Plants - Classification Based On Growth Habit

We see a huge variety of plants all around us. Despite this fact, they all have the same parts and the same functions. They appear unique with different types of stem, leaves, flowers, seeds etc. Therefore, the classification of plants is mainly based on several factors and it can be further classified based on their height, tenderness of stem, branches and their life cycle. But first, let us define the term “growth habit.”

What is meant by Growth Habit?

In horticulture, the term growth habit refers to a plant’s height, shape and the form of growth it undergoes. There are genetic factors as well as environmental inputs that play that contribute to a growth habit. For instance, even interaction with various animals influences the way plants adapt to their environment. From an evolutionary perspective, growth habits have the function of ensuring the survival and adaptation of plants in various habitats,  consequently increasing the chances of successfully passing on the genes to the next generation.

Plants And Its Classification

If we consider plants, based on their height, some are too short while some are too tall to climb. Besides the height, stem thickness, delicacy also varies.

For example– Short plants have greenish, soft, weak stems and big tall plants or trees have a thick, strong and woody stem which is hard to break. Based on growth habit, plants are broadly categorized into three groups. They are as follows:

Types of Plants

Herbs, Shrubs and Trees

Classification Based on Growth Habits

  • Herbs: Starting from the smallest, herb is a short plant with green, delicate stem without the woody tissues. Generally, they have few branches or are branchless. These can be easily uprooted from the soil. They contain enough nutritional benefits and vitamins to make it a part of our diet. Tomato, wheat, grass are a few examples of herbs.

  • Shrubs: Shrubs are much taller than herbs, usually averaging the height of an adult human. Superficial features include bushy, hard stems with branches. Although stems are hard, they are flexible but not fragile. Rose, lemon, and henna are some of the common shrubs around us.

  • Trees: Trees are big and tall plants. They have very thick and hard stems called the trunk. This single main stem i.e, trunk gives rise to many branches that bear leaves and fruits. Some trees are branchless like coconut tree; i.e., they have only one main stem which bears leaves, flowers, and fruits all by itself. Banyan, mango, cashew, are some examples of trees.

Suggested Reading: Microbes

In addition to these three categories of plants, there are two more types which need some support to grow. They are specifically called as climbers and creepers.

Plants And Its Classification

Climbers and Creepers

  • Climbers: Climbers are much more advanced than creepers. Climbers have a very weak stem but they can use external support to grow and carry their weight. These types of plants use special structures called tendrils to climb. Examples of climbers are pea plant, money plant, etc.

  • Creepers: Creepers, as the name suggests, are plants that creep on the ground. They have very fragile stems that can neither stand erect nor support all its weight. Examples include watermelon, pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

Further Reading: Decomposition

Important Questions about Plants

  1. How do herbs differ from shrubs?
  2. Briefly explain the classification of plants.
  3. What is meant by growth habit?
  4. What are the characteristics of herbs?
  5. Explain the various features of shrubs
  6. What are climbers? How are they different from creepers?
  7. What are creepers? Provide a few examples of creepers.
  8. State 5 examples of shrubs.

Learn more about plants and their structure, or explore the plant kingdom at BYJU’S.


Practise This Question

Sushweta wants to present her friend a gift made of plant fibre. Which one of the following will she select?