Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 21 results
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 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 winged euonymus, or burning bush, Euonymus alatus
Species Types
Scientific Name
Euonymus alatus
Description
Burning bush, or winged euonymus, is a nonnative shrub that has been very popular in landscaping for its bright red fall foliage. But it is invasive and spreads aggressively into natural habitats, displacing native species.
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 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.
Media
Illustration of green ash leaf.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Fraxinus pennsylvanica
Description
Green ash is one of the most widely planted shade trees around homes and along streets. In the wild, it lives along streams and in low grounds. Sadly, it is one of the trees most vulnerable to the emerald ash borer, an exotic invasive pest.
Media
sugar maple
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acer spp.
Description
Missouri has five species of maples that are either native or naturalized, plus several that are known only in cultivation. Maples are important members of native ecosystems. They also provide stunning fall color, welcome shade in summer, commercially important lumber, and sap for syrup.
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.