Definition - What does Ornamental mean?

Ornamental is a horticultural term that typically refers to those plants that are grown for commercial sale, but not for agricultural purposes such as food or fiber. Ornamental plants may include flowering, deciduous or evergreen trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, grasses, ground-covers, bulbs or houseplants. The same species of plant may be grown for multiple purposes and can fall into either category; the distinction is not always clear. For example, a Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) may be grown on a Christmas tree plantation as an agricultural crop or may be grown in a nursery for use in landscapes as an ornamental crop.

MaximumYield explains Ornamental

The term “ornamental” does not specifically preclude a plant’s ability to produce a commodity, but it is generally not the main purpose for its propagation or cultivation. Examples include the growing of hollies (Ilex sp.) to use for holiday decorations, pussy willows (Salix discolor) cut and sold for interior décor or even the cultivation of wild-growing plants such as Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) or Cattails (Typha angustifolia) for similar decorative purposes. Ornamental is not a term used by botanists, as the designation of “ornamental” is a judgment, such as the assignment of the term “weed” to plants that may not directly benefit humans.

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