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What is the shade of forest green?

What is the shade of forest green?

Forest green is a rich, dark green color that resembles the color of trees and foliage. It’s a popular color for paints, fabrics, and other design elements that aim to capture the essence of the forest. But forest green can vary subtly in shade and hue. So what exactly is the quintessential forest green?

Forest green sits between the green and blue-green hues on the color wheel. It’s a dark, cool green that derives its name from the appearance of dense forests. The first recorded use of “forest green” as a color name in English was in 1810. Since then, it’s become a staple color in fashion, interior design, landscaping, and more.

There are many shades that fall under the forest green umbrella. Most forest greens have a yellow undertone rather than blue. They also tend to be on the darker end of the green spectrum. Common types of forest green include pine green, artichoke green, and emerald green.

Key Characteristics

So what defines a true forest green? Here are some of the key characteristics:

Dark and muted – Forest greens are inherently dark in shade. They have low lightness and saturation compared to brighter greens like lime green. The dark mutedness evokes the lush density of a deep forest.

Green/yellow undertones – While some forest greens may tip slightly toward blue-green, most lean toward yellow-green. The yellowness balances the dark shade and keeps it feeling natural. An overly bluish forest green would start to look unnatural.

No grey tones – True forest greens don’t have grey undertones. Greener yellow balances the darkness. Too much grey would turn it into an olive green.

More yellow than emerald green – Emerald green is a jewel tone, meaning it’s highly saturated. Forest green is more subdued and contains less blue than emerald’s stronger yellow-green.

Cool in temperature – Forest greens skew toward the cool end of the color spectrum. They don’t have the warmth of yellow-greens like chartreuse or lime. The coolness enhances the natural depth.

Common Shades

While there’s no single forest green shade, some specific varieties stand out as the most iconic:

Pine Green

Pine green is one of the quintessential forest greens. As the name suggests, it resembles the color of pine trees. This cool yellow-green is medium-dark in shade. It’s muted but still vivid enough to feel energizing. Pine green brings the essence of an evergreen forest.

Artichoke Green

Despite its funny name, artichoke green is another refined forest green. It’s on the darker end of the spectrum but still distinctly green rather than olive. Artichoke green is more muted than pine green with a higher percentage of grey. Its elegance makes it popular for home furnishings.

Green Sheen

Green sheen is often cited as a perfect true forest green. It sits right in the center of the green and yellow-green color spectrum. With mid-range darkness and saturation, green sheen has versatility for many applications. Its balance of cool and warm makes it universally flattering.

British Racing Green

British racing green is a vivid forest green that owes its name to the British racing industry. It’s dark and cool in tone but still bright enough to stand out. British racing green conveys a classic, upscale sensibility. It was also the color of fire engines in Britain for decades.

Shamrock Green

Shamrock green is on the lighter end of the forest green family. It’s a grayish pastel green named after the clover-like shamrock plant. Shamrock green reads as a softer, more feminine forest green. It provides an airy, muted effect.

English Holly Green

This green gets its name from the glossy english holly bush. It has more blue undertones than many forest greens. The rich bluish shade resembling holly leaves gives it vibrancy. English holly green pops against darker neutrals like black or chocolate brown.

MSU Green

MSU green is the forest green shade used in the branding for Michigan State University. It’s medium-dark in tone with strong yellow undertones. MSU green is bold and versatile enough for apparel, merchandise, and university facilities. It’s one of the most famous institutional forest greens.

Forest Green vs. Other Greens

It can be helpful to compare forest green to other types of green to understand its distinguishing characteristics:

Green Type Characteristics
Forest Green Dark, cool yellow-green with muted vibrancy resembling lush tree foliage
Emerald Green Deep cool jewel tone green with strong saturation
Lime Green Bright light green with vivid yellow undertones
Mint Green Pale cool pastel green with subtle vibrancy
Olive Green Dull muted green with prominent grey-green undertones
Jade Green Soft light green with strong blue undertones

This comparison shows forest green’s balance of darkness, yellowness, and coolness that distinguishes it from other green varieties.

Use in Design

Forest green has many applications in design. Its natural earthiness makes it versatile:


In home decor, forest green can create comfortable, nature-inspired spaces. As an accent color, it works well with white walls and wood furniture. And for small doses of color, forest green plants, pillows and art add refreshing vibrancy. Dark forest green also contrasts beautifully with brass hardware and lighting.


For yards and outdoor areas, dark forest greens complement greenery and wooded surroundings. The color is ideal for garden structures, furniture, fencing, and the exterior of homes. Forest green patio umbrellas and gazebos provide cooling shade.


Forest green packaging conveys organic sensibilities. It works for eco-friendly, sustainable and natural products. Forest green boxes, bottles and wrappers signal the natural ingredients and earthy qualities of the contents.


In clothing, forest green flatters most complexions year-round. It can communicate fashion-forward boldness or classic refinement depending on the shade darkness. Both women and men can incorporate forest green accessories or statement pieces into everyday outfits.

Promotional Items

Forest green makes for festive promotional products and event decor. The color helps capture the excitement of major events, festivals, holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, and grand openings. Branded forest green giveaways and merchandise feel lively but more sophisticated than neon greens.


Forest green sits in the crossroads of dark and light, cool and warm. Its versatility gives it broad appeal. While forest green has many incarnations, the quintessential shades sit comfortably in the middle, providing the perfect balance of muted and vivid. Pine green, green sheen, and artichoke green exemplify the classic forest green. Whether used for branding, events, or design, forest green conveys organic vibrancy. This woodland shade brings a little of the forest anywhere.