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any one of a group of plants that includes all herbaceous species except true grasses, legumes, and sedges. Forbs are abundant in many types of meadows, especially mountain ones, and in meadow steppes. They predominate during the early stages in the development of meadows, for example, meadowsweet on forest clearings and Altherbosa in the Caucasus. Forbs also predominate in meadows that have undergone extreme overpasturing (lady’s-mantle and other alpine meadows), in places oversaturated with organic fertilizers (thickets of alpine dock on cattle resting places of the Caucasus and Carpathians), and in wet meadows where the true grasses have died off (mainly creeping crowfoot).
Forbs vary in ecological and biological properties and in economic value. Noxious forbs include onions, and poisonous forbs include Hellebore and Ranunculus. Some species are inedible or rarely eaten as forage. Some types of forbs are of relatively high feed value and are readily eaten by livestock (some wormwoods, saltworts, dandelion, cumin, ribwort). Others have significance as vermifuges. In various types of meadows forbs make up 10 to 60 percent (sometimes even more) of the herbage. Many forbs grow in dry-valley, lowland, and wet meadows of the nonchernozem zone, as well as in meadows in the steppe zone with intervalley chernozems. Many different kinds of forbs are found on mountain meadows.
Forbs are used principally as pasturage. In hay form, the leaves and tender snoots dry out and are crushed and lost. Cultivated pastures do not include forbs.