understory

noun
un·​der·​sto·​ry | \ ˈən-dər-ˌstȯr-ē How to pronounce understory (audio) \

Definition of understory

1 : an underlying layer of vegetation specifically : the vegetative layer and especially the trees and shrubs between the forest canopy and the ground cover
2 : the plants that form the understory

Examples of understory in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Red-cockadeds won’t carve cavities in pines where the understory is tall and dense. National Geographic, "How wildfires have helped these woodpeckers make a comeback," 17 Sep. 2020 Coffee plants can be grown either in the understory of tree canopies, a practice that helps sustain migratory bird habitat, or in direct sunlight, which drives deforestation and leads to less diverse habitats. Anna Diamond, Smithsonian Magazine, "Why Does Lightning Rarely Strike in the Arctic? And More Questions From Our Readers," 10 Apr. 2020 Currently, these canopy trees use the vast majority of the light that reaches the Amazon (as much as 95 percent in some places) and the juvenile understory trees are left with what remains. Popular Science, "Young trees have special adaptations that could save the Amazon," 6 Aug. 2020 As the building morphed to accommodate its antique understory, construction costs ballooned to more than four times their original estimate, totaling some $120 million. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Turkish Hotel ‘Floats’ Above Ancient Ruins," 20 Apr. 2020 Underfoot, fossils weather out of ancient limestone while lizards, squirrels and wild turkeys dart through an understory of blooming shrubs and wildflowers. Mare Czinar, azcentral, "You'll see summer wildflowers on this Coconino National Forest hike. Here's how to do it," 29 May 2020 Numerous native and non-native species of dogwood (Cornus spp.) can be found growing in the understory of forests or in transition zones between forest and field. Tim Macwelch, Outdoor Life, "13 Toxic Wild Plants That Look Like Food," 13 Aug. 2019 The mahouts move through the understory like Jedi, accessing unseen information and plotting less than obvious courses that lead repeatedly to coconut-size turds, shattered vegetation, and other evidence of MBN’s panicked flight. Paul Kvinta, Outside Online, "I Bought an Elephant to Find Out How to Save Them," 12 Nov. 2019 Deciduous trees have also crowded out longleaf pines in undeveloped areas where there haven’t been enough natural fires to clear out the understory and maintain the character of the forest. Dennis Pillion | Dpillion@al.com, al, "Red-cockaded woodpecker offers link to forests of Alabama’s past," 28 Oct. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'understory.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of understory

1902, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler

The first known use of understory was in 1902

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Last Updated

30 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Understory.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/understory. Accessed 30 Sep. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on understory

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about understory

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