understory

[uhn-der-stawr-ee, -stohr-ee]
noun
the shrubs and plants growing beneath the main canopy of a forest.

Origin:
1900–05; under- + story2

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Example sentences
But this lush canopy has distracted attention from the understory of the reef,
  he added.
The forest becomes more open and dry, losing much of its understory, including
  tree seedlings.
Bracken fern and wild ginger thrived in the late-summer understory.
The understory is kept clean of debris and shade tolerant species by periodic
  fires.
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