Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

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Illustration of tree-of-heaven leaves, flowers, fruit
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ailanthus altissima
Tree-of-heaven is a fast-growing exotic that is common in urban areas. It is weedy and aggressive and should not be planted. It has 2-foot-long feather-compound leaves. Twigs smell unpleasant when you break them.
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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.