What Is The Difference Between Plants And Trees?

Plants and trees may share some similarities but are quite distinguishable from each other. So, what’s the difference between the two? Let’s find out!
What Is The Difference Between Plants And Trees?
What Is The Difference Between Plants And Trees?

If we gather all living things in the world, we can divide them into 5 major kingdoms. 

1. Monera

2. Fungi

3. Protista

4. Animalia

5. Plantae

Out of these 5, the Animalia and Plantae kingdoms are perhaps the most important ones. The former includes all animals and the latter includes all plants. 

The Plantae kingdom consists mostly of trees, herbs, shrubs, mosses, vines, bushes, and many others. 

However, despite the stark differences, there is still confusion regarding plants and trees. 

So, let’s understand the differences between plants and trees.

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Differences between Plants and Trees

Trees and plants are similar in one aspect, both have a vascular structure with roots, stems, and leaves moving food and water throughout them. 


  • Trees typically have one hard, long trunk with few leaves or branches on the lower half, compared to plants' numerous fragile or slightly woody stems.


  • The basic shapes of trees range from sprawling and curved to towering and pyramidal. They range in size from small trees that may only reach a height of 10 feet or that resemble shrubs to huge giants like the  Coniferous Coast redwood. On the other hand, plants are significantly shorter in height than trees and are found closer to the surface of the ground. These include grasses, mosses, herbs, shrubs, creepers, and climbers.


  • Trees have a thicker and sturdier stem, known as the trunk, whereas, plants have softer and fragile stems, often more than one, and even pseudostems. 


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  • All trees are autotrophs, ie., they produce complex organic substances using carbon, and all plants are either autotrophic or heterotrophic (organisms that eat plants for energy and food.)


  • While trees have a longer life span and can withstand severe climate changes, plants have a shorter life span and changes in temperature or weather affect their life and growth. 


  • Trees are mostly perennials, i.e., they continue to live for several years. On the other hand, plants are considered to be biennials or annuals, i.e., they complete their life cycle in two growing seasons.  


FACT: A tree is the oldest living thing on Earth. The oldest known non-cloned living thing on Earth is believed to be Methuselah, a 5000-year-old bristlecone pine in the Mountains of California. 

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Comparison Chart- Plants vs Trees






Fragile and slightly woody stems or pseudostems.

A sturdy and thick stem, also known as a trunk. 


Differ in sizes. Some are as small as grass, others can get tall like creepers or shrubs. 

Significantly taller in height than an average plant. Can even grow up to 300 feet. 


Autotrophic or heterotrophic


Average lifespan

Can live up to 2 to 100 years 

Can live for more than 100 years.

We hope that this article was helpful in understanding the difference between trees and plants. 

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Are trees alive Yes or no?

Yes, trees and other plants are living organisms. They live, grow, and die just like us.

Is a tree also a plant?

Yes. Every tree is a plant; however, the same cannot be said vice versa, i.e., every plant is not a tree.
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