Underbrush

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Underbrush

 

a group of plants consisting of shrubs or, less frequently, tree varieties that never form part of the dominant crown cover. Unlike undergrowth, underbrush never replaces previous stands of trees. Characteristic shrubs include common juniper, woodbine, warty spindle tree, alder buckthorn, filbert, and Tartar maple (Acer tataricuni). Many second- and third-magnitude trees often play a more important role in the underbrush than shrubs. Such trees include mountain ash and goat willow. Sometimes the underbrush includes trees, such as the linden, that would be first-magnitude species under normal conditions.

Many underbrush varieties are used as food or fodder, and some have medicinal and industrial uses. The underbrush is important to the life of the forest: it affects the formation of tree trunks and helps rid them of twigs. It also has an extremely important influence on the general forest environment (soil, microclimate). The underbrush provides a home for insectivorous birds— the “orderlies” of the forest. In forests near rivers, lakes, and reservoirs the underbrush protects against erosion.

I. S. MELEKHOV