A forb or phorb is a herbaceous flowering plant that is not a graminoid (grass, sedge, or rush). The term is used in biology and in vegetation ecology, especially in relation to grasslands[1] and understory.[2] Typically these are dicots without woody stems.

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus), a large forb.


The word "forb" is derived from Greek phorbḗ (φορβή), meaning "pasture" or "fodder".[3][4] The Hellenic spelling "phorb" is sometimes used, and in older usage this sometimes includes graminids and other plants currently not regarded as forbs.


Forbs are members of a guild—a group of plant species with broadly similar growth form.[5] In certain contexts in ecology, guild membership may often be more important than the taxonomic relationships between organisms.

In informal classificationEdit

In addition to its use in ecology, the term "forb" may be used for subdividing popular guides to wildflowers,[6] distinguishing them from other categories such as grasses, sedges, shrubs, and trees.[7] Some examples of forbs are clovers, sunflowers, daylilies, and milkweed.


Linnaean taxonomy family names are given.[8] Acanthaceae, Aizoaceae, Amaranthaceae, Apiaceae, Apocynaceae, Asclepiadaceae, Asteraceae, Balsaminaceae, Begoniaceae, Boraginaceae, Brassicaceae, Buxaceae, Campanulaceae, Cannabaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Clusiaceae, Convolvulaceae, Crassulaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Cuscutaceae, Dipsacaceae, Ericaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae, Gentianaceae, Geraniaceae, Gunneraceae, Haloragaceae, Hydrophyllaceae, Lamiaceae, Lentibulariaceae, Limnanthaceae, Linaceae, Lythraceae, Malvaceae, Moraceae, Nyctaginaceae, Onagraceae, Orobanchaceae, Oxalidaceae, Papaveraceae, Phytolaccaceae, Plantaginaceae, Plumbaginaceae, Polemoniaceae, Polygonaceae, Portulacaceae, Primulaceae, Ranunculaceae, Resedaceae, Rosaceae, Rubiaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Solanaceae, Thymelaeaceae, Urticaceae, Valerianaceae, Verbenaceae, Violaceae, Zygophyllaceae

See alsoEdit

  • Dicotyledon – Historical grouping of flowering plants
  • Herbaceous plant – Plant which has no persistent woody stem above ground
  • Overgrazing – When plants are grazed for extended periods without sufficient recovery time


  1. ^ Schröder, Hans (2009). Grasslands: Ecology, Management and Restoration. Commack, N.Y: Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 1-60692-024-3.
  2. ^ "Native Understory Forbs and Grasses". www.nrcs.usda.gov.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ Jaeger, Edmund C. (1959). A source-book of biological names and terms. Springfield, Ill: Thomas. ISBN 0-398-06179-3.
  4. ^ Scott, Robert Pickett; Henry, George (2007). Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged: Original Edition, republished in larger and clearer typeface. Simon Wallenburg Press. ISBN 1-84356-026-7.
  5. ^ Roxburgh, Stephen. A Demonstration of Guild Based Assembly Rules for a Plant Community and Determination of Intrinsic Guilds.
  6. ^ "Wildflower seeds and forbs". graniteseed.com. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  7. ^ "Describe the major differences between the plant families used as forages". Forage Information System. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
  8. ^ "Invasive Plant Atlas". Retrieved 25 Sep 2021.

External linksEdit