In plants, vivipary occurs when seeds or embryos begin to develop before they detach from the parent. Plants such as some Iridaceae and Agavoideae grow cormlets in the axils of their inflorescences. These fall and in favourable circumstances they have effectively a whole season's start over fallen seeds. Similarly, some Crassulaceae, such as Bryophyllum, develop and drop plantlets from notches in their leaves, ready to grow. Such production of embryos from somatic tissues is asexual vegetative reproduction that amounts to cloning.
Most seed-bearing fruits produce a hormone that suppresses germination until after the fruit or parent plant dies, or the seeds pass through an animal's digestive tract. At this stage, the hormone's effect will dissipate and germination will occur once conditions are suitable. Some species lack this suppressant hormone as a central part of their reproductive strategy. For example, fruits that develop in climates without large seasonal variations. This phenomenon occurs most frequently on ears of corn, tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, pears, citrus fruits, and plants that grow in mangrove environments.
In some species of mangroves, for instance, the seed germinates and grows from its own resources while still attached to its parent. Seedlings of some species are dispersed by currents if they drop into the water, but others develop a heavy, straight taproot that commonly penetrates mud when the seedling drops, thereby effectively planting the seedling. This contrasts with the examples of vegetative reproduction mentioned above, in that the mangrove plantlets are true seedlings produced by sexual reproduction.
In some trees, like jackfruit, some citrus, and avocado, the seeds can be found already germinated while the fruit goes overripe; strictly speaking this condition cannot be described as vivipary, but the moist and humid conditions provided by the fruit mimic a wet soil that encourages germination. However, the seeds also can germinate under moist soil.
In some species of cacti, such as Escobaria vivipara, seeds germinate while still inside of the fruit. When the fruit is broken open, it bears many cacti propagules. This is thought to be an adaptation to rapid photoperiod, or daylight changes, since Escobaria vivipara is one of the few cacti that naturally occurs above the frost line in Canada.
A few plants are pseudoviviparous – instead of reproducing with seeds, there are Monocot grasses that can reproduce asexually by creating new plantlets in their spikelets. Examples are seagrass species belonging to the genus Posidonia and the alpine meadow-grass, Poa alpina.
- "Vivipary: An Unusual, Unsettling, and Fascinating Phenomenon". The Seed Collection. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
- "What Is Vivipary". Gardening Know How. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
- "UCLA: The Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden". ucla.edu.
- "Escobaria vivipara". ASU Campus Arboretum. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
- Cota-Sanchez, Hugo (2002-12-01). Cacti: biology and uses.
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- Jackson, Benjamin, Daydon; A Glossary of Botanic Terms with their Derivation and Accent; Published by Gerald Duckworth & Co. London, 4th ed 1928
- Ballesteros, Enric; Cebrian, Emma; Garcia-Rubies, Antoni; Alcoverro, Teresa; Romero, Javier; Font, Xavier (2005). "Pseudovivipary, a new form of asexual reproduction in the seagrass Posidonia oceanica". Botanica Marina. 48 (2). doi:10.1515/BOT.2005.026. hdl:10261/2993. S2CID 84864719.
- Sinclair, Elizabeth A.; Statton, John; Hovey, Renae; Anthony, Janet M.; Dixon, Kingsley W.; Kendrick, Gary A. (2015). "Reproduction at the extremes: Pseudovivipary, hybridization and genetic mosaicism in Posidonia australis(Posidoniaceae)". Annals of Botany. 117 (2): 237–47. doi:10.1093/aob/mcv162. PMC 4724040. PMID 26578720.
- Simon Pierce; Clare M. Stirling; Robert Baxter. "Pseudoviviparous Reproduction of Poa alpina...During Long-term Exposure to Elevated Atmospheric CO2" (PDF).