Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 31 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 black haw leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Viburnum prunifolium
Description
Black haw is a small understory tree with beautiful fall color — deep lavender or maroon-purple, finally becoming deep rose-red. Its clusters of blue-black berries, borne on red stalks, happen to be quite tasty. No wonder it has been cultivated as an ornamental since 1727!
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 common buckthorn leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Rhamnus cathartica
Description
You might see common buckthorn for sale at a nursery, but don’t buy it! At least six states have banned this invasive exotic, and the difficult-to-control plant is causing problems here in Missouri, too. Learn how to identify it — and avoid it!
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 eastern red cedar stem, leaves, and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Juniperus virginiana
Description
By far the most common native conifer in the state, eastern red cedar is useful for its aromatic, red wood and beloved for its greenery, its resinous blue “berries,” and the spicy odor it lends the outdoors.
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.
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.