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6 Prominent Differences between Shrub and Bush


Have you ever wondered what the difference between shrub and bush and tree is? All these terminologies relate to each other and are commonly used when studying botany or horticulture. People often mention their favorite plants planted in their garden or backyard. Thus, a conversation about plants and trees is usually impossible without mentioning shrubs vs bushes. And unsurprisingly, often individuals new to gardening confuse them both.

If you are also looking for an answer, we got you covered. Keep reading to learn all the shrubs and bushes differences.

Comparison Table

DefinitionSmaller treesSmaller than
shrubs and trees
Height6 – 10 meters3 meters
StructureLeaves do not
touch the ground
Stems and leaves
are low hanging
FoliageThick and broadLess thick
MaintenanceRequiredNot required
ExamplesLemon and jasmineLavender and rose

What is a Shrub Plant?

A shrub is a woody, thick plant with a few stems or smaller trunks at the base. Shrubs are shorter than trees in height and are often used as decorative plants. Different types of biodiversity, such as forest biodiversity, are abundant with shrubs. They stay just above the ground surface throughout the year, and their branches may or may not slightly touch the ground.

Shrubs do not have proper trunks like trees and have broad leaves. The absence of a trunk is replaced by a few or many stems that support the structure of the plant. They typically live in sunny areas and are seasonal. Shrubs are hardy plants and generally grow in all types of soil.

Besides their utilization in elevating the beauty of your garden, they also prevent soil erosion. They are often grown as backdrops and garden beds. Shrubs in some areas may be used for lumber and firewood. They contribute to the food webs and food chains by producing fruits consumed by animals, birds, and humans. Shrubs are of various kinds, such as evergreen, flowering, low growing, large, fragrant, and shade-loving shrubs


What is a Bush Plant?

When discussing the plant types, most people confuse bush vs shrub, just like they get baffled in algae and moss. While bushes and shrubs are related, they can be distinguished on the basis of a few characteristics. They are smaller plants, typically shorter than shrubs. However, they may have denser stems with thinner undergrowth. They are fuller than shrubs, and their height almost touches the ground, even on maturation.

Bushes provide similar benefits to shrubs, yet you may find them in unkempt areas. They may grow as multiple bushes side by side, giving rise to a wide area of busy appearance. They are home to different eukaryotic organisms like insects, reptiles, and amphibians, depending on their habitat and ecosystem.


Similarities Between Shrubs and Bushes

There might be a significant variation in shrubs and bushes, but both these plant types are somehow similar. The common traits while examining bush and shrub difference are as below:

  • Both belong to the kingdom Plantae as they are woody and perennial plants.
  • Although there’s a constant battle to know about shrub vs bush, they both own multiple stems coming from the base.
  • The differences between shrubs and bushes cannot deny their combined ecological benefit, such as helping the wildlife habitat.
  • Last but not least, they are shorter than trees in height.

Shrub vs Bush – Primary Differences



Shrubs are vascular plants that prevent water and soil erosion. These have a shorter height than trees.


On the contrary, when finding the difference as shrubs vs bushes, the latter are the plants with expanded multiple stems taking more area.



If you are tangled between bush and shrub concerning the height, know that the shrubs may grow to a height of 6 to 10 meters or up to 33 feet tall.


On the other hand, bushes are typically shorter than shrubs measuring as low as 3 meters.



Shrubs are taller than the bushes, which means they have a different structure. In simpler words, the leaves of shrubs do not touch the ground.


Contrarily, bushes are different from shrubs as they may be low-lying with the stem and foliage touching the ground surface sometimes.



Another prominent factor to segregate a shrub and a bush is the difference in their foliage. A shrub is a taller plant with comparatively thicker and broader foliage than a bush. They are conveniently shaped and groomed, unlike a bush.


In contrast when talking about bush and shrub difference here, these leaves of bushes are not as big or thick as shrubs and are almost touching the ground.



Gardeners also categorize shrubs as plants that need proper maintenance to stay in shape when arranged as hedges or boundaries.


On the contrary, bushes do not require proper pruning or maintenance and may grow intertwined with other plants in different biomes and ecosystems.



Some common examples of shrub plants include lemon, juniper, and jasmine.


Similarly, the plant habitat is full of bush examples, such as lavender, blueberry, roses, etc.

How are Shrub Bush and Hedge Related?

There is always a thought process that lets us think about landscaping shrubs and bushes. Did you ever wonder how shrubs, bushes, and hedge are related to each other? Hedges differ from shrub and bush as they are grown as a bundle of shrubs and bushes, making a thick fence along the green belt. You will usually observe these outside your house or besides walking on a track.

Are Shrubs and Bushes Interchangeable?

Despite the differences between shrub and bush, there is still a continuous debate regarding this shrub vs bush statement. They do not exist as specific phyla or classes of plants in the classification system and are used interchangeably. However, they are often recognized by their location and growth patterns. Technically, gardeners take free-growing, low-maintenance, shorter-than-trees plants as bushes. And they refer to similar plants requiring maintenance as shrubs.

The name of each type of plant also depends on the location and local names. Some people may be surprised to see that you take both kinds to be different from one another. However, a few might tell you where you can find each.

The Bottom Line

People often confuse shrub vs bush as they apparently look the same! However, these plants are not completely identical. Despite all the variating points in shrub and bush, both are still non-woody plants shorter than trees. The leaves of both also vary in thickness and size. The leaves of shrubs are thicker and broader than bushes. Bushes have a more ‘bushy’ structure with rich foliage and stem almost touching the ground. On the other hand, shrubs are comparatively tall.


Are shrub and bush the same?

Shrubs and bushes are not exactly the same, but the terms are widely used interchangeably as shrubs vs bushes. They are shorter than trees and do not have thick trunks. Shrubs and bushes are typically used for protection and adornment.

What’s the difference between a plant and a shrub?

Shrubs are a type of plant, typically between 6 to 10 meters. Plants taller than 1 foot up to 33 feet may sometimes be referred to as shrubs. However, those less than 1 foot are not classified as shrubs at all.

What is the difference between bush and shrub rose?

Shrubs roses are a more diverse group than modern bush roses. They have comparatively thornier stems and fragrant flowers appearing only once in summer.

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