Into The Woods - The Shrub Layer
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What is the Shrub Layer?

This layer is made up of young trees such as ash, and smaller woody plants such as willow, hazel, holly and hawthorn that generally are only up to 15 feet high.
Other plants such as bramble and ivy (when growing up a tree) are also found here.
If this layer is very dense then field and ground layer plants will be shaded out.
This layer provides a good home for birds, like thrushes, to nest in.
If the wood is very thick, little light gets in so shrubs cannot grow.

More about Shrubs.

Shrubs are usually found in wood clearings where there is more light for them to grow.
Some shrubs, such as holly and hawthorn produce fleshy seeds that provide food for birds and small animals.
Others, like hazel, produce nuts that are often carried away by squirrels and field mice and stored as food for the winter.
Brambles. like blackberry, are often found at the edges of the wood and provide lots of food for birds and insects.

Shrub Layer

Photo showing well developed shrub layer.

This shrub layer is mostly young trees growing in a clear area of the wood.
Notice that the field layer of ferns covers the ground layer. In very thick woods or in evergreen woods there are not many shrubs because it is too dark.
In this area of the wood there is plenty of light and space for shrubs to grow. As these shrubs grow their leaf canopy will shade out the field layer.

Berries on Holly Bush

Photo of berries on Holly bush

This photo shows Berries growing on a Holly bush.
Berries provide a good source of food for birds and small animals. The berries are often carried far away and eaten. The undigested hard seeds can grow into new bushes.
The shrub layer also provides shelter for many smaller woodland animals and a nesting place for some birds.

In summer the shrub layer can be quite dry and full of dead plant material. This causes a risk of fire so be very careful not to throw away glass objects or to light matches here