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A shrub or bush is a small to medium-sized woody plant . Unlike herbs, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground. They are distinguished from trees by their multiple stems and shorter height, and are usually under 6 m (20 ft) tall. Plants of many species may grow either into shrubs or trees , depending on their growing conditions. Small, low shrubs , generally less than 2 m (6.6 ft) tall, such as lavender , periwinkle and most small garden varieties of roses , are often termed "subshrubs".