Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 66 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
amur corktree
Species Types
Scientific Name
Phellodendron amurense
Description
Amur corktree is a non-native tree that is becoming naturalized in our state. Originally introduced for landscape planting, it has proven itself invasive in the northeastern United States and has shown invasive tendencies in St. Louis.
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 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 black haw leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Viburnum prunifolium
Description
Black haw is a small understory tree with beautiful fall color — deep lavender or maroon-purple, finally becoming deep rose-red. Its clusters of blue-black berries, borne on red stalks, happen to be quite tasty. No wonder it has been cultivated as an ornamental since 1727!
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
Illustration of buckbrush leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus
Description
Buckbrush, or coralberry, grows throughout Missouri. This familiar thicket-forming shrub bears dense clusters of pinkish-red berries that persist through most of the winter.
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 buttonbush leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cephalanthus occidentalis
Description
White flowers clustered in round balls give buttonbush its name. It's always found near water, and thickets of buttonbush help protect lakeshores from wave action. This shrub is also planted as an ornamental.
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.