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What Is the Meaning of Perennial Plants?

Table of Contents

  • Types of Perennial Plants
  • Characteristics
  • Advantages
  • A perennial plant, simply referred to as perennials, are plants that live for more than two years. They are longer living than the other two types, annuals and biennials. Trees, shrubs, and plants that do not show woody growths are perennial plants.

    Types of Perennial Plants

    1. Herbaceous Perennials: Small flowering plants that bloom in the seasons of spring and summer, die in autumn and winter and then return in the spring season from their rootstocks are known as herbaceous perennials. Examples: Alfalfa, Red clover.
    2. Evergreen Perennials: The plants which lack a woody stem but have a persistent foliage throughout the year are known as evergreen perennials. Examples: banana, Begonia
    3. Woody Perennials: The plants that survive through consecutive growing years with a persistent woody stem (primary or secondary growth) are known as woody perennials. Examples: maple, pine and apple.


    • Perennials include a wide range of plants ranging from non-flowering plants such as liverworts and ferns to flowering plants such as orchids, grasses and woody plants.
    • Perennials that live for many years before flowering, then flower and fruit once and die are known as semelparous or monocarpic plants. Example: Century plant — it can live for upto 80 years before flowering and dying.
    • The plants that flower for many seasons before dying are known as polycarpic or iteroparous plants.
    • Perennials survive longer than annuals because they invest more resources in developing their roots and crowns that help them in living through years.
    • The perennials have an upper hand because they can grow early in the season, occupy more space and become taller, thus getting more light than annuals.
    • Perennials have adaptive structures such as rhizomes, tubers and bulbs. These structures store carbohydrate which allows the plant to survive dormancy.
    • Perennial plants tend to undergo dormancy when the conditions are not favourable, they recommence growth once suitable conditions are restored.


    Though annuals are re-sown every year to obtain the annual grain crops, perennial plants also show some advantages. They have an extensive root system that prevents soil erosion, outlives weeds and absorb dissolved oxygen before it gets contaminated with surface or groundwater.

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