Keys to Nature
Shrubs of The Chicago Region

© Paul Rothrock, Cornus obliqua - Keys to Nature Project
Shrubs of The Chicago Region
Paul Rothrock
This is a sub-set of shrubs of the Chicago Region. Shrubs are defined as woody plants of short to medium stature lacking a central trunk and instead branching from the base. Most of these species are native, but a few are non-natives that were included in order to distinguish between similar native species. Several branches of this key end at groups of species rather than a single species. Please contact the author and if you are interested in resolving these species. Maps of the Chicago Region can be found at


Key Structure:
1. Leaves evergreen, needle- or scale-like –GROUP 1 (see Juniperus Key)

1. Leaves deciduous - 2
2. Leaves compound (more than one leaflet per stalk) - 3
3. Stems armed – GROUP 2 (Rosa, Rubus, Zanthoxylum)
3. Stems unarmed – GROUP 3 (Amorpha, Aralia, Potentilla, Ptelea, Rhus, Sambucus, Staphylea)

2. Leaves simple (one leaf per stalk) - 4
4. Leaves opposite
5. Leaf margins entire (no teeth) – GROUP 4 (Cephalanthus, Cornus, Decodon, Hypericum, Lonicera, Mitchella, Symphoricarpos)
5. Leaf margins toothed or lobed – GROUP 5 (Diervilla, Eunoymous, Viburnum)

4. Leaves alternate - 6
6. Plants less than 40 cm tall – GROUP 6 (Arctostaphylos, Chimaphila, Gaultheria, Hudsonia, Vaccinium)
6. Plants erect, quickly reaching more than 40 cm tall - 7
7. Leaf margins entire (no teeth) – GROUP 7 (Dirca, Lindera, Rhamnus, Vaccinium)
7. Leaf margins toothed or lobed - 8
8. Venation pinnate- 9
9. fruits fleshy – GROUP 8 (Cornus, Gaylussacia, Ilex, Prunus, Rhamnus, Vaccinium)
9. fruits non-fleshy – GROUP 9 (Alnus, Betula, Chamaedaphne, Comptonia, Corylus, Hamamelis, Salix, Spiraea)
8. Venation palmate – GROUP 10 (Ceanothus, Physocarpus, Ribes)


Please email with questions or concerns.
This page was last modified on: Tue, 15 Jul 2008 10:34:59 -0500.