Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 55 results
Media
sugar maple
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acer spp.
Description
Missouri has five species of maples that are either native or naturalized, plus several that are known only in cultivation. Maples are important members of native ecosystems. They also provide stunning fall color, welcome shade in summer, commercially important lumber, and sap for syrup.
Media
Illustration of Carolina moonseed leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cocculus carolinus
Description
Carolina moonseed is a slender, twining vine. It is scattered in southern and eastern Missouri. It bears clusters of bright red, somewhat flattened fruits. The disk-shaped seeds are spiraled like a snail shell.
Media
Illustration of common moonseed leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Menispermum canadense
Description
Common moonseed is a rather slender, twining vine that climbs or sprawls. It occurs nearly statewide. It bears clusters of bluish-black fruits. The seeds are flattened, with a raised edge shaped like a crescent moon.
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
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
horizontal image of southern black haw illustration
Species Types
Scientific Name
Viburnum rufidulum
Description
Southern black haw is an irregularly branched shrub with shiny, dark green, opposite leaves whose lower surface is paler with scattered rusty hairs, especially on the veins. It bears clusters of white flowers, which turn into bluish-black fruits.
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. In the past, 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
Illustration of Ashe’s juniper needles, twig, fruits, with inset showing overall shape of plant
Species Types
Scientific Name
Juniperus ashei
Description
In Missouri, Ashe’s juniper is uncommon and only found in a few southwestern counties; our populations represent the northeastern tip of its range. Here, it is much less widespread than its close relative eastern red cedar.
Media
Carolina buckthorn, illustration of branch with leaves and fruit
Species Types
Scientific Name
Rhamnus caroliniana (syn. Frangula caroliniana)
Description
Carolina buckthorn occurs in the southeastern half of Missouri. It’s a shrub with several main stems, or a small tree potentially reaching 40 feet high, with a trunk diameter of up to 8 inches. Despite the name, there are no thorns.
Media
Illustration of eastern redbud leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cercis canadensis
Description
Eastern redbud is a native shrub or small tree that is distinctly ornamental in spring with small, clustered, rose-purple flowers covering the bare branches before the leaves.
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.