Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 41 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 box elder leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Acer negundo
Description
A member of the maple family, box elder is often confused with poison ivy because its compound leaves sometimes grow in threes (though also in fives). A fast-growing tree, its winged seeds betray its relationship to other maples.
Media
Illustration of buckbrush leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Symphoricarpos orbiculatus
Description
Buckbrush, or coralberry, grows throughout Missouri. This familiar thicket-forming shrub bears dense clusters of pinkish-red berries that persist through most of the winter.
Media
Illustration of winged euonymus, or burning bush, Euonymus alatus
Species Types
Scientific Name
Euonymus alatus
Description
Burning bush, or winged euonymus, is a nonnative shrub that has been very popular in landscaping for its bright red fall foliage. But it is invasive and spreads aggressively into natural habitats, displacing native species.
Media
Illustration of bush honeysuckle leaves, flowers, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Lonicera maackii (Amur) and Lonicera x bella (bella)
Description
If there’s a giant green thicket in your woods, you may have a bush honeysuckle infestation. These invasive plants are shrubby natives of Asia. In America, where they have no natural controls, they leaf out early, grow fast, spread fast, and form dense thickets that crowd out native forest plants.
Media
Illustration of common elderberry leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Sambucus canadensis
Description
Common elderberry is a colony-forming shrub with opposite compound leaves. Its large, flattened clusters of small white flowers produce purple or black berrylike fruits.
Media
Illustration of hackberry leaves, stem, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Celtis occidentalis
Description
Common hackberry is named for its sweet, purple, edible fruits, but most people identify hackberry with its weird-looking bark, which develops numerous corky, wartlike projections and ridges.
Media
Illustration of cottonwood leaves and fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Populus deltoides
Description
Named for the cottony fluffs of hairs attached to its tiny seeds, cottonwood thrives in moist lowlands near streams and rivers. It is Missouri’s fastest-growing native tree but pays for that distinction by being relatively short-lived.
Media
rough-leaved dogwood
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cornus spp.
Description
Missouri’s five species of dogwoods are shrubs or small trees with distinctive flowers, fruits, and bark. The fruits may be red, white, or blue. The leaves have characteristic arching veins.
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.
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.