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Shrubs

In 2016, a total of 436 kinds of woody plants were known to occur in the wild in Arkansas, comprising 419 species plus another seventeen varieties and subspecies. Of these, 185 can be considered trees, 189 are best described as shrubs, and sixty-two are woody vines. In some cases it is difficult to draw a hard line between these categories, and various references differ in their criteria for each. For the purposes of this entry, however, each category is defined as follows:

Trees are defined as perennial, often single- or relatively few–stemmed woody plants typically greater than five meters (sixteen feet) in height at maturity. Shrubs are defined as perennial, often multi-stemmed woody or semi-woody plants usually less than five meters (sixteen feet) in height at maturity. This includes the bamboo members of the grass family (which may be taller), yuccas, the highbush members of the genus Rubus (blackberries and raspberries), prickly-pear cacti, and dwarf palmettos. Woody vines are defined as perennial, woody or semi-woody twining, climbing, or trailing plants with relatively long stems. In some cases these may not appear especially “woody” (e.g., the trailing or dewberry members of the genus Rubus and some greenbriers in the genus Smilax), but their stems do not die back to the ground in winter.

Of the 189 shrubs in Arkansas, fifty-two (27.5 percent) are not native to the state and were introduced either by accident or intentionally from elsewhere in the world since the time of European settlement. Two others are of uncertain native status. Thirty-eight (20.1 percent) have been identified as state species of conservation concern by the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. These species are rare in the state and may be at risk from loss of habitat, disease, or other factors. All of these are designated in the table below.

Arkansas is home to one shrub that is thought to be endemic, or restricted to the state. Stern’s medlar (Crataegus × canescens or Mespilus canescens) is known from a single site in the Grand Prairie region of eastern Arkansas, where just twenty-four individual representatives of the species are known to exist. Recent genetic research into this population suggests that the species may be of hybrid origin—the result of past hybridization between the native blueberry hawthorn (Crataegus brachyacantha) and the European medlar (Mespilus germanica), which was presumably brought to the area by immigrants from eastern Europe.

The largest genera of shrubs in Arkansas are the highbush blackberries and raspberries (Rubus; fourteen shrub species, ten of which are native), the hawthorns (Crataegus; thirteen shrub species, all native), the roses (Rosa; ten species, four native), the arrow-woods (Viburnum; eight shrub species, all native), the St. John’s worts (Hypericum; seven shrub species, six native), the bridal-wreaths (Spiraea; six shrub species, one native), the blueberries (Vaccinium; six shrub species, all native), the indigo-bushes and lead-plants (Amorpha; five shrub species, all native), the privets (Ligustrum; five shrub species, none native), the sumacs (Rhus; five shrub species, all native), the willows (Salix; five shrub species, all native), and the yuccas (Yucca; five shrub species, three native).

As noted above, not all of the shrub species found in Arkansas are native to the state. Several of these non-native shrubs are considered by botanists and ecologists to be invasive in Arkansas’s natural communities, capable of displacing native vegetation and altering habitat for native wildlife. Examples of non-native invasive shrubs in Arkansas include trifoliate orange (Citrus trifoliata), thorny-olive (Elaeagnus pungens), autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), burning-bush (Euonymus alatus), Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), bush honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii), nandina (Nandina domestica), golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), and everbearing blackberry (Rubus serissimus). Saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia), while it may be native to a few isolated saline habitats in southern Arkansas, is highly invasive and has spread rapidly throughout the state in recent years. It is now ubiquitous in many moist, open, human-disturbed habitats such as roadsides, ditch banks, cutover forests, marshes, and fallow agricultural fields.

The following table presents an annotated list of the 189 shrubs known to occur in the wild in Arkansas as recorded by Gentry et al. (2013) and amended by the staff of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission with data gathered since 2013.

Annotations are as follows:

+ = state conservation concern (rare species)

* = non-native to Arkansas

*? = questionable or uncertain native status.

