What is the difference between a field and a meadow? Well, not much. "Field" is used more often to describe an area managed by people. A field could contain a farmer's crops or it may be some other open area mown or managed in some way. Even a lawn could be considered a field. The term "meadow" is used to describe a more wild area.

Both fields and meadows are open areas with few or no trees. Grasses are usually the dominant (most common) plant in a meadow. Wildflowers and weeds are also common. Only a limited number of shrubs and trees are present. Eventually, if allowed to grow, bigger plants will take over a meadow and, after years, become a thicket. Later, thickets become forests.

Fields and meadows start when trees have been removed from an area. This can occur naturally with a forest fire or flood, or humans may cut down a forest. Seeds from grasses and weeds take root shortly after, and a meadow is born.

Meadows can be large or small and can occur anywhere, including in the middle of a forest, alongside a pond or stream, or in the middle of a highway.

Here are some things found in most meadows:


Most meadows have lots of grasses. Other plants grow there too, but grasses are the main plants. They don't look the same as grass in a lawn because they are allowed to grow wild without mowing. Grasses in a meadow grow tall and get small flowers and seeds. Grasses provide food and shelter for small animals, such as meadow voles.

Wildflowers and Weeds:

Other plants grow among the grasses. There isn't any real difference between a wildflower and a weed. Both have stems, leaves, and flowers. "Weed" is just a term people use to call an unwanted plant that grows in a garden or lawn. Wildflowers (and weeds) attract lots of insects and other animals.


Shrubs and Trees:

Just because shrubs and trees aren't the main plants in a meadow, doesn't mean there aren't any at all. Most meadows have at least a few of these, and some meadows have many but they're spaced out. Trees and shrubs look different in a meadow than they do in a forest. In a forest, trees compete with each other for light. This makes them grow up instead of out to the sides. Most of the leaves on a forest tree are at the top. In a meadow, a tree gets plenty of light. This means the it will grow shorter and wider.


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