Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 23 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 bitternut hickory leaves and nuts.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carya cordiformis
Description
Of the several hickories in Missouri, bitternut hickory is the only one with long, bright yellow buds. Its common name refers to the bitter taste of the nut — but the flavor doesn't put off squirrels, mice, and deer!
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 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
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 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
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
Shagbark Hickory
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carya spp.
Description
Hickories are an important part of Missouri’s oak-hickory woodlands and forests. They have tremendous economic value, too. Learn about the nine species of hickory found in Missouri.
Media
Illustration of honey locust leaves, thorns, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gleditsia triacanthos
Description
Though it doesn’t reach a stately size, honey locust commands respect for its many large, strong, usually branched thorns, which can puncture tractor tires as easily as they can poke through tennis shoes! The long, leathery, twisting pods are relished by cattle and by wildlife.
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.