Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 63 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 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 holly leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ilex opaca
Description
American holly is Missouri's most durable broad-leafed evergreen tree. It is best known for its bright red berries and spiny green leaves at Christmas.
Media
Illustration of American smoke tree leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cotinus obovatus
Description
American smoke tree is a tall shrub to small tree whose unusual flower stalks look like smoke from a distance. In Missouri it occurs naturally in the western Ozarks, but people use it in landscaping statewide.
Media
Illustration of autumn olive leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elaeagnus umbellata
Description
Autumn olive can be found all over the state, since it was planted widely with the best of intentions. Despite its “pros,” this shrub has proven to be very invasive. It threatens native ecosystems and should not be planted.
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 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 black oak leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Quercus velutina
Description
Black oak grows throughout Missouri, in upland woods, on glades, and along borders of woods and fields. It and scarlet oak were the primary colonizers of Ozark pinelands when the native pines were cleared in the early 1900s.
Media
Illustration of blackjack oak leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Quercus marilandica
Description
Blackjack oak is common in dry upland woods, especially ones that have been badly burned. It can grow on the poorest soils. It is rugged but not worth much as lumber. It's one of the first trees to be used as fuel.
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.
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.