Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 42 results
Media
Illustration of alternate-leaved dogwood leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cornus alternifolia
Description
Dogwoods usually have leaves arranged opposite one another on the stem, except for the alternate-leaved dogwood! This shrub or small tree is a popular ornamental, especially in the northern parts of Missouri, where it can be too cold to grow flowering dogwood.
Media
Illustration of black cherry leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Prunus serotina
Description
Black cherry is prized for its high-quality wood. With its rich red color, it is easy to machine and holds its shape well. Eastern tent caterpillars like black cherry as well, spinning “tents” or bags on the branches for protection while they feed on the leaves.
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 bristly greenbrier leaves, flowers, fruit
Species Types
Scientific Name
Smilax hispida (syn. S. tamnoides var. hispida)
Description
Bristly greenbrier is a stout woody vine with bristlelike black spines, climbing high by tendrils to a length of 40 feet. It is the most common greenbrier in Missouri and is found statewide.
Media
Callery Pear
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pyrus calleryana
Description
'Bradford', a type of Callery pear, has been hugely popular in landscaping, but it can escape and hybridize with relatives. Alarmingly, it has become an invasive plant. Learn more about this problem tree.
Media
Illustration of Carolina moonseed leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cocculus carolinus
Description
Carolina moonseed is a slender, twining vine. It is scattered in southern and eastern Missouri. It bears clusters of bright red, somewhat flattened fruits. The disk-shaped seeds are spiraled like a snail shell.
Media
Illustration of hackberry leaves, stem, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Celtis occidentalis
Description
Common hackberry is named for its sweet, purple, edible fruits, but most people identify hackberry with its weird-looking bark, which develops numerous corky, wartlike projections and ridges.
Media
Illustration of common moonseed leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Menispermum canadense
Description
Common moonseed is a rather slender, twining vine that climbs or sprawls. It occurs nearly statewide. It bears clusters of bluish-black fruits. The seeds are flattened, with a raised edge shaped like a crescent moon.
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
Illustration of cupseed leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Calycocarpum lyonii
Description
Cupseed is a relatively stout, robust twining vine that dies back to the ground in severe winters. It is scattered south of the Missouri River. It bears clusters of black fruits. The seeds are shaped like little cups.
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.