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.
This small understory tree has beautiful fall color: deep lavender or maroon-purple, finally becoming deep rose-red, contrasting with clusters of blue-black berries, borne on red stalks, that happen to be quite tasty. No wonder it has been cultivated as an ornamental since 1727!
If you’ve got a giant green thicket in your woods, you may have a bush honeysuckle infestation. These invasive plants are shrubby natives of Asia. Here in America, where they have no natural controls, they leaf out early, grow fast, spread fast and form dense thickets that crowd out Missouri’s native forest plants.
By far the most common native conifer in the state, eastern red cedar is useful for its aromatic, red wood and beloved for its greenery, its resinous blue “berries” and the spicy odor it lends the out-of-doors.
Possum haw is the more common of two native Missouri hollies that lose their leaves each fall. This shrub or small tree is eye-catching in the fall and winter when the bright red berries persist on the gray and brown branches and twigs.
MDC protects and manages Missouri's fish, forest, and wildlife resources. We also facilitate your participation in resource-management activities, and we provide opportunities for you to use, enjoy and learn about nature.