Plants can be classified in many ways, one of the most used classifications being due to the adult size they reach. Even so, it is normal for doubts to arise about what a grass, a bush and a tree are, since sometimes you can find definitions that differ a little between them.
What exactly are those three types of plants? Which are your principal characteristics? I will talk about all this and more below.
- 1 What is a tree?
- 2 What is a bush?
- 3 What is an herb?
What is a tree?
A tree is a plant with a woody stem that branches at a certain height from the ground . At what height? Well, it will depend on who you ask : some say two meters, others three, and others five meters. Who to believe? Although you may not like my answer, all of them, for the simple reason that there are many species and not all of them reach the same height.
In general, the tallest species branch high above the ground, like the sequoia for example. This conifer reaches over 100 meters, and you will not see -in adult specimens- low branches unless you look up and pose it at about 30 meters or more on the trunk. On the contrary, the almond tree only grows up to 7-7 meters and branches very soon, more or less at 2 meters.
But apart from this, a tree is a plant that is at least 5 meters tall and that has a clear apical dominance , which gives rise to a crown that is separated from the ground. In addition, the trunk measures at least 30cm in circumference.
What is a bush?
A bush is a plant that, many times, appears to be a small tree but differs from it by having a trunk that branches from the very base or from a few centimeters above the ground . They can reach heights not exceeding 4 meters or 4.5m, the most common being between 0.50cm and 2 meters.
Still, you have to know that not all woody plants that branch from the base of the trunk are shrubs; in fact, there are several, such as thyme or lavender that are called subshrubs, popularly known as bushes or dwarf shrubs. These grow up to 20cm, rarely 1m, and have branches that develop at ground level or at a very low height.
What is a herb?
Herbs are the plant beings that have had the most evolutionary success -and are having-. We can find them practically all over the globe, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they were, ultimately, the great survivors in the event of a great global catastrophe. But what are they like?
Well, they are plants that do not have decidedly woody stems. Their predominant color is green, and also when they bear fruit, they generally produce many seeds, bulblets or shoots that sprout from a rhizome, as the case may be. Likewise, you should know that there are two types depending on the type of leaf: the graminoids, which are the ones with narrow leaves, and the forbias, with wide leaves. Within this last group there is also another: the megaforbias.
What are megaphorbias? The giant herbs , such as the Musas ( bananas , plane trees) or the palm trees . They can easily exceed 10 meters, which is why they are often confused with trees even though they have nothing to do with them; Moreover, while trees are dicotyledonous plants, herbs are monocotyledonous, which means, that only a single cotyledon sprouts when they germinate.
As a curiosity, in the language of the people, any plant, whether woody or not, arboreal or not, whose leaves or young shoots are used in the kitchen to prepare various recipes or to treat illnesses, is known as herb or yerba.