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Terms to Know When Purchasing Trees and Shrubs

Terms to Know When Purchasing Trees and Shrubs

Form is the general shape and growth habit of the plant. From tall and columnar to wide and gracefully weeping, trees come in a variety of shapes.

Similarly, shrubs may be rounded and bushy or low and ground hugging. Form can also vary as the year progresses and leaves are developed and lost. Often a unique winter habit makes a tree or shrub truly outstanding. You should be familiar with some growth form terminology when contemplating a purchase. 

Shade Tree: commonly refers to a large, deciduous tree but can be any tree that provides shade.

Upright/ Fastigiate/ Columnar: a plant that has main branches and stems pointing upward and is often quite narrow.

Dwarf: properly refers to any variety, cultivar, or hybrid that is smaller than the species, but the term is sometimes mistakenly used to mean a small, slow-growing plant.

Prostrate/ Procumbent: plants that are low growing, bearing branches and stems that spread horizontally across the ground. 


Excerpt from "Tree & Shrub Gardening for Ohio" by Fred Hower and Alison Beck. Available for purchase here.

Underused Perennials
Purchasing Trees and Shrubs