Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 16 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 butternut compound leaf and nuts.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Juglans cinerea
Description
Butternut, or white walnut, is closely related to the more common black walnut. Both have delicious edible nuts, and both are valued for their wood. Butternut, however, is declining due to a usually fatal fungal disease.
Media
Callery Pear
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pyrus calleryana
Description
'Bradford', a type of Callery pear, has been hugely popular in landscaping, but it can escape and hybridize with relatives. Alarmingly, it has become an invasive plant. Learn more about this problem tree.
Media
Illustration of downy serviceberry leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Amelanchier arborea
Description
Downy serviceberry is a tall shrub or small tree found throughout Missouri in open or rocky woods. The showy white flowers are among the first of the early spring trees and shrubs to bloom. The striking flowers, the purplish, often sweet berries, and the brilliant fall color make serviceberry an attractive landscaping tree.
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
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
european black alder
Species Types
Scientific Name
Alnus glutinosa
Description
Native to Europe and Asia, European, or black alder is planted widely as an ornamental. In some parts of the United States and elsewhere in the world, this species becomes weedy, even invasive. In Missouri, you are most likely to encounter it in landscaped areas, and not in the wild.
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
jack pine
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pinus banksiana
Description
Native to the northeastern United States and Canada, jack pine has been introduced in many other places, including Missouri. This scrubby tree is planted as an ornamental, for windbreaks, or for erosion control. It reproduces locally in and around places where it has been planted.
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.
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.