Scientific Name

Common Name(s)

Family

Family Common Name

Alnus serrulata

alder, smooth alder, tag alder

BETULACEAE

Birch Family

Amorpha canescens +

lead-plant

FABACEAE

Bean Family

Amorpha fruticosa

indigo-bush, false indigo

FABACEAE

Bean Family

Amorpha nitens

shining indigo-bush

FABACEAE

Bean Family

Amorpha ouachitensis +

Ouachita indigo-bush, Ouachita lead-plant

FABACEAE

Bean Family

Amorpha paniculata +

panicled indigo-bush

FABACEAE

Bean Family

Arundinaria gigantea

river cane, giant cane, switch cane

POACEAE

Grass Family

Asimina parviflora +

dwarf pawpaw

ANNONACEAE

Custard-apple Family

Baccharis halimifolia *?

saltbush, groundsel-tree, sea-myrtle

ASTERACEAE

Sunflower Family

Berberis bealei *

mahonia

BERBERIDACEAE

Barberry Family

Berberis thunbergii *

Japanese barberry

BERBERIDACEAE

Barberry Family

Callicarpa americana

American beauty-berry, French-mulberry

LAMIACEAE

Mint Family

Callicarpa dichotoma *

Chinese beauty-berry

LAMIACEAE

Mint Family

Ceanothus americanus

New Jersey-tea

RHAMNACEAE

Buckthorn Family

Ceanothus herbaceus

inland New Jersey-tea, redroot

RHAMNACEAE

Buckthorn Family

Cephalanthus occidentalis

buttonbush

RUBIACEAE

Madder Family

Chaenomeles speciosa *

flowering-quince

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Chionanthus virginicus

fringe-tree, old-man’s-beard

OLEACEAE

Olive Family

Citrus trifoliata *

trifoliate orange

RUTACEAE

Rue Family

Cornus drummondii

rough-leaf dogwood

CORNACEAE

Dogwood Family

Cornus foemina

stiff dogwood

CORNACEAE

Dogwood Family

Cornus obliqua

silky dogwood

CORNACEAE

Dogwood Family

Cornus racemosa

gray dogwood

CORNACEAE

Dogwood Family

Corylus americana

hazelnut, American hazelnut

BETULACEAE

Birch Family

Crataegus × canescens +

Stern’s medlar

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus berberifolia

barberry hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus calpodendron

pear hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus coccinioides +

Kansas hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus collina

hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus crus-galli

cockspur hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus intricata

hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus macrosperma +

fan-leaf hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus marshallii

parsley hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus mollis

downy hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus pruinosa

hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus triflora +

three-flower hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Crataegus uniflora

dwarf hawthorn

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Decodon verticillatus

swamp-loosestrife

LYTHRACEAE

Loosestrife Family

Deutzia scabra *

deutzia, pride-of-Rochester

HYDRANGEACEAE

Hydrangea Family

Dirca decipiens +

Ozark leatherwood

THYMELAEACEAE

Leatherwood Family

Dirca palustris

leatherwood

THYMELAEACEAE

Leatherwood Family

Ditrysinia fruticosa +

Sebastian-bush

EUPHORBIACEAE

Spurge Family

Elaeagnus pungens *

thorny-olive

ELAEAGNACEAE

Oleaster Family

Elaeagnus umbellata *

autumn-olive

ELAEAGNACEAE

Oleaster Family

Euonymus alatus *

burning-bush, winged euonymus

CELASTRACEAE

Bittersweet Family

Euonymus americanus

strawberry-bush, hearts-a-bursting-with-love

CELASTRACEAE

Bittersweet Family

Euonymus atropurpureus var. atropurpureus

wahoo, burning-bush

CELASTRACEAE

Bittersweet Family

Exochorda racemosa *

pearlbush

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Forestiera ligustrina +

upland swamp-privet

OLEACEAE

Olive Family

Forsythia suspensa *

weeping forsythia

OLEACEAE

Olive Family

Fothergilla major +

witch-alder

HAMAMELIDACEAE

Witch-hazel Family

Gaylussacia baccata +

black huckleberry

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Hamamelis vernalis

vernal witch-hazel, Ozark witch-hazel

HAMAMELIDACEAE

Witch-hazel Family

Hamamelis virginiana

American witch-hazel

HAMAMELIDACEAE

Witch-hazel Family

Hydrangea arborescens

wild hydrangea

HYDRANGEACEAE

Hydrangea Family

Hydrangea quercifolia *?

