Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community characterised by vegetation dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, herbs, and geophytes. Shrubland may either occur naturally or be the result of human activity. It may be the mature vegetation type in a particular region and remain stable over time, or a transitional community that occurs temporarily as the result of a disturbance, such as fire. A stable state may be maintained by regular natural disturbance such as fire or browsing. Shrubland may be unsuitable for human habitation because of the danger of fire. The term was coined in 1903.[1]

Shrubland species generally show a wide range of adaptations to fire, such as heavy seed production, lignotubers, and fire-induced germination.[2]

Starr 010831-0016 Morella faya
Low shrubland in Hawaii
Scrub brush vegetation in south TX IMG 6069
Scrub vegetation with cactus in Webb County in south Texas

Botanical structural form

In botany and ecology a shrub is defined as a much-branched woody plant less than 8 m high and usually with many stems. Tall shrubs are mostly 2–8 m high, small shrubs 1–2 m high and subshrubs less than 1 m high.[3]

A descriptive system widely adopted in Australia to describe different types of vegetation is based on structural characteristics based on plant life-form, plus the height and foliage cover of the tallest stratum or dominant species.[4]

Prince Edward County Bird Observatory Scrubland
Shrubland in Prince Edward County, Ontario.

For shrubs 2–8 m high the following structural forms result:

  • dense foliage cover (70–100%) — closed-scrub
  • mid-dense foliage cover (30–70%) — open-
  • very sparse foliage cover (<10%) — tall open shrubland

For shrubs <2 m high the following structural forms result:

  • dense foliage cover (70–100%) — closed-heath
  • mid-dense foliage cover (30–70%) — open-heath
  • sparse foliage cover (10–30%) — low shrubland
  • very sparse foliage cover (<10%) — low open shrubland

Biome plant group

Fynbos in South Africa

Similarly, shrubland is a category used to describe a type of biome plant group. In this context, shrublands are dense thickets of evergreen sclerophyll shrubs and small trees,[5] called:

In some places shrubland is the mature vegetation type, and in other places the result of degradation of former forest or woodland by logging or overgrazing, or disturbance by major fires.

A number of World Wildlife Fund biomes are characterized as shrublands, including:[6][7]

Desert scrublands
Nullabor plain from the indian pacific
The Nullarbor plain in Australia

Xeric or desert scrublands occur in the world's deserts and xeric shrublands ecoregions, or in areas of fast-draining sandy soils in more humid regions. These scrublands are characterized by plants with adaptations to the dry climate, which include small leaves to limit water loss, thorns to protect them from grazing animals, succulent leaves or stems, storage organs to store water, and long taproots to reach groundwater.[6]

Mediterranean scrublands

Mediterranean scrublands occur naturally in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biomes, located in the five Mediterranean climate regions of the world. Scrublands are most common near the seacoast, and have often adapted to the wind and salt air of the ocean. Low, soft-leaved scrublands around the Mediterranean Basin are known as garrigue in France, phrygana in Greece, tomillares in Spain, and batha in Israel. Northern coastal scrub and coastal sage scrub occur along the California coast, strandveld in the Western Cape of South Africa, coastal matorral in central Chile, and sand-heath and kwongan in Southwest Australia.[7]

Interior scrublands

Interior scrublands occur naturally in semi-arid areas where soils are nutrient-poor, such as on the matas of Portugal which are underlain by Cambrian and Silurian schists. Florida scrub is another example of interior scrublands.

Dwarf shrubs
Shira moorlands on Kilimanjaro
Moorland on Kilimanjaro

Some vegetation types are formed of dwarf-shrubs: low-growing or creeping shrubs. These include the maquis and garrigues of Mediterranean climates, and the acid-loving dwarf shrubs of heathland and moorland.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition (2003).
  2. ^ Mares, Michael S., ed. (1999). "Fire". Encyclopedia of deserts. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-8061-3146-7.
  3. ^ Flora of New South Wales, Vol.4 ed. Gwen J. Harden, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney ISBN 0-86840-188-9
  4. ^ Costermans, L. F. (1993) Native trees and shrubs of South-Eastern Australia. rev. ed. ISBN 0-947116-76-1
  5. ^ Woodward, Susan. "Mediterranean Shrublands". Geography 235. Radford University. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
  6. ^ a b "Deserts and Xeric Shrublands". World Wildlife Fund. Archived from the original on 2011-01-02. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
  7. ^ a b "Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands and Scrub". World Wildlife Fund. Archived from the original on 2017-01-11. Retrieved 2010-10-07.
Banded quail

The banded quail (Philortyx fasciatus) is a species of bird in the family Odontophoridae. It is found only in Mexico where its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland, and heavily degraded former forest.

