Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 15 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 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 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 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 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 lead plant stem, leaves, flower clusters, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Amorpha canescens
Description
Lead plant is a densely hairy small shrub producing tight, elongated spikes of small purple flowers from May through August. It grows in prairies, glades, and savannas.
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.
Media
Illustration of northern catalpa leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Catalpa speciosa
Description
Of the three species of catalpas in our state, northern catalpa is the only one native to Missouri (specifically, the Bootheel region). It has been planted widely, though, and has naturalized in many places. A popular ornamental and shade tree with pretty, orchidlike flowers and long, beanlike fruit.
Media
Illustration of Ozark witch-hazel leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Hamamelis vernalis
Description
Ozark witch-hazel is a large native shrub that grows along dry, rocky streambeds in southern and east-central Missouri. The yellow, ribbonlike flowers bloom as early as January. In the fall, the seeds are ejected forcefully, to a distance of up to 30 feet!
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.