Flowering Spring Trees

eastern redbud

All trees produce flowers, but some of our native trees produce eye-popping masses of blooms in the spring. These are the white-flowering serviceberry, wild plum, flowering dogwood and hawthorn, the brilliant pink red bud, and the striking red buckeye.

Spring bloom starts in southern Missouri in March and travels north, and from lower to higher elevation as the average daily temperature rises. North Missouri's bloom peaks and begins to fade in May. The best time to see the state's springtime parade of showy woodland trees is during the last two weeks of April.


downy serviceberry
Downy Serviceberry


Photo of eastern redbud blossoms
Eastern Redbud
Eastern redbud is a native shrub or small tree that is distinctly ornamental in spring.


flowering dogwood flower
Flowering Dogwood Flower


Photo of hawthorn trees blooming on lawn of Missouri state capitol


red buckeye
Red Buckeye


wild plum
Wild Plum
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Downy Serviceberry

Downy serviceberry is a tall shrub or small tree with a narrow, rounded crown.

Leaves are alternate, simple, oval, 2–5 inches long; finely toothed with a pointy tip, medium green; in autumn, turning gold and orange, often with reds and greens, too.

Bark is light gray and smooth when young; dark gray with shallow grooves and long ridges with age.

Flowers March–May, often before the leaves emerge; silky-hairy; slightly fragrant; petals 5, bright white, strap-shaped, wavy, with a space between them (petals not crowded together); clusters drooping or erect.

Eastern Redbud

Eastern redbud is a shrub or small tree. It is very ornamental in spring with small, clustered, rose-purple flowers covering the bare branches before the leaves.

Leaves are simple, alternate, 2–6 inches long, 1¼–6 inches wide, oval to heart-shaped, tip pointed, base heart-shaped; upper surface dark green, smooth; lower surface paler and smooth with some hairs along veins and in vein axils; leaf stalk 1¼–5 inches long, smooth.

Bark is reddish brown to gray, thin and smooth when young. Older trees have long grooves and short, thin, blocky plates.

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering dogwood is a beautiful shrub to small tree with a straggling, spreading crown. Missouri’s official state tree, it presents lovely boughs of white inflorescences in springtime forests.

Leaves are opposite, simple, egg-shaped, 3–5 inches long, dark green, with slightly wavy edges.

Bark is dark gray to brown with thin, squarish plates.

Twigs are flexible, slender, reddish-gray to purplish, or greenish with red dots, hairy, with flower buds terminal. Leaf buds are compressed and oval.


There are dozens of different kinds of hawthorns that occupy almost every kind of soil in every part of the state. These members of the rose family are closely related to apples.

Hawthorns (species in the genus Crataegus) are shrubs or small trees, often with two or more trunks, spreading, rounded crowns, and woody spines.

Leaves are alternate, simple, toothed, some species having lobes and others not, the leaf shape varying widely (oval, spatula-shaped, triangular, rounded, sharply pointed, etc).

Red Buckeye

Red buckeye is a shrub or (less often) a small tree with a rather dense crown and short branches.

Leaves are opposite, palm-shaped compound with 5 leaflets; leaflets 3–6 inches long, lance-shaped or inverted egg-shaped, coarsely toothed; upper surface shiny, dark green, smooth with a few hairs on the veins; lower surface paler, ranging from smooth to having matted hairs.

Bark is smooth on young branches; on old trunks roughened into short plates that flake off in small, thin scales.

Twigs are green, gray or brown, drooping with upcurved ends.

Wild Plum

Wild plum is a shrub that propagates itself by root sprouts to form thickets, or it can be a small tree with spreading, more or less hanging, branches.

Leaves are alternate, simple, 2½–4 inches long, 1½–2 inches wide, broadest at or below the middle; margin sharply toothed; upper surface dark green, lower surface paler and net-veined.

Bark is dark brown to reddish, breaking into thin, long, scaly plates, pores horizontal and prominent.