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Difference Between Herbs, Shrubs and Trees

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Main Difference

The main difference between Herbs, Shrubs, and Trees is that Herbs are small plants that have unbranched, soft and non-woody stems whereas, Shrubs are medium-sized plants that have woody, multiple directly branched stems, while Trees are big plants that have woody stems and the branches grow about a meter above the ground.

Herbs vs. Shrubs vs. Trees

Herbs are annual non-woody plants that produce seeds, whereas shrubs have some woody main stems which grow near the ground level; however, trees are perennial plants that have woody stems with a single trunk that grows tall above the ground. Herbs consist of thin stems that are soft, non-woody, tender, and they can be easily bent, while shrubs have hard and woody stems, but they are not very thick, whereas trees have thick, hard, woody stems that are brown.

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Herbs don’t have branched stems, while shrubs have branched stems that are near or at the base of the ground level. Trees, on the other hand, have branches that grow on a single stem called trunk, and it grows about a meter long before branching. Herbs have short height; they usually grow below one meter in height whereas, shrubs have taller height as compared to herbs. Among all of these plants, trees have the tallest height.

Uses of herbs mainly include flavors in food and use in medicines, while uses of shrubs include gardening and medicinal purpose. Trees are important for the maintenance of the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, the prevention of soil erosion and, a source of wood. The lifetime of herbs is short, and the duration of their life can be one to two seasons, whereas the lifetime of shrubs is of many years but less compared to trees, and the trees have the longest life among all of the plants.

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Examples of herbs include cabbage, wheat, paddy, radish, tomato, mustard, turnip, ginger, sunflower, carrot, while the example of the shrub is croton, jasmine (chameli), tulsi, lemon, rose, Heena (mehndi), china rose, pomegranate, bougainvillea, and examples of trees are Neem, palm, oak, conifers, banyan (peepal), Jamun, coconut, palm, etc.

Comparison Chart

HerbsShrubsTrees
Herbs are annual non-woody plants that produce seeds.Shrubs have some woody main stems which grow near the ground level.Trees are perennial plants that have woody stems with a single trunk that grows tall above the ground.
Branching Pattern
They do not have branches.They have branches at the base.They have branches at a single stem.
Height
SmallMediumTall
Stem
Thin, nonwoody, softLess thick, woody, hardThick, brown woody, hard
Lifecycle
Annual, biennial, or perennialsMostly perennialsPerennials
Importance
Important for flavors in food and medicinesImportant for gardening and medicinal purposeImportant for maintenance of carbon dioxide content in the air, prevention of soil erosion and, a source of wood
Lifespan
ShortMany yearsLongest
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What are Herbs?

Herbs are annual non-woody plants that produce seeds. Herbs contain an unbranched stem. Herbs consist of thin stems that are soft, non-woody, and tender. Herbs have unbranched stems other than other plants. Biennials, perennials, and annual herbs are the three types of herbs. The lifecycle of biennial herbs completes in almost two years. The lifespan of perennial herbs live is more than two years, and the lifecycle of annual herbs completes in between one year. Herbs can grow in beds, borders, and containers; therefore, their growth depends on some factors; PH, organic matter of soil, PH, soil moisture, and potassium content. They are known for their characteristic of refreshing and pleasant aroma and smell and can also be used for religious and spiritual reasons. Herbs are plants that have savory or aromatic characteristics, used for garnishing, flavoring, medicinal, and fragrances purposes other than other plants and vegetables that are taken for macronutrients.

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Herbs and spices are differentiated by their culinary use. Their lifetime ends at the end of their season of growing. Culinary and medicinal herbs differ when using the term ‘herb.’ As its usage in spiritual and medicinal purpose, all the part of the plant includes as herbs such as roots, leaves, flowers, root bark, seeds, inner bark, pericarp, and resin. The small number of culinary herbs can add flavor to food such as lavender or thyme, parsley, and basil.

