
Illustration of American hornbeam leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carpinus caroliniana
Description
American hornbeam is also called musclewood because of the sinewy appearance of its smooth gray bark. The name hornbeam refers to the genuine strength of its wood — it is one of the hardest and strongest woods in North America.
Media
Illustration of bush honeysuckle leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lonicera maackii (Amur) and Lonicera x bella (bella)
Description
If there’s a giant green thicket in your woods, you may have a bush honeysuckle infestation. These invasive plants are shrubby natives of Asia. In America, where they have no natural controls, they leaf out early, grow fast, spread fast, and form dense thickets that crowd out native forest plants.
Media
Illustration of common alder leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Alnus serrulata
Description
Common alder is a good plant to know. The dried female catkins look like tiny pinecones.
Media
Illustration of common elderberry leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sambucus canadensis
Description
Common elderberry is a colony-forming shrub with opposite compound leaves. Its large, flattened clusters of small white flowers produce purple or black berrylike fruits.
Media
Illustration of common prickly ash leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Zanthoxylum americanum
Description
Common prickly ash is a thicket-forming shrub or small tree. Its compound leaves resemble of those of ash trees, but it’s in a different family. Pairs of stout, curved prickles occur at each node. Scattered statewide, but less common in the Ozarks.
Media
rough-leaved dogwood
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cornus spp.
Description
Missouri’s five species of dogwoods are shrubs or small trees with distinctive flowers, fruits, and bark. The fruits may be red, white, or blue. The leaves have characteristic arching veins.
Media
Illustration of eastern leatherwood leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dirca palustris
Description
Eastern leatherwood is a native shrub of bottomlands, stream banks, and bases of bluffs. It has unusual little dangling yellow flowers, and its twigs are surprisingly flexible.
Media
Illustration of farkleberry leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Vaccinium arboreum
Description
Farkleberry, or sparkleberry, is a stiff-branched shrub or small crooked tree growing in loose thickets on rocky soils, mostly south of the Missouri River. A type of blueberry, its black fruits are edible but dryish and mealy.
Media
Illustration of gray dogwood branch, leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cornus foemina
Description
Gray dogwood is a deciduous, thicket-forming shrub. Its small, creamy-white flowers occur in branched clusters, and its white or pale blue fruits are supported by red stalks — a characteristic that makes it attractive for ornamental uses.
See Also

About Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines in Missouri

There are no sharp dividing lines between trees, shrubs, and woody vines, or even between woody and nonwoody plants. “Wood” is a type of tissue made of cellulose and lignin that many plants develop as they mature — whether they are “woody” or not. Trees are woody plants over 13 feet tall with a single trunk. Shrubs are less than 13 feet tall, with multiple stems. Vines require support or else sprawl over the ground.