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Sunflower (Helianthus annuus), a large forb.

A forb (sometimes spelled phorb) is a herbaceous flowering plant that is not a graminoid (grasses, sedges and rushes). The term is used in biology and in vegetation ecology, especially in relation to grasslands[1] and understory.

The decline of a number of species of protein-rich forbs during the glacial maximum of 25,000 to 15,000 years ago is considered to be a major contributing factor in the megafauna extinctions.[2]


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

Forbs and guilds[edit]

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

Forbs in informal classification[edit]

In addition to its use in ecology, the term "forb" may be used for subdividing popular guides to wildflowers, distinguishing them from other categories such as grasses, sedges, shrubs, and trees.

Some examples of forbs are clover, sunflower, daylily, and milkweed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schröder, Hans (2009). Grasslands: Ecology, Management and Restoration. Commack, N.Y: Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 1-60692-024-3. 
  2. ^ "A "smoking gun" on the Ice Age megafauna extinctions". University of Copenhagen. 2 February 2014. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  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. 

External links[edit]