Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines
Native to Europe and Asia, European, or black alder is planted widely as an ornamental. In some parts of the United States and elsewhere in the world, this species becomes weedy, even invasive. In Missouri, you are most likely to encounter it in landscaped areas, and not in the wild.
The star-shaped leaves of sweet gum become even more striking in the autumn, when they turn various shades of gold, red, pink, and purple, often on the same tree — sometimes even on the same leaf!
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.