American Standard for Nursery Stock

This guidebook provides buyers and sellers of nursery stock with a common terminology in order to facilitate transactions involving nursery stock.
American Standard for Nursery Stock - Articles


Common terminology

This guidebook was first developed in 1921 as a standardized system of sizing and describing plants to facilitate the trade in nursery stock. For instance, the standards establish common techniques for:

  • measuring plants
  • specifying and stating the size of plants
  • determining the proper relationship between height and caliper, or height and width
  • determining whether a root ball or container is large enough for a particular size plant

In other words, this book is a communication tool, and does not provide buyers with any assurance of the health or quality of the nursery stock being specified or sold.

In order to locate the specifications for a particular plant, you should know:

  • what type of plant it is, such as whether it is a shade or flowering tree, a coniferous or broadleaf evergreen, a young plant (seedlings, ground covers, or lining out stock), a perennial or bulb, etc.
  • the growth habit of the particular species, (e.g., upright, conical, spreading, multi-stemmed, etc.)
  • the method of production of the plant and the manner in which the plant will be sold (e.g., balled and burlapped, bare root, containerized, etc.)


  • Shade and flowering trees
  • Deciduous Shrubs
  • Coniferous Evergreens
  • Broadleaf Evergreens
  • Rose
  • Young plants
  • Fruit Trees
  • Small Fruit
  • Understock
  • Seedling trees and shrubs
  • Bulbs, corms and tubers
  • Herbaceous perennials, ornamental grasses, groundcovers, and vines
  • Christmas trees

External Article

American Standard for Nursery Stock (