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Trees are single-stemmed, perennial, woody plants taller than 3 m and exceeding 8 cm in diameter at breast height; shrubs are multi-stemmed and smaller. These definitions are somewhat arbitrary, since many species like willow, alder, cherry, and maple can grow as trees or shrubs, depending on the environment.
The term deciduous means “the dropping of a part that is no longer needed”. Deciduous trees shed annually. They shed their petals after flowering in the spring, they shed their leaves in autumn and they shed their fruit when it is ripe. Some deciduous trees commonly found in Edmonton are maples, aspen, poplar, and mountain ash.
Sometimes called evergreens, keep their foliage year-round and bear cones rather than flower and produce fruit. Most conifers have needle-like leaves such as the fir, pine, spruce and larch. Some, like cedar, cypress and juniper trees, have scale-like leaves. Conifers native to Canada include the Douglas fir, pine, spruce, larch, true fir, hemlock, cedar, cypress, juniper and yew.
A shrub or bush is a small to medium-sized woody plant. They are distinguished from trees by their multiple stems and shorter height, and are usually under 6 m (20 ft) tall. Common shrubs grown in Edmonton are; cotoneaster, spirea, dogwood, hydrangea, juniper, and mugo pine.
A rose is a woody perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae, or the flower it bears. There are over a hundred species and thousands of cultivars. They form a group of plants that can be erect shrubs, climbing or trailing with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles. Flowers vary in size and shape and are usually large and showy, in colours ranging from white through yellows and reds.
There are many apple trees hardy for the Edmonton region, producing small to medium sized fruit, flavours sweet to tart and ranging in colour. Small and medium sized, tart cherries produce very well and make the best cherry pies. Some hardy pears, apricots and plums are also available.
A wide variety of edible fruit bearing shrubs, perennials and vines take well to Alberta’s climate. Cherries, blueberries, saskatoons, haskaps (also known as honeyberry or honeysuckle), currants, and raspberries are among to hardy and abundant berry bearing shrubs found locally.