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All plants have unique life cycles and requirements in order to survive. One group of plants is known as perennials. In this lesson we will examine types of perennials and view examples of them.

Definition of Perennial Plants

A perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than two years. Many perennials grow and bloom over spring and summer, die back during fall and winter, and grow again the following year from their roots. This is not the case with all perennials. Some have adapted to survive the fall and winter months without dying back to their roots.

Types of Perennial Plants

Most botanists recognize five types of perennials.

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They include herbaceous, woody, monocarpic, deciduous, and evergreen.

  • Herbaceous perennials are typically grasses that grow in fire-prone areas and on prairies.
  • Woody perennials are found all over the world and include vines, shrubs, and large towering trees that take years to grow completely.
  • Monocarpic perennials are plants that flower and make seeds, then die. They are perennials because it takes them more than one year to complete this process.
  • Deciduous perennials are plants that shed their leaves in the fall of the year.
  • Evergreen perennials are those plants that live long lives and keep their foliage during the fall and winter months.

Examples of Perennial Plants

Let’s take a look at some examples. Red clover is an herbaceous perennial plant that can be found growing all over the prairies. Red clover is a favorite plant of farmers to feed to livestock and is important because it fixes nitrogen in the soil. It takes the red clover more than two years to flower and reproduce, making it a true perennial.The next time you buy an apple at the supermarket you will know you are buying the fruit of a woody perennial plant. Trees in general that take more than two years to mature and produce fruit are considered woody perennials.

An apple tree is a classic example.An example of a monocarpic perennial is the agave. These take years to grow, but when they finally flower and produce seed, they die. It is not the flowering that kills them but the chemical changes that they undergo after producing seed.Plants that take more than two years to flower and reproduce while shedding their leaves in the fall are deciduous perennials.

A classic example of a deciduous perennial is the goldenrod plant. These plants with their glowing yellow flowers take years to reach full maturity. During the winter months they consist of naked stems after shedding their flowers and leaves.Evergreen perennials are those that keep their leaves in the winter. A popular houseplant that is an evergreen perennial is the begonia.

These flowering plants take more than two years to reproduce. They maintain their leaves throughout the winter months.

Summary of Perennials

Perennial plants are those that require more than two years to complete their life cycle and reproduce. There are five types of perennials including evergreen, deciduous, monocarpic, woody, and herbaceous. You are probably not far from a perennial right now!

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