A herbaceous plant is a plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

 that has leaves
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 and stems
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

 that die down at the end of the growing season to the soil level. They have no persistent woody stem above ground. Herbaceous plants may be annual
Annual plant
An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. True annuals will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed...

s, biennial
Biennial plant
A biennial plant is a flowering plant that takes two years to complete its biological lifecycle. In the first year the plant grows leaves, stems, and roots , then it enters a period of dormancy over the colder months. Usually the stem remains very short and the leaves are low to the ground, forming...

s or perennial
Perennial plant
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...


Annual herbaceous plants die completely at the end of the growing season or when they have flowered and fruited, and they then grow again from seed.

Herbaceous perennial and biennial plants have stem
Plant stem
A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, inflorescence , conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another...

s that die at the end of the growing season, but parts of the plant survive under or close to the ground from season to season (for biennials, until the next growing season, when they flower and die). New growth develops from living tissues remaining on or under the ground, including root
In vascular plants, the root is the organ of a plant that typically lies below the surface of the soil. This is not always the case, however, since a root can also be aerial or aerating . Furthermore, a stem normally occurring below ground is not exceptional either...

s, a caudex
A caudex is a form of stem morphology appearing as a thickened, short, perennial stem that is either underground or near ground level . It may be swollen for the purpose of water storage, especially in xerophytes...

 (a thickened portion of the stem at ground level) or various types of underground stem
Underground stem
Underground stems are modified plant structures that derive from stem tissue but exist under the soil surface. Plants have two axes of growth, which can be best seen from seed germination and growth. Seedlings develop two structures or axes of growth, one that develops upward out of the soil,...

s, such as bulb
A bulb is a short stem with fleshy leaves or leaf bases. The leaves often function as food storage organs during dormancy.A bulb's leaf bases, known as scales, generally do not support leaves, but contain food reserves to enable the plant to survive adverse conditions. At the center of the bulb is...

s, corm
A corm is a short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ used by some plants to survive winter or other adverse conditions such as summer drought and heat ....

s, stolon
In biology, stolons are horizontal connections between organisms. They may be part of the organism, or of its skeleton; typically, animal stolons are external skeletons.-In botany:...

s, rhizomes and tuber
Tubers are various types of modified plant structures that are enlarged to store nutrients. They are used by plants to survive the winter or dry months and provide energy and nutrients for regrowth during the next growing season and they are a means of asexual reproduction...

s. Examples of herbaceous biennials include carrot
The carrot is a root vegetable, usually orange in colour, though purple, red, white, and yellow varieties exist. It has a crisp texture when fresh...

, parsnip
The parsnip is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler than most carrots and have a sweeter taste, especially when cooked. The buttery, slightly spicy, sweet flavor of cooked mature parsnips is reminiscent of butterscotch, honey, and subtle cardamom...

 and common ragwort; herbaceous perennials include peony
Peony or paeony is a name for plants in the genus Paeonia, the only genus in the flowering plant family Paeoniaceae. They are native to Asia, southern Europe and western North America...

, hosta
Hosta is a genus of about 23–45 species of lily-like plants in the family Asparagaceae, subfamily Agavoideae, native to northeast Asia. They have been placed in their own family, Hostaceae ; like many 'lilioid monocots', they were once classified in the Liliaceae...

, mint, most fern
A fern is any one of a group of about 12,000 species of plants belonging to the botanical group known as Pteridophyta. Unlike mosses, they have xylem and phloem . They have stems, leaves, and roots like other vascular plants...

s and most grasses
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

. By contrast, non-herbaceous perennial plants are woody plant
Woody plant
A woody plant is a plant that uses wood as its structural tissue. These are typically perennial plants whose stems and larger roots are reinforced with wood produced adjacent to the vascular tissues. The main stem, larger branches, and roots of these plants are usually covered by a layer of...

s which have stems above ground that remain alive during the dormant season and grow shoots the next year from the above-ground parts – these include tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

s, shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s and vine
A vine in the narrowest sense is the grapevine , but more generally it can refer to any plant with a growth habit of trailing or scandent, that is to say climbing, stems or runners...


Some relatively fast-growing herbaceous plants (especially annuals) are pioneers
Pioneer species
Pioneer species are species which colonize previously uncolonized land, usually leading to ecological succession. They are the first organisms to start the chain of events leading to a livable biosphere or ecosystem...

, or early-successional species. Others form the main vegetation of many stable habitats, occurring for example in the ground layer of forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

s, or in naturally open habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

s such as meadow
A meadow is a field vegetated primarily by grass and other non-woody plants . The term is from Old English mædwe. In agriculture a meadow is grassland which is not grazed by domestic livestock but rather allowed to grow unchecked in order to make hay...

, salt marsh
Salt marsh
A salt marsh is an environment in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and salt water or brackish water, it is dominated by dense stands of halophytic plants such as herbs, grasses, or low shrubs. These plants are terrestrial in origin and are essential to the stability of the salt marsh...

 or desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...


Some herbaceous plants can grow rather large, such as the Musa
Musa (genus)
Musa is one of three genera in the family Musaceae; it includes bananas and plantains. There are over 50 species of Musa with a broad variety of uses....

genus, to which the banana
Banana is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa and for the fruit they produce. Bananas come in a variety of sizes and colors when ripe, including yellow, purple, and red....


The age of some herbaceous perennial plants can be determined by analyzing annual growth rings in the secondary root xylem, a method called herbchronology
Herbchronology is the analysis of annual growth rings in the secondary root xylem of perennial herbaceous plants. While leaves and stems of perennial herbs die down at the end of the growing season the root often persists for many years or even the entire life...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.