Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 7 of 7 results
Media
Illustration of black locust leaves and flowers.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Robinia pseudoacacia
Description
Black locust, a member of the bean family, is easy to appreciate in May and June, when its showy white clusters of flowers perfume the breeze with their sweet smell. Bees like the flowers, too.
Media
Illustration of bristly greenbrier leaves, flowers, fruit
Species Types
Scientific Name
Smilax hispida (syn. S. tamnoides var. hispida)
Description
Bristly greenbrier is a stout woody vine with bristlelike black spines, climbing high by tendrils to a length of 40 feet. It is the most common greenbrier in Missouri and is found statewide.
Media
Illustration of catbrier leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Smilax bona-nox
Description
Catbrier is a green-stalked perennial vine with stout spines. It climbs up to 25 feet using tendrils that arise in pairs from the bases of the triangular, heart, or fiddle-shaped leaves.
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 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.
Media
Illustration of Osage orange flowers and fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Maclura pomifera
Description
Osage orange is a densely branched, short-trunked, thorny tree. It bears weird-loooking, softball-sized, chartreuse, brainlike fruits, which often lie beneath the tree in abundance in autumn.
Media
Illustration of prickly gooseberry leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ribes cynosbati
Description
Prickly gooseberry occurs mostly in the eastern half of Missouri. Its spine-covered berries turn reddish purple when ripe. Despite the prickles, they are edible.
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.