Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 25 results
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
white ash leaves
Species Types
Scientific Name
Fraxinus spp.
Description
Missouri has six species of ashes that you might find in natural settings. They have been very popular as shade trees, and their wood is famously useful. Ash trees of all the species in North America are currently being killed by the invasive, nonnative emerald ash borer.
Media
Illustration of bald cypress leaves and cones.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Taxodium distichum
Description
Bald cypress is an “evergreen” tree that is not evergreen! Like the leaves of hardwoods, its needles turn yellow in the fall and are shed. A tree associated with dark, mysterious swamps, its impressive form also graces many public landscapes.
Media
Illustration of box elder leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acer negundo
Description
A member of the maple family, box elder is often confused with poison ivy because its compound leaves sometimes grow in threes (though also in fives). A fast-growing tree, its winged seeds betray its relationship to other maples.
Media
Illustration of buckbrush leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus
Description
Buckbrush, or coralberry, grows throughout Missouri. This familiar thicket-forming shrub bears dense clusters of pinkish-red berries that persist through most of the winter.
Media
Illustration of bush honeysuckle leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lonicera maackii (Amur) and Lonicera x bella (bella)
Description
If there’s a giant green thicket in your woods, you may have a bush honeysuckle infestation. These invasive plants are shrubby natives of Asia. In America, where they have no natural controls, they leaf out early, grow fast, spread fast, and form dense thickets that crowd out native forest plants.
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 common elderberry leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sambucus canadensis
Description
Common elderberry is a colony-forming shrub with opposite compound leaves. Its large, flattened clusters of small white flowers produce purple or black berrylike fruits.
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 gray dogwood branch, leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cornus foemina
Description
Gray dogwood is a deciduous, thicket-forming shrub. Its small, creamy-white flowers occur in branched clusters, and its white or pale blue fruits are supported by red stalks — a characteristic that makes it attractive for ornamental uses.
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.