Shrubs and Their Uses


Any kind of woody and consistently thick plant that is smaller than a tree in size and branches out into various trucks or stems around the base is called a shrub. Often also called bushes, shrubs are fairly easy to recognise because of their short and comparatively bushy characteristics. They often lack a single trunk. 

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While a large part of the stem is not visible owing to their dense feature, they are widely used in places for decoration. Some shrubs are small and dense, while others are slightly tall and thin. Some of them have green leaves while others are characterised by flowers. 

Most shrubs grow up to about 3 metres in height, regardless whether they are ornamental or flowering. An important feature of landscape beautification, shrubs are  used for temporary decoration purposes as well on fences, screens, background plantings, hedges or formal gatherings. However, since bushes grow at a higher rate than trees usually do, they need to be tended to regularly to make sure that they are in a specific shape or size so that they can contribute to colour, fragrance, or utility. A nearly arranged area of shrubs or bushes in a garden, park or amidst a natural landscape is known as a shrubbery. 

Types of Shrubs

The various kinds of shrubs that can be commonly found are Australian fuchsia, red climbing rose, bush rose, sunrose, camellia, azalea, white and purple butterfly bush, barberry, rockrose and more. Shrubs can be further sub-grouped on the basis of their foliage, colour and season.

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Broadleaf Evergreen Shrubs

These shrubs include the likes of which remain green all through the year, regardless of what season it is and what time they’ve been planted. However, a colour variance can be broadly observed when it comes to appearance. Some common examples of broadleaf evergreen shrubs are rhododendrons, myrtles, camellia, boxwood, holly, mountain laurel, gardenia and more.

Deciduous Shrubs

These shrubs shed their leaves in certain seasons or due to certain weather conditions. Deciduous shrubs often display a classic variance of bright colours especially during the autumn, before they shed their leaves for the winter. The colour change is often seen only within their foliage. 

When spring comes, these deciduous shrubs grow new leaves which retain their original colour until autumn comes again and the cycle is repeated. Common examples of these shrubs include honeysuckle, Russian sage, pussywillow, abbotswood, hydrangea, lilac and more. 

Needled Evergreen Shrubs

These shrubs owe their name to the needle-like structure of their leaves. Regardless of whether the leaves are narrow or broad, their ends are tapered to resemble a needle. These shrubs do not have a prominent truck since most of their stems or branches start right at the base. Common examples of needled evergreen plants include juniper, mugo pine, yew and more. 

Characteristics of a Shrub

Shrubs are known for their features that they possess, and some of their noteworthy features are mentioned below.

Lack of a Prominent Truck- Most shrubs do not have a trunk but have a lot of stems instead. They are small in height and since they mostly branch near the ground, most of their branches or stems originate right at the base. 

Smaller than Plants- Shrubs mostly grow up to three metres in height which makes them a lot smaller than trees in comparison. They also do not have a single trunk that is able to support the pressure and weight of the various branches or stems.  

Broad Leaves- Shrubs usually have broad leaves and are also known as broad-leaved plants. 

Hardy Plants- Most shrubs are able to grow in various types of soil, whether fertile or not, which is why they are called hardy plants. 

Grows better in Sunny Environments- Shrubs grow better in a sunny environment as compared to conditions of drought. This is also because they are mostly seasonal. 

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Common examples of shrubs include rhododendrons, myrtles, camellia, boxwood, holly, mountain laurel, gardenia, juniper, mugo pine, yew and more. 

Functions of Shrubs

Listed below are the most important roles shrubs play in our environment.

  • They are used in the beautification of the landscape around us.

  • They can be grown in gardens, used to beautify backgrounds or even plant in garden beds. 

  • Shrubs also help in environment conservation by preventing soil erosion, water wastage and help in restoring the green cover of the planet. 

  • Shrubs are a major source of fuelwood.

  • They provide shelter to smaller organisms in the ecosystem. 

  • Parts of shrubs can be used for various purposes like obtaining fruits, using leaves, or make use of roots or tuber roots for other purposes. 

Uses of Shrubs

For Landscaping

Shrubs are used for landscaping purposes. Often a form of permanent planting, they contribute to gardening, background screens, fences, hedges, and more.

Ornamental Value

Shrubs have great ornamental value. They come in a variety of sizes, structures and colours. Flowering shrubs also contribute to the fragrance. They are evergreen, always look beautiful, and keep both noise and dust away. 

Provide Foliage

Some shrubs have dense foliage even during the winter season, for example, rhododendron. Certain deciduous bushes, on the other hand, have various stems branching out, often having fruits or flowers. Common examples are, lilac, barberry, cotoneaster, forsythia and more. 

Survival in Extreme Climatic Conditions

Certain shrubs have the capacity to survive in cold, freezing climates or slightly barren lands. In cases like these, they provide shelter to animals or bring about opportunities for flourishing natural life. They also provide sources of fuel when their branches or stems are dry. They also help in local construction under harsh climatic conditions. 

Environment Conservation

Shrubs help in conservation by preventing soil erosion, especially in areas prone to rainfall.