A field data set from 301 forest plots was collected during peak-growing season (June 24 - July 17, 2013) around Hyytiälä forestry field station in Southern Finland (61° 50’ N, 24° 17’ E). For all plots, forest variables were collected following local forest inventory practice, and understory cover fractions were estimated using a traditional sampling quadrat. The understory layer in each plot was classified into four site fertility types: herb-rich, mesic, sub-xeric, and xeric. The upper understory layer fractional covers were estimated for: 1) dwarf shrubs, 2) pteridophytes and herbaceous species, and 3) graminoids, and the lower ground layer fractional covers for: 1) mosses, 2) lichens, and 3) litter (including all non-photosynthetic material). Canopy transmittance data were collected using two LAI-2000 device. The transmittance data were used to calculate effective leaf area index, true leaf area index, canopy openness and canopy cover for all plots. The data can be used to parameterize tree canopy and understory compositions in e.g., physically-based reflectance models, land surface models, regional carbon cycle models. Interpretations of the results are provided in the related article .