Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 86 results
Media
Illustration of American black currant leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ribes americanum
Description
American black currant is uncommon in Missouri, known from only one location in Schuyler County. The leaves have orange, resinous glands on the undersurface. A spineless shrub, it bears flowers, and later black berries, in clusters of 6–15.
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 elm leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ulmus americana
Description
Until Dutch elm disease came to America, the large, graceful American elm was widely planted along city streets and was beloved as the all-American shade tree. Now large specimens are rare, since the deadly fungus usually kills trees before they reach fine old ages.
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
white ash leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Fraxinus spp.
Description
Missouri has six species of ashes that you might find in natural settings. They have been very popular as shade trees, and their wood is famously useful. Ash trees of all the species in North America are currently being killed by the invasive, nonnative emerald ash borer.
Media
Illustration of bald cypress leaves and cones.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Taxodium distichum
Description
Bald cypress is an “evergreen” tree that is not evergreen! Like the leaves of hardwoods, its needles turn yellow in the fall and are shed. A tree associated with dark, mysterious swamps, its impressive form also graces many public landscapes.
Media
Illustration of bitternut hickory leaves and nuts.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carya cordiformis
Description
Of the several hickories in Missouri, bitternut hickory is the only one with long, bright yellow buds. Its common name refers to the bitter taste of the nut — but the flavor doesn't put off squirrels, mice, and deer!
Media
Illustration of black gum flowers and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nyssa sylvatica
Description
A close relative of water tupelo, black gum is growing in popularity as a landscaping tree. In the wild, it’s usually found in the Ozarks and Bootheel, but with people planting it in their yards, you might find it anywhere in the state.
Media
Illustration of black willow leaves and catkins.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Salix nigra
Description
In some parts of our nation, black willow is only a shrub, but in Missouri it grows quite large. The largest and most widely known of our native willows, black willow is the only member of its family that reaches commercial size.
Media
Illustration of box elder leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acer negundo
Description
A member of the maple family, box elder is often confused with poison ivy because its compound leaves sometimes grow in threes (though also in fives). A fast-growing tree, its winged seeds betray its relationship to other maples.
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.