Difference Between Herbs and Shrubs (With Table)

All living things on earth are divided mainly into two categories, the first is Animals and the second one is Plants. Plants are further divided into many other subcategories, in which Herbs and Shrubs are two different categories of plants that are normally confused as same.

Herbs vs Shrubs

The difference between Herbs and Shrubs is in their size and pattern of their branches. Herbs are smaller in size, and it has unbranched, soft stems on the other hand Shrubs are taller than herbs, and it has branched, and woody stems.

Herbs are defined as herbaceous plant according to botany, which means it does not have a woody stem and it also lacks branching system. The growing season can be annual, biennial, or perennial, which means the plant die and grows back after one year, two years, or more than two years, respectively.

Shrubs are types of plants with a woody stem and Larger than herbs but smaller than trees. It can be differentiated from a tree as it has more branches all over the stem and also near to the ground. The growing season is normally perennial. Its height can be around 6 to 10 m.

Comparison Table Between Herbs and Shrubs

Parameters of ComparisonHerbsShrubs
SizeIt is smaller in size.It is comparatively bigger.
Stem It has a nonwoody soft stem.It has a stiff woody stem.
BranchIts stems do not have branches.It has many branches from the base to the top.
Growing Season It has an annual, biennial, and perennial growing season.It has a perennial growing season.
Example Rice, Onion, Wheat, Grass, etc., are examples of herbs.Rose, Peach, Orange, Lavender, etc., are examples of shrubs.

What are Herbs?

Herbs are types of plants that are short in height and don’t have any woody stem. It has a soft green stem, and in some cases, it did not even have a stem, for example, grasses. It grows low to the ground and can go up to 2-3 meters in height.

It can have different life cycles like annual, biennial, or perennial according to the time it takes to grow completely and then die to form a new plant from it. After completing one life cycle, the stem dies completely, and the fruit or flowering part grows again as a new plant. It can also grow in the canopy of shrubs.

It has aromatic and medicinal properties that are useful for us. Due to these properties, it is used as medicine and also in foods to give a unique flavour. Other than culinary and medicinal use, it is also used to make tea leaves and sometimes to perform some rituals.

It can reproduce by seeds, flowers, and artificial methods like the stem cutting method. Some are fast-growing species and grow naturally in forests, grasslands, desert, etc., and some are cultivated using different methods for various purposes. Some examples of useful herbs are mint, rice, wheat, onion, etc.

What are Shrubs?

Plants are divided into many types. In which Shrubs are the type of plants that have woody branches and larger as compared to herbs but smaller than trees. It also has many branches that start from its base. It can be 6 to 10 meters in height, but some of them are shorter than 2 meters that are known as sub-shrubs.

It can be evergreen as well as deciduous. The life cycle of shrubs is generally perennial, which means it takes more than two years to grow completely and then die. It has a woody stem like trees, but it has multiple branches that start from its lower part, and these branches have many small leaves that make it different from trees.

Shrubs are of many kinds, some bear fruits and flowers, and some only have left on them. They are useful in many ways according to their types. The Shrubs that bear fruits are cultivated for commercial reasons, and some are cultivated just for decorative purposes. A shrub looks good in a row when maintained properly.

It has long and stiff roots that hold it with grounds so it can not be uprooted easily. There are a lot of examples of shrubs. Some of them are Rose, Orange, Peach, etc.

Main Differences Between Herbs and Shrubs

  1. The main difference between Herbs and Shrubs is that Herbs is comparatively smaller and it has a soft green stem, but Herbs are bigger, and it has a woody stem with many branches.
  2. Herbs do not have stiff roots, so they can be uprooted easily. On the other hand, Shrubs have stiff roots that hold them tightly with soil, so they can not be uprooted easily.
  3. Herbs do not have branches, and in some cases, it also lacks the main trunk whereas Shrubs have many branches started from its base.
  4. Herbs have three growing seasons, annual, biennial, and perennial, but Shrubs’ life cycle is of perennial type.
  5. Herbs are used for various purposes like medicines, for giving a unique flavour to food, for tea, etc., and Shrubs are used for decorative purposes and to get fruits.


Many people in the past tried to group all living things into particular categories. Theophrastus was an ancient Greek philosopher. First, he divided the plants into three types, trees, herbs, and shrubs. He uses many criteria like their height, their different type of stem, cells, and tissues of plants to differentiate them.

Herbs are the type of plants that are shorter in length and has a soft green stem, and in some cases, it also lacks the main trunk. In contrast, Shrubs are the type of plant that is comparatively bigger, and it has a stiff woody stem. It has a large number of stems that started from its base.


  1. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/20177200410
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Abdul_Matin5/publication/45725648_Traditional_Use_of_Herbs_Shrubs_and_Trees_of_Shogran_Valley_Mansehra_Pakistan/links/546213280cf2c1a63c0291ee.pdf
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