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 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 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.
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.