oak-leaf hydrangea

HYDRANGEACEAE

Hydrangea Family

Hypericum apocynifolium +

dogbane St. John’s-wort

HYPERICACEAE

St. John’s-wort Family

Hypericum crux-andreae

St. Peter’s-wort

HYPERICACEAE

St. John’s-wort Family

Hypericum fasciculatum *

peel-bark St. John’s-wort

HYPERICACEAE

St. John’s-wort Family

Hypericum hypericoides subsp. hypericoides

St. Andrew’s-cross

HYPERICACEAE

St. John’s-wort Family

Hypericum hypericoides subsp. multicaule

St. Andrew’s-cross

HYPERICACEAE

St. John’s-wort Family

Hypericum lobocarpum

five-lobe St. John’s-wort

HYPERICACEAE

St. John’s-wort Family

Hypericum prolificum

shrubby St. John’s-wort

HYPERICACEAE

St. John’s-wort Family

Ilex ambigua

Carolina holly

AQUIFOLIACEAE

Holly Family

Ilex verticillata +

winterberry

AQUIFOLIACEAE

Holly Family

Itea virginica

Virginia sweetspire, Virginia-willow

ITEACEAE

Sweetspire Family

Lantana camara *

lantana

VERBENACEAE

Vervain Family

Leitneria floridana +

corkwood

SIMAROUBACEAE

Quassia Family

Leptopus phyllanthoides

maidenbush, buckbrush

PHYLLANTHACEAE

Leaf-flower Family

Lespedeza bicolor *

bicolor lespedeza

FABACEAE

Bean Family

Lespedeza thunbergii *

Thunberg’s bush-clover, lespedeza

FABACEAE

Bean Family

Ligustrum japonicum *

Japanese privet

OLEACEAE

Olive Family

Ligustrum lucidum *

glossy privet

OLEACEAE

Olive Family

Ligustrum quihoui *

waxy-leaf privet

OLEACEAE

Olive Family

Ligustrum sinense *

Chinese privet

OLEACEAE

Olive Family

Ligustrum vulgare *

European privet

OLEACEAE

Olive Family

Lindera benzoin

spicebush

LAURACEAE

Laurel Family

Lindera melissifolia +

pondberry

LAURACEAE

Laurel Family

Lonicera fragrantissima *

fragrant honeysuckle, sweet-breath-of-spring

CAPRIFOLIACEAE

Honeysuckle Family

Lonicera maackii *

Amur honeysuckle, bush honeysuckle

CAPRIFOLIACEAE

Honeysuckle Family

Lonicera morrowii *

Morrow’s honeysuckle, bush honeysuckle

CAPRIFOLIACEAE

Honeysuckle Family

Lycium barbarum *

matrimony-vine

SOLANACEAE

Nightshade Family

Lyonia ligustrina var. foliosiflora

maleberry

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Lyonia mariana

staggerbush

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Myrica cerifera

wax-myrtle

MYRICACEAE

Wax-myrtle Family

Myrica heterophylla

bayberry

MYRICACEAE

Wax-myrtle Family

Nandina domestica *

nandina, heavenly-bamboo

BERBERIDACEAE

Barberry Family

Neviusia alabamensis +

Alabama snow-wreath

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Opuntia cespitosa

prickly-pear

CACTACEAE

Cactus Family

Opuntia engelmannii var. lindheimeri +

Texas prickly-pear

CACTACEAE

Cactus Family

Opuntia macrorhiza

western prickly-pear

CACTACEAE

Cactus Family

Opuntia nemoralis +

Ouachita prickly-pear

CACTACEAE

Cactus Family

Philadelphus hirsutus +

hairy mock orange

HYDRANGEACEAE

Hydrangea Family

Philadelphus inodorus *

Appalachian mock orange

HYDRANGEACEAE

Hydrangea Family

Philadelphus pubescens

Ozark mock orange

HYDRANGEACEAE

Hydrangea Family

Phoradendron leucarpum

mistletoe

SANTALACEAE

Sandalwood Family

Photinia melanocarpa +

black chokeberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Photinia pyrifolia

red chokeberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Photinia serratifolia *

Chinese photinia

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Phyllostachys aurea *

golden bamboo

POACEAE

Grass Family

Physocarpus opulifolius

ninebark

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Polygonella americana

jointweed

POLYGONACEAE

Buckwheat Family

Prunus americana +

American plum

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Prunus angustifolia

Chickasaw plum

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Prunus gracilis +

Oklahoma plum

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Prunus pumila var. susquehanae +

sand cherry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Ptelea trifoliata

wafer-ash, hop-tree

RUTACEAE

Rue Family

Quercus prinoides +

dwarf chinquapin oak, dwarf chestnut oak

FAGACEAE

Beech Family

Rhododendron canescens

swamp azalea, hoary azalea

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Rhododendron prinophyllum

pink azalea, mountain azalea

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Rhododendron viscosum

white azalea

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Rhodotypos scandens *

jetbead

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rhus aromatica var. aromatica

fragrant sumac

ANACARDIACEAE

Sumac Family

Rhus aromatica var. serotina

fragrant sumac

ANACARDIACEAE

Sumac Family

Rhus copallinum

winged sumac, dwarf sumac, shining sumac

ANACARDIACEAE

Sumac Family

Rhus glabra

smooth sumac

ANACARDIACEAE

Sumac Family

Rhus trilobata var. trilobata +

skunk-bush sumac

ANACARDIACEAE

Sumac Family

Ribes aureum var. villosum

golden currant, buffalo currant

GROSSULARIACEAE

Currant Family

Ribes curvatum

granite gooseberry

GROSSULARIACEAE

Currant Family

Ribes cynosbati +

prickly gooseberry

GROSSULARIACEAE

Currant Family

Ribes missouriense

Missouri gooseberry

GROSSULARIACEAE

Currant Family

Robinia hispida var. hispida *

bristly locust

FABACEAE

Bean Family

Rosa bracteata *

McCartney rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rosa carolina

Carolina rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rosa chinensis *

Chinese rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rosa eglanteria *

sweetbrier rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rosa foliolosa +

white prairie rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rosa laevigata *

Cherokee rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rosa multiflora *

multiflora rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rosa palustris

swamp rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rosa setigera

climbing rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rosa wichuraiana *

memorial rose

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus allegheniensis

high-bush blackberry, common blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus alumnus

high-bush blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus argutus

high-bush blackberry, southern blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus armeniacus *

Himalayan blackberry, Armenian blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus bifrons *

Himalayan-berry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus bushii

Bush’s high-bush blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus frondosus

high-bush blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus laudatus

high-bush blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus louisianus

high-bush blackberry, swampberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus mollior

high-bush blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus occidentalis

black raspberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus phoenicolasius *

wineberry, wine raspberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus serissimus *

