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Woody plants are perennials (plants that live more than two years) that create stiff structures above ground that they use throughout their lives.   They may be divided into three groups:  trees, shrubs and vines.   Trees and shrubs are self-supporting.  Vines climb on other plants or on inanimate structures like a fence or a wall.  They all develop an inner "backbone" - wood - for support and a tough outer "skin" - bark - for protection.  This strategy allows them to get closer to the sun.  All plants are in competition with each other for sunlight, which is the energy source that they capture to power photosynthesis within their cells.  Any plant that can grow taller than its neighbors will be more successful in this competition.  A woody stem allows this.


Black Locust tree cookie.jpg (37506 bytes)

In order to move water and nutrients efficiently within themselves, woody plants had to develop a plumbing system.  Just underneath the bark is a layer of plant tissues that serves this function.  This is actually the only part of the trunk that is alive.  It is called the Cambial Layer (red arrow).   Within the cambial layer, one kind of tissue transports liquids from the roots to the leaves.  This is called the Xylem.  Another transports liquids from the leaves to the roots and also laterally above ground.  This is called the Phloem.   As the plant grows it constantly renews both of these.  Only the new xylem and phloem transport water and nutrients.  The old xylem tissue becomes the wood and the old phloem tissue becomes the bark.  Since this tissue creation is very slow in winter, the creation of new wood slows down, resulting in an annual growth ring (blue arrow) that can be seen in this cross-section of a Black Locust tree branch. 


Other perennials, such as grasses, persist from year-to-year only in their root and root crown.  They do not re-use in the following year the structures they build above ground during the growing season.  They succeed through prolific seed-production, a greater tolerance for dry conditions and the ability to recover rapidly from a catastrophic environmental disturbance such as a fire or a flood.

This list is drawn from "Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines in Kansas", by H. A. Stephens, University of Kansas Press, 1969.  It includes 114 species.  The taxonomic order of families follows the second edition of the "Flora of the Great Plains", University of Kansas press, 1991.  It is meant to be representative rather than a complete listing for Kansas.

For a pdf version of this list, click here Kansas woody plants list
(On a Windows system, download the file by right clicking on the link and choose "Save Target As" to save it to your hard drive, then open it from there.   You will need Acrobat Reader to view this file.  If you don't have that software already, you can get it for free from Adobe.)

Species portrait web pages have been done for Cottonwood, Osage Orange, Eastern Red Cedar, Coralberry, Redbud, Sycamore and Poison Ivy.


