A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...
A woody plant is a plant that uses wood as its structural tissue. These are typically perennial plants whose stems and larger roots are reinforced with wood produced adjacent to the vascular tissues. The main stem, larger branches, and roots of these plants are usually covered by a layer of...
. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk
In botany, trunk refers to the main wooden axis of a tree that supports the branches and is supported by and directly attached to the roots. The trunk is covered by the bark, which is an important diagnostic feature in tree identification, and which often differs markedly from the bottom of the...
with clear apical dominance
In plant physiology, apical dominance is the phenomenon whereby the main central stem of the plant is dominant over other side stems; on a branch the main stem of the branch is further dominant over its own side branchlets....
. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to 6 m; some authors set a minimum of 10 cm trunk diameter (30 cm girth). Woody plants that do not meet these definitions by having multiple stems and/or small size are usually called shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...
s, although many trees such as mallee
Mallee may refer to:* Mallee , the habit of woody plants that grow with multiple stems from underground lignotubers* Mallee , a biogeographic region in southern Western Australia...
do not meet such definitions.