Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 21 results
Media
Illustration of American bittersweet leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Celastrus scandens
Description
American bittersweet is a native woody vine that climbs into trees or sprawls on bushes or fences. Its clusters of orange fruits split into sections to reveal seeds covered with a bright red, fleshy coating.
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 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 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.
Media
Illustration of hop hornbeam leaves, twig, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ostrya virginiana
Description
Eastern hop hornbeam is named for its fruits, which are clusters of flattened, papery, scalelike sacs arranged in an overlapping pattern, like scales on a pinecone — resembling the hops that beer is made from.
Media
Illustration of eastern redbud leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cercis canadensis
Description
Eastern redbud is a native shrub or small tree that is distinctly ornamental in spring with small, clustered, rose-purple flowers covering the bare branches before the leaves.
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 golden rain tree leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Koelreuteria paniculata
Description
Golden rain tree is native to China, Korea, and Japan. It was cultivated in Missouri for years. Because it readily escapes from cultivation and is invasive, it is no longer recommended for planting in Missouri.
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.
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.