Herbs And Shrubs

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In horticulture, the term growth habits refers to the plant’s growth and its development or change in the plant’s height, shape and the kind of growth it undergoes. There are genetic factors as well as environmental factors which play an important role in their growth habit.

For instance, interaction with various animals influences the way plants adapt to their environment. From an evolutionary perspective, growth habits have the function of ensuring the survival and adaptation of plants in various habitats, consequently increasing the chances of successfully passing on the genes to the next generation.

Classification Based on Growth Habits

If we consider plants, based on their height, some are too short while some are too tall to climb. Besides the height, stem thickness, delicacy also varies.

For example– Short plants have greenish, soft, and tender stems, while big and tall plants or trees have a thick, strong and woody stem which are hard to break. 

Based on the growth habit, plants are broadly categorized into three groups:


Starting from the smallest, herb is a short-sized plant with soft, green, delicate stem without the woody tissues. They complete their life cycle within one or two seasons. Generally, they have few branches or are branch less. These can be easily uprooted from the soil. Herbs contain enough nutritional benefits including vitamins and minerals to make it a part of a healthy balanced diet. Tomato, wheat, paddy, grass are a few examples of herbs.


Shrubs are medium-sized, woody plants taller than herbs and shorter than a tree. Their height usually ranges between 6 m-10 m or 20 ft–33 ft tall. Their features include bushy, hard and woody stems with many branches. Although stems are hard, they are flexible but not fragile. The life-span of these plants are for many years. Rose, jasmine lemon, tulsi, and henna are some of the common shrubs around us.


Trees are big and tall plants. They have very thick, woody and hard stems called the trunk. This single main stem or the trunk gives rise to many branches that bear leaves, flowers and fruits. Some trees are branch less like coconut tree; i.e., they have only one main stem which bears leaves, flowers, and fruits all by itself. The life-span of the trees are very large. i.e, for several years. Banyan, mango, neem, cashew, teak, oak are some examples of trees.

In addition to these three categories of plants, there are two more types which need some support to grow. They are specifically called climbers and creepers.


Climbers are much more advanced than creepers. Climbers have a very thin, long and weak stem which cannot stand upright but they can use external support to grow vertically and carry their weight. These types of plants use special structures called tendrils to climb. Few climbers plants names include pea plant, grapevine, sweet gourd, money plant, jasmine, runner beans, green peas, etc.


Creepers, as the name suggests, are plants that creep on the ground. They have very fragile, long, thin stems that can neither stand erect nor support all its weight. Examples include watermelon, strawberry, pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

How do herbs differ from shrubs?

Herbs are a normal plant with soft, delicate stem and are perennial, which completes its life cycle in a year. Shrubs are taller than the herbs and have a hard woody stem with branches.

Briefly explain the classification of plants.

There are different varieties of plants and are mainly classified based on certain features including growth habit, presence or absence of specialized tissues, flowering and non-flowering plants, etc.

What is meant by Growth habit?

Growth habit mainly refers to the appearance, shape, height, and form of growth of a plant species. A plant’s growth habit develops from particular genetic patterns that determine growth.

State five examples of shrubs.

The most common examples of shrubs are rose, banana, marigold, china rose, and lemon.

What are the characteristics of herbs?

The characteristics of herbs are:

  1. They are small plants with a soft and delicate stem.
  2. They have a green, tender, soft and delicate stem.
  3. They have a short lifespan, which can live only for one or two seasons.
  4. They are shorter in size and they may grow between 2 to 3 meters tall.

What are climbers?

Climbers are the plants with long, week and very thin green stem, which use external support to grow and carry their weight.

Provide a few examples of climbers.

Beans, Cucumber, Grapevine, Gourd, Jasmine, and Money Plant are a few common examples of climbers.

Provide a few examples of creepers.

Pumpkin, Passionflowers and Sweet potato are a few common examples of creepers

What are creepers?

Creepers mainly refer to those plants which have a weak stem and are extended horizontally along with the soil on the ground as they cannot stand upright.

How are climbers different from creepers?

The main difference between climbers and creepers are:
Creepers spread their stem, leaves horizontally along with the soil on the ground and also bear flowers along with the fruits on the ground. The leaves of the creepers produce fire-like roots which fix the plant to the ground and provide external support to grow further.
Climbers are plants with a tender stem which grow with the help of external support. These plants produce a twine or hook from their leaves to climb. Some plants produce special roots that serve as the hold fasts to climb around certain objects.

Plants are living things which grow in the soil and remain fixed at a place through their roots. The plants make their own food by the process of photosynthesis, Plants are of different shapes and sizes. Most of the plants have green leaves. A few plants have reddish leaves.

Most of the plants bear flowers. They are called flowering plants such as Lemon, Wheat, Maize ,Rose, Mango, Neem, Bougainvillea, Mustard, Sunflower plant, Chill ,Tomato,Tulsi, Peepal, Banyan, Banana, Sugarcane and Potato.

Some of the plants, however, do not bear flowers. They are called non-flowering plants (or flowerless plants) such as Ferns, Moss, Algae, Fungi (like Mushroom), and Conifers (like Pine trees)

Visitors who know I grow herbs are often surprised to discover that I don’t have a traditional herb garden. I have no neatly defined area divided into geometric beds with clipped edgings. My herbs are dispersed throughout the garden. Parsley, dill, basil, and other culinary herbs mix with the vegetables while lavender, sage, bee balm, and agastaches bloom in the flower beds. There’s mint by the brook, thyme for a lawn, and potted herbs on the porch and deck. My favorite herbs, though—the ones I’m most eager to point out and recommend—are the herbal shrubs and trees that surround our property and form the framework of every bed and border.

I love the woody herbs year-round but especially from October through May, when the tops of the perennial herbaceous herbs have died down to the ground and annuals are long gone. When bee balm and basil are just a memory here in Connecticut, herbal shrubs and trees—even deciduous ones, but especially the evergreen kinds—add size, shape, color, and texture to my garden. Several of the woody herbs bloom and leaf out in spring before any herbaceous perennials amount to much. Some have glorious foliage or bright berries in fall.

When I look at an herbal shrub, I see more than just a pretty bush—I see a story, a connection, a heritage, an opportunity. Although their usefulness is often overlooked or forgotten today, their leaves, bark, fruits, wood, roots, and sap have provided seasonings for food and beverages, fragrances, dyes, gums and resins, soothing and stimulating teas, a variety of medicinal compounds, and raw materials for basketry and other crafts. Even if you never actually harvest anything from your herbal shrubs, knowing that they could be used makes them more interesting and valuable, I think, than shrubs that are merely decorative.

Scores of shrubs have herbal connections. There are candidates for all climates and growing conditions, ranging in height from creeping ground covers to tall trees. For this article, I’ll skip roses, boxwood, rosemary, bay, and many other traditional favorites to concentrate on some less familiar herbal shrubs.

Except where noted, the plants described below are hardy to Zone 4 and grow well across the northern United States. Most are native to eastern North America and were widely used by both Native Americans and European settlers.


Yellow root (Xanthorhiza simplistically) spreads slowly by its vivid yellow underground rhizomes. Tea brewed from the rhizomes was a traditional remedy for colds, liver and menstrual disorders, and other ailments. Large doses can be toxic, so use care if you use this plant at all.

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