Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 11 results
Media
Illustration of American hornbeam leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carpinus caroliniana
Description
American hornbeam is also called musclewood because of the sinewy appearance of its smooth gray bark. The name hornbeam refers to the genuine strength of its wood — it is one of the hardest and strongest woods in North America.
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
Photo of slippery elm leaves and twigs.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ulmus spp.
Description
Missouri has seven species of elms that grow in natural settings. Elms have tough, shock-resistant wood. Historically some species were favorite shade trees, which is why so many towns have Elm Streets. But elms have suffered for a century from a devastating fungal disease.
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 Kentucky coffee tree leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gymnocladus dioicus
Description
There’s no mistaking Kentucky coffee tree when its large, tough seedpods are hanging from its limbs or dropping to the ground below. Unpopular as food with today’s wildlife, these seedpods might have fed mastodons and other large, extinct North American mammals.
Media
A closeup of an acorn
Species Types
Scientific Name
Quercus spp.
Description
Oaks are the most important group of trees in Missouri, in both human and ecosystem value. They dominate most of the forests, woodlands, and savannas in the state. Learn more about our 22 species.
Media
Illustration of sassafras leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sassafras albidum
Description
Sassafras, with its aromatic oval, mitten- , and trident-shaped leaves, is rich in both human and natural history, and it can be a spectacular tree for fall color.
Media
Illustration of shagbark hickory leaf and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carya ovata
Description
Many Missouri trees are quite useful, and shagbark hickory is a great example. Its wood makes excellent, slow-burning charcoal, its nuts are edible, and its wood is used for many implements. Wildlife from moths to squirrels to bats appreciate shagbarks, too!
Media
Illustration of shellbark hickory leaf and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carya laciniosa
Description
Shellbark hickory is the largest of the true hickories and has the best-tasting hickory nuts in Missouri. Compared to shagbark hickory, it has larger leaves and more leaflets, plus larger nuts and orange twigs.
Media
Illustration of water hickory leaf and fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carya aquatica
Description
Water hickory grows on ground that is often under water during part of the year. The bitter nuts are consumed by ducks and other 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.