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A shrub is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and lower height, usually less than 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants can be either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience. Small, low shrubs such as lavender, periwinkle and thyme are often termed subshrubs.

An area of cultivated shrubs in a park or garden is known as a shrubbery. When clipped as topiary, shrubs generally have dense foliage and many small leafy branches growing close together. Many shrubs respond well to renewal pruning, in which hard cutting back occurs. Other shrubs respond better to selective pruning to reveal their structure and character. Shrubs can be either deciduous or evergreen.

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