Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 71 results
Media
Illustration of alternate-leaved dogwood leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cornus alternifolia
Description
Dogwoods usually have leaves arranged opposite one another on the stem, except for the alternate-leaved dogwood! This shrub or small tree is a popular ornamental, especially in the northern parts of Missouri, where it can be too cold to grow flowering dogwood.
Media
Illustration of American black currant leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ribes americanum
Description
American black currant is uncommon in Missouri, known from only one location in Schuyler County. The leaves have orange, resinous glands on the undersurface. A spineless shrub, it bears flowers, and later black berries, in clusters of 6–15.
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
Illustration of American hazelnut leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Corylus americana
Description
American hazelnut is a thicket-forming shrub that grows to about 10 feet high. It is prized for its edible nuts, which are covered by a distinctive leafy or papery, jagged-edged bract.
Media
Illustration of American holly leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ilex opaca
Description
American holly is Missouri's most durable broad-leafed evergreen tree. It is best known for its bright red berries and spiny green leaves at Christmas.
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
Illustration of American smoke tree leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cotinus obovatus
Description
American smoke tree is a tall shrub to small tree whose unusual flower stalks look like smoke from a distance. In Missouri it occurs naturally in the western Ozarks, but people use it in landscaping statewide.
Media
Illustration of arrowwood viburnum leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Viburnum dentatum
Description
Arrowwood viburnum is a lovely but critically imperiled Missouri shrub, but the white flower clusters and dark blue berries make it a great choice for landscaping.
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
Illustration of autumn olive leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elaeagnus umbellata
Description
Autumn olive can be found all over the state, since it was planted widely with the best of intentions. Despite its “pros,” this shrub has proven to be very invasive. It threatens native ecosystems and should not be planted.
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.