Plant Growth Habits Codes and Definitions

Natural Resources Conservation Service present

Plant Growth Habits Codes and Definitions to reference.

PLANTS DescriptionPLANTS DefinitionNotes
Forb/herbVascular plant without significant woody tissue above or at the ground. Forbs and herbs may be annual, biennial, or perennial but always lack significant thickening by secondary woody growth and have perennating buds borne at or below the ground surface. In PLANTS, graminoids are excluded but ferns, horsetails, lycopods, and whisk-ferns are included.Applies to vascular plants only. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) definition includes graminoids, forbs, and ferns.
GraminoidGrass or grass-like plant, including grasses (Poaceae), sedges (Cyperaceae), rushes (Juncaceae), arrow-grasses (Juncaginaceae), and quillworts (Isoetes).Applies to vascular plants only. An herb in the FGDC classification.
LichenousOrganism generally recognized as a single “plant” that consists of a fungus and an alga or cyanobacterium living in symbiotic association. Often attached to solid objects such as rocks or living or dead wood rather than soil.Applies to lichens only, which are not true plants.
NonvascularNonvascular, terrestrial green plant, including mosses, hornworts, and liverworts. Always herbaceous, often attached to solid objects such as rocks or living or dead wood rather than soil.Applies to non-vascular plants only; in PLANTS system this is groups HN (Hornworts), LV (Liverworts), and MS (Mosses).
ShrubPerennial, multi-stemmed woody plant that is usually less than 4 to 5 meters (13 to 16 feet) in height. Shrubs typically have several stems arising from or near the ground, but may be taller than 5 meters or single-stemmed under certain environmental conditions.Applies to vascular plants only.
SubshrubLow-growing shrub usually under 0.5 m (1.5 feet) tall, never exceeding 1 meter (3 feet) tall at maturity.Applies to vascular plants only. A dwarf-shrub in the FGDC classification.
TreePerennial, woody plant with a single stem (trunk), normally greater than 4 to 5 meters (13 to 16 feet) in height; under certain environmental conditions, some tree species may develop a multi-stemmed or short growth form (less than 4 meters or 13 feet in height).Applies to vascular plants only.
VineTwining/climbing plant with relatively long stems, can be woody or herbaceous.Applies to vascular plants only. FGDC classification considers woody vines to be shrubs and herbaceous vines to be herbs.


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By USDA NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service)

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