Baron de Saumarez

Baron de Saumarez, in the Island of Guernsey, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 15 September 1831 for the prominent naval commander Admiral Sir James Saumarez, 1st Baronet. He had already been created a Baronet, of Guernsey, on 13 June 1801. Lord de Saumarez was succeeded by his eldest son James, the second Baron, a clergyman. James was succeeded by his younger brother, John, the third Baron, whose son, the fourth Baron, was a career diplomat who bought the family estate at Castel, Guernsey, from his father, the third Baron, who wished to sell it. However, by marrying an heiress, the fourth Baron also brought estates in Suffolk into the family.

The family seat was at Castel in Guernsey from the time of the first baron until the fourth Baron died there in 1937. After the German occupation of the Channel Islands during the Second World War, the later barons lived mostly at their Shrubland Park estate, near Ipswich, in Suffolk. As of 2015 the titles are held by the fourth Baron's great-grandson, the seventh Baron, who succeeded his father the sixth Baron in 1991. Although born and brought up in Suffolk, in April 2006, after the death of his mother, the present Lord de Saumarez sold Shrubland Park and settled in Guernsey.

Not be confused with Saumarez Park at Castel, the Sausmarez Manor estate at Saint Martin in Guernsey belongs to the senior line of the Sausmarez family, from which the Barons de Saumarez are descended. Matthew de Sausmarez (1718–1778), father of the first baron, was a younger brother of John de Sausmarez (1706–1774), of Sausmarez Manor.

Cape Floristic Region

The Cape Floristic Region is a floristic region located near the southern tip of South Africa. It is the only floristic region of the Cape (South African) Floristic Kingdom, and includes only one floristic province, known as the Cape Floristic Province.

The Cape Floristic Region, the smallest of the six recognised floral kingdoms of the world, is an area of extraordinarily high diversity and endemism, and is home to over 9,000 vascular plant species, of which 69 percent are endemic. Much of this diversity is associated with the fynbos biome, a Mediterranean-type, fire-prone shrubland. The economical worth of fynbos biodiversity, based on harvests of fynbos products (e.g. wildflowers) and eco-tourism, is estimated to be in the region of R77 million a year. Thus, it is clear that the Cape Floristic Region has both economic and intrinsic biological value as a biodiversity hotspot.


Chaparral () is a shrubland or heathland plant community found primarily in the US state of California and in the northern portion of the Baja California Peninsula, Mexico. It is shaped by a Mediterranean climate (mild, wet winters and hot dry summers) and wildfire, featuring summer-drought-tolerant plants with hard sclerophyllous evergreen leaves, as contrasted with the associated soft-leaved, drought-deciduous, scrub community of coastal sage scrub, found below the chaparral biome. Chaparral covers 5% of the state of California and associated Mediterranean shrubland an additional 3.5%. The name comes from the Spanish word chaparro, for evergreen oak shrubland.

Deserts and xeric shrublands

Deserts and xeric shrublands are a habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. Deserts and xeric shrublands form the largest terrestrial biome, covering 19% of Earth's land surface area.Ecoregions in this habitat type vary greatly in the amount of annual rainfall they receive, usually less than 250 millimetres (10 in) annually. Generally evaporation exceeds rainfall in these ecoregions. Temperature variability is also diverse in these lands. Many deserts, such as the Sahara, are hot year-round but others, such as Asia's Gobi, become quite cold in winter.Temperature extremes are a characteristic of most deserts. Searing daytime heat gives way to cold nights because there is no insulation provided by humidity and cloud cover. The diversity of climatic conditions,though quite harsh, supports a rich array of habitats. Many of these habitats are ephemeral in nature, reflecting the paucity and seasonality of available water.Woody-stemmed shrubs and plants characterize vegetation in these regions. Above all, these plants have evolved to minimize water loss. Animal biodiversity is equally well adapted and quite diverse.


