Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 20 results
Media
Illustration of black locust leaves and flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Robinia pseudoacacia
Description
Black locust, a member of the bean family, is easy to appreciate in May and June, when its showy white clusters of flowers perfume the breeze with their sweet smell. Bees like the flowers, too.
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 buckthorn leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Rhamnus cathartica
Description
You might see common buckthorn for sale at a nursery, but don’t buy it! At least six states have banned this invasive exotic, and the difficult-to-control plant is causing problems here in Missouri, too. Learn how to identify it — and avoid it!
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 wahoo leaves, twigs, flowers, and fruit
Species Types
Scientific Name
Euonymus atropurpureus
Description
Eastern wahoo is a native shrub or small tree that grows in wooded areas, near streams, and in thickets. In fall, dainty pink or purplish four-lobed fruit capsules dangle from its branches.
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.
Media
Photo of hawthorn trees blooming on lawn of Missouri state capitol
Species Types
Scientific Name
Various species in the genus Crataegus
Description
Our state flower, the hawthorn, is solidly represented in Missouri. There are about 100 different kinds of hawthorns that occupy almost every kind of soil in every part of the state. These members of the rose family are closely related to apples.
Media
Illustration of honey locust leaves, thorns, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gleditsia triacanthos
Description
Though it doesn’t reach a stately size, honey locust commands respect for its many large, strong, usually branched thorns, which can puncture tractor tires as easily as they can poke through tennis shoes! The long, leathery, twisting pods are relished by cattle and by wildlife.
Media
Illustration of Kentucky coffee tree leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gymnocladus dioicus
Description
There’s no mistaking Kentucky coffee tree when its large, tough seedpods are hanging from its limbs or dropping to the ground below. Unpopular as food with today’s wildlife, these seedpods might have fed mastodons and other large, extinct North American mammals.
Media
Illustration of mimosa leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Albizia julibrissin
Description
Grown as an ornamental for its attractive pink flower clusters, gracefully spreading branches, and delicate leaves, mimosa is easily propagated and grows rapidly. Unfortunately, it is also an invasive exotic in much of the state.
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.