everbearing blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Rubus suus

high-bush blackberry

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Sabal minor

dwarf palmetto

ARECACEAE

Palm Family

Salix caroliniana

Carolina willow, Ward’s willow

SALICACEAE

Willow Family

Salix eriocephala +

Missouri willow

SALICACEAE

Willow Family

Salix humilis var. humilis

upland willow, prairie willow

SALICACEAE

Willow Family

Salix humilis var. tristis

dwarf upland willow, dwarf prairie willow

SALICACEAE

Willow Family

Salix sericea +

silky willow

SALICACEAE

Willow Family

Sambucus canadensis

elderberry

ADOXACEAE

Arrow-wood Family

Sesbania punicea *

scarlet rattlebox

FABACEAE

Bean Family

Spiraea × billiardii *

Billiard’s spiraea

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Spiraea cantoniensis *

double bridal-wreath spiraea, Reeves’ spiraea

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Spiraea japonica *

Japanese spiraea, Japanese meadowsweet

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Spiraea prunifolia *

bridal-wreath spiraea

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Spiraea thunbergii *

Thunberg’s spiraea

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Spiraea tomentosa +

hardhack, steeple-bush

ROSACEAE

Rose Family

Staphylea trifolia

bladdernut

STAPHYLEACEAE

Bladdernut Family

Stewartia malacodendron +

silky-camellia

THEACEAE

Tea Family

Styrax americanus

American snowbell, storax

STYRACACEAE

Storax Family

Styrax grandifolius

big-leaf snowbell, big-leaf storax

STYRACACEAE

Storax Family

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

coral-berry

CAPRIFOLIACEAE

Honeysuckle Family

Tamarix ramosissima *

tamarisk, salt-cedar

TAMARICACEAE

Tamarisk Family

Toxicodendron pubescens

poison-oak

ANACARDIACEAE

Sumac Family

Vaccinium arboreum

farkleberry, sparkleberry

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Vaccinium elliottii

mayberry, Elliott’s blueberry

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Vaccinium fuscatum

black high-bush blueberry

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Vaccinium pallidum

low-bush blueberry

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Vaccinium stamineum

deerberry

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Vaccinium virgatum

high-bush blueberry

ERICACEAE

Heath Family

Viburnum acerifolium +

maple-leaf viburnum, maple-leaf arrow-wood

ADOXACEAE

Arrow-wood Family

Viburnum bracteatum

Ozark arrow-wood

ADOXACEAE

Arrow-wood Family

Viburnum dentatum var. dentatum

arrow-wood

ADOXACEAE

Arrow-wood Family

Viburnum dentatum var. scabrellum +

southern arrow-wood

ADOXACEAE

Arrow-wood Family

Viburnum molle +

soft-leaf arrow-wood

ADOXACEAE

Arrow-wood Family

Viburnum nudum

possumhaw

ADOXACEAE

Arrow-wood Family

Viburnum rafinesquianum

downy arrow-wood

ADOXACEAE

Arrow-wood Family

Viburnum recognitum +

northern arrow-wood

ADOXACEAE

Arrow-wood Family

Vitex agnus-castus *

chaste-tree

LAMIACEAE

Mint Family

Vitex negundo var. cannabifolia *

negundo chaste-tree, hemp-tree

LAMIACEAE

Mint Family

Vitex negundo var. negundo *

negundo chaste-tree

LAMIACEAE

Mint Family

Yucca arkansana

Arkansas yucca, soapweed

AGAVACEAE

Agave Family

Yucca filamentosa *

Adam’s-needle, Spanish-bayonet, yucca

AGAVACEAE

Agave Family

Yucca flaccida *

Adam’s-needle, Spanish-bayonet, yucca

AGAVACEAE

Agave Family

Yucca freemanii +

Freeman’s yucca

AGAVACEAE

Agave Family

Yucca louisianensis

Louisiana yucca, sandhill yucca

AGAVACEAE

Agave Family

For additional information:
Gentry, Johnnie L., George P. Johnson, Brent T. Baker, C. Theo Witsell, and Jennifer D. Ogle., eds. Atlas of the Vascular Plants of Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Herbarium, 2013.

Hunter, Carl G. Trees, Shrubs, and Vines of Arkansas. Little Rock: Ozark Society Foundation, 2004.

Smith, Edwin B. Keys to the Flora of Arkansas. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1994.

Tucker, Gary Edward. “A Guide to the Woody Flora of Arkansas.” PhD diss., University of Arkansas, 1976.

Theo Witsell
Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission

Last Updated 7/20/2016

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