Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 11 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 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 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 New Jersey tea leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ceanothus americanus
Description
A very small shrub of our native prairies and other open sites, New Jersey tea was used by patriotic American colonists as a substitute for black tea imported from England during the Revolutionary War.
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!
Media
Illustration of trumpet creeper leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Campsis radicans
Description
Each summer, the bright orange and red “trumpets” of this woody vine decorate Missouri’s cliff faces, telephone poles, and anything else strong enough to support it. Hummingbirds zoom to trumpet creeper’s flowers for their nectar.
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.