Garrigue or phrygana (, Greek Φρύγανα) is a type of low, soft-leaved scrubland ecoregion and plant community in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome.

It is found on limestone soils in southern France and around the Mediterranean Basin, generally near the seacoast where the moderated Mediterranean climate provides annual summer drought.The term has also found its way into haute cuisine, suggestive of the resinous flavours of a garigue shrubland.

Greater hedgehog tenrec

The greater hedgehog tenrec or large Madagascar hedgehog or sokina (Setifer setosus, formerly known as Dasogale fontoynonti) is a species of mammal in the family Tenrecidae. It is endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forest, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical moist montane forest, dry savanna, moist savanna, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical moist shrubland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland, subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, rural gardens, urban areas and zoos.It is the only species in the genus Setifer. Despite the close resemblance, it is not closely related to hedgehogs.


A heath () is a shrubland habitat found mainly on free-draining infertile, acidic soils and is characterised by open, low-growing woody vegetation. Moorland is generally related to high-ground heaths with—especially in Great Britain—a cooler and damper climate.

Heaths are widespread worldwide, but are fast disappearing and considered a rare habitat in Europe. They form extensive and highly diverse communities across Australia in humid and sub-humid areas where fire regimes with recurring burning are required for the maintenance of the heathlands. Even more diverse though less widespread heath communities occur in Southern Africa. Extensive heath communities can also be found in the California chaparral, New Caledonia, central Chile and along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to these extensive heath areas, the vegetation type is also found in scattered locations across all continents, except Antarctica.

Maquis shrubland

Maquis (French) or macchia (Italian: macchia mediterranea) is a shrubland biome in the Mediterranean region, typically consisting of densely growing evergreen shrubs.

Montane grasslands and shrublands

Montane grasslands and shrublands is a habitat type defined by the World Wildlife Fund. The biome includes high altitude grasslands and shrublands around the world. The term "montane" in the name of the biome refers to "high altitude", rather than the ecological term which denotes the region below treeline.

This habitat type includes high elevation (montane and alpine) grasslands and shrublands, including the puna and páramo in South America, subalpine heath in New Guinea and East Africa, steppes of the Tibetan plateaus, as well as other similar subalpine habitats around the world.The plants and animals of tropical montane páramos display striking adaptations to cool, wet conditions and intense sunlight. Around the world, characteristic plants of these habitats display features such as rosette structures, waxy surfaces, and abundant pilosity.The páramos of the northern Andes are the most extensive examples of this habitat type. Although ecoregion biotas are most diverse in the Andes, these ecosystems are distinctive wherever they occur in the tropics. The heathlands and moorlands of East Africa (e.g., Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Rwenzori Mountains), Mount Kinabalu of Borneo, and the Central Range of New Guinea are all limited in extent, isolated, and support endemic plants and animals.Drier subtropical montane grasslands, savannas, and woodlands include the Ethiopian Highlands, the Zambezian montane grasslands and woodlands, and the montane habitats of southeastern Africa.The montane grasslands of the Tibetan Plateau still support relatively intact migrations of Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsoni) and kiang, or Tibetan wild ass (Equus hemionus). A unique feature of many tropical páramos is the presence of giant rosette plants from a variety of plant families, such as Lobelia (Africa), Puya (South America), Cyathea (New Guinea), and Argyroxiphium (Hawai’i). These plant forms can reach elevations of 4,500–4,600 metres (14,800–15,100 ft) above sea level.

Nama Karoo

Nama Karoo is a xeric shrubland ecoregion located on the central plateau of South Africa and Namibia. It occupies most of the interior of the western half of South Africa and extends into the southern interior of Namibia.


Rangelands are grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts that are grazed by domestic livestock or wild animals. Types of rangelands include tallgrass and shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands and shrublands, woodlands, savannas, chaparrals, steppes, and tundras. Rangelands do not include forests lacking grazable understory vegetation, barren desert, farmland, or land covered by solid rock, concrete and/or glaciers.

Rangelands are distinguished from pasture lands because they grow primarily native vegetation, rather than plants established by humans. Rangelands are also managed principally with practices such as managed livestock grazing and prescribed fire rather than more intensive agricultural practices of seeding, irrigation, and the use of fertilizers.

