Field Guide

Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines

Showing 1 - 10 of 76 results
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 Russian olive leaves, flowers, fruits, twigs, thorns.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Elaeagnus angustifolia
Description
Russian olive is a small tree with distinctive silvery leaves. It was introduced to America in the late 1800s and widely planted as an ornamental and windbreak. But in many states it has proven to be invasive. It is not recommended here in Missouri.
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 fragrant sumac leaves, flowers, fruits.
Species Types
Scientific Name
Rhus aromatica
Description
Unlike its cousin poison ivy, fragrant sumac is a peasant, nontoxic plant. Note the middle leaflet of its "leaves of three": On fragrant sumac, there is no (or at most a very short) leaf stalk on that middle leaflet. Also, fragrant sumac has hairy, reddish fruits (not waxy whitish ones).
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 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.