Herbaceous Plants: Examples & Types

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  • 0:01 Herbaceous Plant Definition
  • 0:27 Differences in…
  • 1:08 Types of Herbaceous Plants
  • 2:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brekke Peterson Munks
Did you know that a plant is not just a plant? There are specific categories of plants that are based on their general structure. In this lesson, you will learn how to identify a herbaceous plant and be provided with examples that you can find in the real world!

Herbaceous Plant Definition

What is the difference between these two plant photos? The peony and the tree are both plants, but the peony is an herbaceous plant. An herbaceous plant is an annual, biennial or perennial plant with leaves and a stem. Herbaceous plants die back every year when the weather gets cold. Herbaceous plants do not have a woody stem that stays above the ground when the leaves are gone.

What is the difference between these plants?

Differences in Herbaceous and Woody Plants

The main and obvious difference between herbaceous and woody plants is the make-up of the stem. If you were to go grab a twig and firmly pinch it between your fingers, little happens. This is because the stem is made of a component called lignin, which provides a solid, rigid structure that prevents damage. This component is also slow to decompose and lasts for years.

If you were to pinch a peony between your fingers, the stem will crush, killing anything above the pinched area. This is because herbaceous plants are made mainly of a component called cellulose. Cellulose is strong but not as rigid at lignin, and it can decompose quickly.

Types of Herbaceous Plants

Herbaceous plants fall into three main categories: annual, biennial or perennial. These categories are determined by the time the plant is alive.

An annual is an herbaceous plant that has a whole life cycle in one growing season. This means that the plant germinates from a seed, grows to maturity, flowers, creates seed, and dies back within a year. Annual herbaceous plants need to be seeded every year.

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