I am writing a story set mostly in a forest. One of the major location types in this story are the small patches of the forest that are dominated by the trees, and have a minimal amount of understory, so that they are easier to get through

I have yet had no luck in finding any relevant words for this idea. An example sentence could be "We walked along the new path until we reached the wide brown ______"

The word should ideally refer specifically to this concept, but I can accept more generic terms that refer to patches of a forest. The word should also not be so technical

  • It's usually coniferous forests that don't have plants growing under the trees, because ground covered in pine-needles etc. isn't suitable for the growth of other types of plants. Jun 6 at 12:21
  • @KateBunting … and beech woods, which suppress almost everything underneath. But this thought is secondary to the main question.
    – Anton
    Jun 6 at 13:04
  • @Anton - I meant that it depends on the type of woodland rather than being a distinct area in a forest. Jun 6 at 13:20
  • @KateBunting agreed. I merely add beech for completeness.
    – Anton
    Jun 6 at 13:23
  • I think of “deep” forest as having no understory.
    – Jim
    Jun 6 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


A grove is a small wooded area without significant understory (undergrowth, underbrush).

A grove can be an orchard or a clump of trees that doesn't have much undergrowth and occupies a contained area, like an orange grove or a small shady grove of oak trees where you can have a picnic.


Other dictionary definitions of grove (for the sense that is not an orchard):

a small wood or forested area, usually with no undergrowth: a grove of pines.
- Dictionary.com

a small wood without underbrush
- Merriam-Webster

It is rather a peculiar word as it is not found in any other Germanic language and it appears to have no cognates.

OED provides the below for the etymology:

Old English gráf masculine and neuter < prehistoric *graiƀo- . Compare greave n.1

  • I think the "without significant understory" implication arises from the fact that (as defined by the full OED), a grove is a group of trees affording shade or forming avenues or walks, occurring naturally or planted for a special purpose. As opposed to a thicket (into which small animals can run & hide - but not the people hunting them, because of all that low-level vegetation). Jun 6 at 11:23
  • It would be helpful to add Merriam Webster’s definition of grove, which suits perfectly.
    – Anton
    Jun 6 at 13:08
  • 1
    But I don’t think a grove is a part of a larger wooded area. It is a distinct stand of trees not surrounded by other trees.
    – Jim
    Jun 6 at 16:25
  • A grove is normally not part of a larger wooded area and I think the context in OP doesn't have to have that strong connotation. Although, I found some usages online like "grove in a forest", mostly in some novels or ecology related books. An example could be: "We walked far into the woods and reached to this secluded oak grove."
    – ermanen
    Jun 8 at 7:38

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