Flowers, dried leaves, fresh herbs, and seeds of herbs are used to make herbal teas by immersing them in boiling water without adding milk known as mint tea. Herbs are being used back in history, such as in traditional Chinese herbal medicine from 1st century CE and in India for the Ayurveda medicinal system. Western civilizations also use herbs for the medicinal purpose, originated from Hippocratic medicine of elemental healing system. Pharmaceuticals of the modern age still extract drugs from herbs, which are then purified to meet the requirements.

What are Shrubs?

Shrubs are medium-sized plants that have woody, multiple directly branched perennial stems that are either upright or close to the ground level. The average height of shrubs is 10 to 12 feet, and the width of their stems is below 3 inches in diameter. Shrubs have hard and woody stems, but they are not very thick. The small branches of herbs grow near to each other and are bushy with leaves on them. Therefore, shrubs can remain evergreen or shortlived, and usually, their life is for many years. The place (garden or parks) where the shrubs are grown refers to shrubbery.

These are important for our landscapes as perennials and annuals deliver variety and colors to our landscape. Shrubs are referred to as plants with wide leaves in common garden practice, even though some mountain pine one the small conifers and common juniper also have a shrubby appearance; Therefore, the species are either shortlived or constant that has a shrubby growth habit.

Herbs are popular for clipping topiary, which is a type of horticulture practice in which the foliage of shrubs is clipped together to form defined shapes as an art. For this, shrubs of appropriate varieties and species expand dense and thick leafage by growing small leafy branches. Pruning of many shrubs gives well results by their renewal; the process includes cutting, and then the “stooling” technique gives outcomes as new, improved stems referred to as “canes” while some shrubs give better results in their nature and structure only through selective pruning.

Example of a shrub is croton, jasmine (chameli), tulsi, lemon, rose, Heena (mehndi), china rose, pomegranate, bougainvillea and examples of trees are Neem, palm, oak, conifers, banyan (peepal), Jamun, coconut, palm, etc.

What are Trees?

Trees are perennial plants that have woody stems with a single trunk that grows tall above the ground. Trees have lateral branches that grow on a single stem called trunk, and trunk grows about a meter long before branching. A tree can have a maximum height of 13 feet and a diameter of 3 inches. The tissues of trees are woody and are tall plants. Therefore, they accumulate sunlight by their leaves for the process of photosynthesis in which food is processed for trees.

The main function of the trunk of the tree provides support to ber the weight of tree canopy. The only living area of trees is the outer layers of the trunk that is the cambium, which is responsible for the production of new bark and wood.

Phloem is the outer tissue layer present outside cambium, and the minerals, sugars that are processed in the photosynthesis are transported from the upper canopy down to the roots, whereas the dead tissues of phloem become the part of the bark of a tree. The layer of tissue which is present inside the cambium is xylem, and its function includes the transportation of water from roots up to the crown of the tree. The trees are of two kinds; angiosperms that are in the majority, and gymnosperms.

Key Differences

  1. Herbs consist of thin stems that are soft, non-woody, tender, and they can be easily bent, whereas shrubs have hard and woody stems, but they are not very thick. However, trees have thick, hard, woody stems that are brown.
  2. Herbs don’t have branched stems, while shrubs have branched stems that are near or at the base of the ground level. Conversely, trees have branches that grow on a single stem called trunk, and it non-woody about a meter long before branching.
  3. Herbs have short height; they usually grow below one meter in height whereas, shrubs have taller height as compared to herbs. Among all of these plants, trees have the tallest height.
  4. Uses of herbs mainly include flavors in food and use in medicines, and uses of shrubs include gardening and medicinal purpose. On the flip side, trees are important for the maintenance of the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, the prevention of soil erosion and, a source of wood.
  5. The lifetime of herbs is short, and the duration of their life can be one to two seasons, while the lifetime of shrubs is of many years but less compared to trees. The trees have the longest life among all of the plants.

Conclusion

Herbs, shrubs, trees all are the type of plants that have a growth on earth. However, herbs are non-woody, less branched, shortest plants while shrubs are medium-sized, woody, and multiple branched plants. Trees are big plants that have woody stems, and the branches grow above the ground level.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White

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