Cypress Family (Cupressaceae)
    Eastern Red Cedar - Juniperus virginiana
Custard Apple Family (Annonaceae)
    Pawpaw - Asimina triloba
Laurel Family (Lauraceae)
    Sassafras - Sassafras albidum
    Spicebush - Lindera benzoin
Birthwort Family (Aristolochiaceae)
    Wooly Pipevine - Aristolochia tomentosa
Moonseed Family (Menispermaceae)
    Snailseed - Cocculus carolinus
    Moonseed - Menispermum canadense
Sycamore Family (Platanaceae)
    Sycamore - Platanus occidentalis
Elm Family (Ulmaceae)
    Red Elm - Ulmus rubra
    Siberian Elm - Ulmus pumila
    American Elm - Ulmus americana
    Hackberry - Celtis occidentalis
    Dwarf Hackberry - Celtis tenuifolia
    Sugarberry - Celtis laevigata
Mulberry Family (Moraceae)
    Red Mulberry - Morus rubra
    Osage Orange - Maclura pomifera
Walnut Family (Juglandaceae)
    Black Walnut - Juglans nigra
    Pecan - Carya illinoensis
    Bitternut Hickory - Carya cordiformis
    Shagbark Hickory - Carya ovata
    Kingnut Hickory - Carya laciniosa
    Mockernut Hickory - Carya tomentosa
    Black Hickory - Carya texana
Oak Family (Fagaceae)
    White Oak - Quercus alba
    Post Oak - Quercus stellata
    Bur Oak - Quercus macrocarpa
    Chestnut Oak - Quercus muhlenbergii
    Red Oak - Quercus borealis
    Pin Oak - Quercus palustris
    Shumard's Oak - Quercus shumardii
    Black Oak - Quercus velutina
    Black Jack Oak - Quercus marilandica
    Shingle Oak - Quercus imbricaria
Birch Family (Betulaceae)
    Hazelnut - Corylus americana
    Ironwood - Ostrya virginiana
    River Birch - Betula nigra
Linden Family (Tiliaceae)
    Basswood - Tilia americana
Tamarisk Family (Tamaricaceae)
    Salt Cedar - Tamarix sp.
Willow Family (Salicaceae)
    Silver Poplar - Populus alba
    Cottonwood - Populus deltoides
    Black Willow - Salix nigra
    Carolina Willow - Salix caroliniana
    Peach-leaved Willow - Salix amygdaloides
    Sandbar Willow - Salix exigua
    Prairie Willow - Salix humilis
Sapodilla Family (Sapotaceae)
    Wooly Buckthorn - Bumelia lanuginosa
Ebony Family (Ebenaceae)
    Persimmon - Diospyros virginiana
Currant Family (Grossulariaceae)
    Wild Gooseberry - Ribes americanum
    Golden Currant - Ribes odoratum
Rose Family (Rosaceae)
    Wild Crabapple - Pyrus ioensis
    June Berry - Amelanchier arborea
    Cockspur Hawthorn - Crataegus crus-galli
    Red Haw - Crataegus mollis
    Black Raspberry - Rubus occidentalis
    Dewberry - Rubus flagellaris
    Highbush Blackberry - Rubus ostryifolius
    Climbing Prairie Rose - Rosa setigera
    Prairie Rose - Rosa arkansana
    Wild Plum - Prunus americana
    Wild Goose Plum - Prunus hortulana
    Sandhill Plum - Prunus angustifolia
    Black Cherry - Prunus serotina
    Choke Cherry - Prunus virginana
Caesalpina Family (Caesalpinaceae)
    Kentucky Coffee Tree - Gymnocladus dioica
    Honey Locust - Gleditsia triacanthos
    Redbud  - Cercis canadensis
Bean Family (Fabaceae)
    Leadplant - Amorpha canescens
    False Indigo - Amorpha fruticosa
    Black Locust - Robinia pseudo-acacia
Oleaster Family (Elaeagnaceae)
    Russian Olive - Eleagnus angustifolia
Dogwood Family (Cornaceae)
    Roughleaved Dogwood - Cornus drummondii
    Swamp Dogwood - Cornus amomum
Christmas Mistletoe Family (Viscaceae)
    Mistletoe - Phoradendron serotinum
Staff Tree Family (Celastraceae)
    Wahoo - Euonymus atropurpureus
    Bittersweet - Celastrus scandens
Buckthorn Family (Rhamnaceae)
    Buckthorn - Rhamnus lanceolata
    New Jersey Tea - Ceanothus americanus
Grape Family (Vitaceae)
    Raccoon Grape - Ampelopsis cordata
    Virginia Creeper - Parthenocissus quinquefolia
    Riverbank Grape - Vitis riparia
Bladdernut Family (Staphyleaceae)
    Bladdernut - Staphylea trifolia
Soapberry Family (Sapindaceae)
    Soapberry - Sapindus saponaria
Buckeye Family (Hippocastanaceae)
    Western Buckeye - Aesculus glabra
Maple Family (Aceraceae)
    Sugar Maple - Acer saccharum
    Silver Maple - Acer saccharinum
    Box Elder - Acer negundo
Sumac Family (Anacardiaceae)
    Smooth Sumac - Rhus glabra
    Winged Sumac - Rhus copallina
    Aromatic Sumac - Rhus aromatica
    Poison Ivy  - Toxicodendron radicans
Quassia Family (Simaroubaceae)
    Tree of Heaven - Ailanthus altissima
Citrus Family (Rutaceae)
    Prickly Ash - Zanthoxylum americanum
    Hop Tree - Ptelea trifoliata
Olive Family (Oleaceae)
    White Ash - Fraxinus americana
    Green Ash - Fraxinus pennsylvanica
    Blue Ash - Fraxinus quadrangulata
Bignonia Family (Bignoniaceae)
    Trumpet Creeper - Campsis radicans
    Catalpa - Catalpa speciosa
Madder Family (Rubiaceae)
    Buttonbush - Cephalanthus occidentalis
Honeysuckle Family (Caprifoliaceae)
    Japanese Honeysuckle - Lonicera japonica
    Wolfberry - Symphoricarpos occidentalis
    Coralberry  - Symphoricarpos orbiculatus
    Southern Black Haw - Viburnum rufidulum
    Elderberry - Sambucus canadensis
Sunflower Family (Compositae)
    Rabbitbush - Chrysothamnus pulchellis
    Willow Baccharis - Baccharis salicina
    Sandhill Sage - Artemisia filifolia
Lily Family (Liliaceae)
    Bristly Greenbrier - Smilax hispida

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- This page was spun by Jim Mason -

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