Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 89 results
Media
Illustration of white fringe tree leaves, flowers, fruits
Species Types
Scientific Name
Chionanthus virginicus
Description
White fringe tree is a shrub or small tree that is native to southwest and southeast Missouri. Its fragrant, showy clusters of white, drooping, fringe-like flowers make it a popular for landscaping.
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
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 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
Illustration of honey locust leaves, thorns, fruit.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Gleditsia triacanthos
Description
Though it doesn’t reach a stately size, honey locust commands respect for its many large, strong, usually branched thorns, which can puncture tractor tires as easily as they can poke through tennis shoes! The long, leathery, twisting pods are relished by cattle and by wildlife.
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 slippery elm twig and leaves.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Ulmus rubra
Description
Found nearly statewide, slippery elm has fuzzy twigs and reddish hairy buds, which often attract attention in wintertime. Its inner bark is reddish and rather slimy, which gives this tree its name "slippery."
Media
Illustration of nannyberry leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Viburnum lentago
Description
Nannyberry is an understory shrub or small tree that grows in low woods, wooded slopes, and rich valleys near streams. It is officially a Species of Conservation Concern in our state, but its rarity here may be because Missouri is at the southern end of its range.
Media
Illustration of sycamore leaves and fruit
Species Types
Scientific Name
Platanus occidentalis
Description
The white, smooth-looking limbs of sycamore rise over countless streams and river banks, as well as over sidewalks and city streets. The leaves, which somewhat resemble those of maples, can reach remarkably large sizes.
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.
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.