Herbaceous plant

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Salvia lyrata, a herbaceous plant

A herbaceous plant (or in botanical use, a herb) is a plant that has leaves and stems that die at the end of the growing season to the soil level. A herbaceous plant may be annual, biennial or perennial.

Annual herbaceous plants die completely after flowering and seeding, growing again from seed.

Herbaceous perennial and biennial herbaceous plants have stems that die at the end of the growing season, but underground parts of the plant survive from season to season (or for biennials, for just one further season). New growth forms from the roots or from underground stems or from crown tissue at the surface of the ground. Examples include bulbs, peony, Hosta and most grasses. By contrast, non-herbaceous perennial plants are woody plants 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 trees, shrubs and vines.

Some relatively fast-growing herbaceous plants (especially annuals) are pioneers, or early-successional species. Others form the main vegetation of many stable habitats, occurring for example in the ground layer of forests, or in naturally open habitats such as meadow, saltmarsh or desert.

See also