Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 16 results
Media
Illustration of Ashe’s juniper needles, twig, fruits, with inset showing overall shape of plant
Species Types
Scientific Name
Juniperus ashei
Description
In Missouri, Ashe’s juniper is uncommon and only found in a few southwestern counties; our populations represent the northeastern tip of its range. Here, it is much less widespread than its close relative eastern red cedar.
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 common prickly ash leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Zanthoxylum americanum
Description
Common prickly ash is a thicket-forming shrub or small tree. Its compound leaves resemble of those of ash trees, but it’s in a different family. Pairs of stout, curved prickles occur at each node. Scattered statewide, but less common in the Ozarks.
Media
Illustration of corkwood leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Leitneria floridana
Description
Corkwood is a rare and unusual small tree that doesn’t have a problem with having its feet wet for long periods of time, but it grows rarer as its swampy habitat is converted to cropland.
Media
rough-leaved dogwood
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cornus spp.
Description
Missouri’s five species of dogwoods are shrubs or small trees with distinctive flowers, fruits, and bark. The fruits may be red, white, or blue. The leaves have characteristic arching veins.
Media
Illustration of dwarf chestnut oak leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Quercus prinoides
Description
The dwarf chestnut oak, though only 3–10 feet tall and the shortest of Missouri's oaks, can nevertheless produce abundant acorns that are relished by several types of birds and mammals.
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 currant leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ribes odoratum (syn. R. aureum)
Description
Golden currant is an erect to arching, spineless shrub up to 6 feet high that bears edible fruit. It is uncommon in the western part of the Ozarks. The flowers have a strong fragrance reminiscent of spicy cloves or sweet carnations.
Media
Photo of a heavenly bamboo, nandina, plant growing in the woods.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nandina domestica
Description
Heavenly bamboo is hardly “heavenly” when it comes to its negative effects on our native plants and animals. A tremendously popular landscaping plant, it readily escapes and is difficult to eradicate.
Media
Illustration of Missouri gooseberry leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ribes missouriense
Description
Missouri gooseberry is our state’s most widespread and common gooseberry. People brave its prickly stems to collect its tart, tasty fruits to make pies, jams, and jellies.
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.