Trees, shrubs, and other plants

The line between whether a plant is a "tree" or a "shrub" is sometimes very thin and quite blurry!  We use the following criteria to decide which type applies to a certain plant:

Tree
  • Reaching over 20' tall at maturity
  • Having a single or multiple trunks, typically more than 4" in diameter
  • Trunks rise significantly above ground level before branching and leaves are present
Shrub
  • Remaining less than 20' tall at maturity
  • Typically having multiple heavy branches or trunks measuring less than 4" in diameter
  • Branching leaves are present at or slightly above ground level
Perennial
  • No woody stems
  • Dies back to ground level in fall/winter, new growth appears in the spring