Plant Database forum: Are dwarf conifers trees?

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Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Feb 8, 2016 10:06 AM CST
I just bought 'Feelin Blue' which is a dwarf conifer with an expected height of 1'. I added some info to the database and noted that it is classified as a tree. I didn't propose a change to a shrub, which is what I think of it as, and am wondering if all dwarf conifers are considered to be very short trees? Interesting if so. Which then begs the question: how does one differentiate a shrub from a tree?
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Name: Lin
Florida Zone 9b, 10a

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Feb 8, 2016 10:10 AM CST
I've read that Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara 'Feelin' Blue') only reaches 2 to 4 feed in height with a spread to 6 feet ... to me that's not a tree but rather a small shrub or ground cover.
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Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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Feb 8, 2016 12:53 PM CST
I was curious so I searched and found this definition of a tree.
"woody plant having one erect perennial stem (trunk) at least three inches in diameter at a point 4-1/2 feet above the ground, a definitely formed crown of foliage, and a mature height of at least 13 feet."

Of course that means that all young trees are at one point shrubs, and then grow into trees doesn't it? But not all shrubs will grow into trees. So it looks like maybe if it has the potential to become a tree it is classified as a tree?
[Last edited by Seedfork - Feb 8, 2016 12:56 PM (+)]
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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Feb 8, 2016 1:56 PM CST

Plants Admin

There is no real distinction between a "tree" and a "shrub". Both are woody plants with trees typically understood to have a single main stem, while shrubs are more commonly multi-stemmed. People generally think of trees as being bigger than shrubs, but there is no clear line between the two.

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