The ecotopes collection of understory trees is comprised of smaller native trees that have evolved to live in the full shade or the shaded edge of larger canopy trees. In the urban context, these shade effects may be created also by nearby structures.
The understory layer in the landscape is important because it fills the mid-level volume created by the canopy with attractive foliage + color, while adding to the landscape’s biodiversity.
A landscape ecologist has described these trees as nursing under the protection of the canopy, ready to fill the void should the canopy decline, therefore these trees can themselves usually be featured in full sun exposure.
Understory trees often leaf out + bloom in advance of the canopy, taking advantage of the open window to the sunlight to flourish, as evidenced by the often bright colors they produce each year.