Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 116 results
Media
Illustration of American bittersweet leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Celastrus scandens
Description
American bittersweet is a native woody vine that climbs into trees or sprawls on bushes or fences. Its clusters of orange fruits split into sections to reveal seeds covered with a bright red, fleshy coating.
Media
Illustration of American elm leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ulmus americana
Description
Until Dutch elm disease came to America, the large, graceful American elm was widely planted along city streets and was beloved as the all-American shade tree. Now large specimens are rare, since the deadly fungus usually kills trees before they reach fine old ages.
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 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
Austrian pine
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pinus nigra
Description
Primarily a landscaping tree, Austrian pine sometimes reproduces here on its own, and for this reason it's officially included in the flora of our state. Usually, you find it in urban and suburban ornamental plantings or, if you're out hiking, persisting at old home sites.
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.
Media
Illustration of bitternut hickory leaves and nuts.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Carya cordiformis
Description
Of the several hickories in Missouri, bitternut hickory is the only one with long, bright yellow buds. Its common name refers to the bitter taste of the nut — but the flavor doesn't put off squirrels, mice, and deer!
Media
Illustration of black cherry leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Prunus serotina
Description
Black cherry is prized for its high-quality wood. With its rich red color, it is easy to machine and holds its shape well. Eastern tent caterpillars like black cherry as well, spinning “tents” or bags on the branches for protection while they feed on the leaves.
Media
Illustration of black haw leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Viburnum prunifolium
Description
Black haw is a small understory tree with beautiful fall color — deep lavender or maroon-purple, finally becoming deep rose-red. Its clusters of blue-black berries, borne on red stalks, happen to be quite tasty. No wonder it has been cultivated as an ornamental since 1727!
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.