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Layers of a Forest

Woods or forests are homes to many plants and animal species. This lesson explains about the layers of a forest.


Forest View

View of a forest


Layers of a forest


A wood or forest has different layers according to the trees or plants grow there.

What are the layers of a forest?


a)     Woodland trees (Tall trees)

b)     Shrub Layer

c)      Herb Layer

d)     Woodland floor


Read the lesson Rainforests to learn about the layers of a tropical rainforest.
Woodland trees


This is the highest layer in the forest. All the grown-up trees are included in this layer. Woodland trees are mainly two types.


woodland trees


What are deciduous trees?

Trees which lose their leaves in the autumn and grow leaves the following spring are called deciduous trees.

E.g. Oak, beech, larch, hickory etc.
What are evergreen trees?

Trees which produce and keep leaves all the year round are called evergreen trees.

E.g. Scots pine, eucalyptus, yew, holly etc.
Shrub layer


Beneath the woodland tree layer, shrub layer can be seen. Shrubs and small trees grow in the shrub layer.


Herb layer


Herb layer can be seen underneath the shrub layer. Herbaceous plants (non-woody plants), ferns and some small flowering plants can be seen in this layer.


What kind of a life cycle do the plants like; wood anemones and primroses have in a wood?


Wood anemones and primroses grow in the shrub and herb layers. Therefore these plants do not get much sunlight, because of the woodland tree layer. These plants grow and flower in the springtime before the deciduous trees develop their leaves. When the deciduous trees open their leaves, the smaller plants die down and survive on stored food until the following spring.


Woodland floor


This is the floor of the wood or forest. Many things can be seen on the woodland floor.

Life on the woodland floor



Mosses (very tiny leafy-stemmed flowerless plants)Beetles
Lichens (plants grow as crusty patches or bushy growths on tree trunks or bare ground etc.)Woodlice
Rotting logsSpringtails
Dead leavesMillipedes
 Many insects


  • Woodland plants like mosses and lichens need damp, shady places to grow. Woodland floor is the best habitat for them as it is dark and gets less sunlight.
  • Rotting logs and dead leaves are homes to many animals live on the woodland floor. These animals need to stay cool, dark and damp. So that they do not dry out and die. Therefore the woodland floor is the best habitat for them.
  • Fungi feed and grow on the fallen logs and branches and soften (make them soft) as the wood rots away. Insects can then burrow into the rotting wood.