Last updated: June 14, 2021

What Does Herbaceous Mean?

Herbaceous plants are non-woody plants in which the top growth dies back at the end of the season. Certain parts of these plants, however, tend to survive under the ground, erupting again during the next growing season.

Herbaceous plants can be annual, perennial, or biannual.


Maximum Yield Explains Herbaceous

While trees, vines, and shrubs are woody plants that retain their top growth throughout the winter and grow new shoots the following spring, herbaceous plants die back at the end of the season.

The most common examples of herbaceous perennial plants include, but are not limited to, most types of grasses and ferns, mint, hosta, potato, and peony. Examples of herbaceous biennials include ragwort, parsnip, and carrot.

Herbaceous plants are often characterized by green, succulent, and soft stems, unlike the woody, tough, and brown stems that normally define non-herbaceous plants.

With annual herbaceous plants, the entire plant dies back in autumn, while the roots and tubers of perennials, biannuals, and bulb plants stay alive during the winter months. These herbaceous plants are able to live for multiple seasons. Because they possess parts that survive below the ground, herbaceous plants can survive the winter, in spite of their fragile stems. The parts below ground are where most of the nutrients are stored during colder seasons. Herbaceous plants are also popular choices for winter landscapes.

In contrast, woody plants are able to survive above ground the entire year, as they simply enter a dormant stage during the winter months.

There are some species of herbaceous plants that are considered annuals in the colder climates, but grow as perennials in the south. These would include some members of the violet family, such as Johnny Jump Up.

Cannabis (both indica and sativa) is an herbaceous flowering plant. While all other plants in the same family are perennials, including hops, cannabis is actually an annual. This means that plants usually have a lifespan of between five and 10 months. It is suspected that cannabis was originally a perennial (albeit short lived), but environmental changes and human interference changed it into an annual.

The herbaceous nature of cannabis plants is beneficial in a number of ways. For instance, the lack of a woody stem means that the plant can be more easily trained to grow in directions other than vertical, which can have a profound effect on the harvest.


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