Grazing is an important use of rangelands but the term "rangeland" is not synonymous with "grazinglands". Livestock grazing can be used to manage rangelands by harvesting forage to produce livestock, changing plant composition or reducing fuel loads.

Fire is also an important regulator of range vegetation, whether set by humans or resulting from lightning. Fires tend to reduce the abundance of woody plants and promote herbaceous plants including grasses, forbs, and grass-like plants. The suppression or reduction of periodic wildfires from desert shrublands, savannas, or woodlands frequently invites the dominance of trees and shrubs to the near exclusion of grasses and forbs.

Rifle Gap State Park

Rifle Gap State Park is a Colorado State Park located in Garfield County near Rifle, Colorado. The 1,341-acre (5.43 km2) park established in 1966 includes a 360-acre (1.5 km2) reservoir. Plant communities are pinyon-juniper woodlands, sagebrush shrubland with deciduous riparian forest in places along the edge of the Rifle Gap Reservoir. Commonly observed wildlife include mule deer, elk and great horned owls. Park facilities include a visitors center, campgrounds, picnic sites and a boat ramp.


Rosmarinus officinalis, commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region.It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs. The name "rosemary" derives from Latin ros marinus ("dew of the sea"). The plant is also sometimes called anthos, from the ancient Greek word ἄνθος, meaning "flower". Rosemary has a fibrous root system.


A shrub or bush is a small- to medium-sized perennial woody plant. Unlike herbaceous plants, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground. They are distinguished from trees by their multiple stems and shorter height, less than 6 m-10 m (20 ft–33 ft) tall. Small shrubs, less than 2 m (6.6 ft) tall are sometimes termed subshrubs.

Steamboat Lake State Park

Steamboat Lake State Park is a Colorado state park located in Routt County 27 miles (43 km) north of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and near the community of Hahns Peak Village. The 2,820-acre (1,140 ha) park, established west of Hahns Peak in 1967, includes a 1,101 acres (446 ha) reservoir. Park facilities include a visitors center, marina, boat ramps, campsites, cabins, picnic sites and 5.5 miles (8.9 km) of hiking trails. Plant communities include sagebrush shrubland, quaking aspen and lodgepole pine forests, willow carr and marsh. Commonly seen mammalian wildlife species include mule deer and red fox. The reservoir attracts many species of shorebirds and waterfowl, including sandhill cranes that nest in the wetland areas.

Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands

Tropical and subtropical grasslands, savannas, and shrublands is a terrestrial habitat type defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature.. The biome is dominated by grass and/or shrubs located in semi-arid to semi-humid climate regions of subtropical and tropical latitudes.

Wharminda Conservation Park

Wharminda Conservation Park is a protected area in the Australian state of South Australia located on the Eyre Peninsula in the gazetted locality of Wharminda about 95 kilometres (59 mi) north of Port Lincoln and about 30 kilometres (19 mi) south of Lock.It was constituted as a conservation park under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 on 7 November 1985 on land all in Section 94 of the cadastral unit of the Hundred of Verran. It was dedicated to “conserve remnant vegetation” which is “dominated by mallee and shrubland” and has “no provision for access under state mining legislation.” Its name is derived from nearby features such as the “Wharminda Railway Siding.”As of 2007, the Wharminda Conservation Park partially contains a shrubland including the following plant associations and species of conservation concern. A “mallee community” dominated by Eucalyptus peninsularis which was considered to be “a state endangered ecosystem” was present in the conservation park. Two sub-populations of Bearded Emubush (Eremophila barbata) were located within the conservation park and which was reported as being “state and regionally rare.” The four following species which were considered as being “rare at a state level” have been recorded in the conservation park - Six-nerve Spine-bush (Acacia hexaneura), the Mallee Bitter-pea, the Blue Range Emubush and the Hidden Leek-orchid (Prasophyllum occultans).As of 2007, there was no access for visitors into the interior of the conservation park and nor was there plans to create such access.The conservation park is classified as an IUCN Category III protected area.

Woodland thicket rat

The woodland thicket rat (Grammomys dolichurus) is a species of rodent in the family Muridae.

It is found in Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forest, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical moist shrubland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude shrubland, subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland, arable land, pastureland, and urban areas.

See also
See also


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