Herbaceous plant

Herbaceous plants in botany, frequently shortened to herbs, are vascular plants that have no persistent woody stems above ground.[1] Herb has other meanings in cooking, medicine, and other fields.[2] Herbaceous plants are those plants that do not have woody stems,[3] they include many perennials, and nearly all annuals and biennials,[4] they include both forbs and graminoids.

Herbaceous plants most often are low growing plants, relative to woody plants like trees, and tend to have soft green stems that lack lignification and their above-ground growth is ephemeral and often seasonal in duration.[5]

Trientalis borealis 1177
Trientalis latifolia (Broadleaf Starflower) is a perennial herbaceous plant of the ground layer of forests in western North America.

Types of herbaceous plants

Herbaceous plants are non-woody vascular plants, which in plant sciences are called herbs, they include grasses and grass like plants grouped together as graminoids, forbs, and ferns.[6] Forbs are generally defined as herbaceous broad leafed plants,[7] while graminoids are plants with grass-like appearance including the true grasses, sedges, and rushes.[8][9] By contrast, non-herbaceous vascular plants are woody plants which have stems above ground that remain alive, even during any dormant season, and grow shoots the next year from the above-ground parts – these include trees, shrubs, vines and woody bamboos. Banana plants are also regarded as a herbaceous plant because the stem does not contain true woody tissue.[10]

Herbaceous plants include plants that have an annual, biennial, or perennial life cycle. Annual herbaceous plants die completely at the end of the growing season or when they have flowered and fruited, and then new plants grow from seed.[11] Herbaceous perennial and biennial plants may have stems that die at the end of the growing season, but parts of the plant survive under or close to the ground from season to season (for biennials, until the next growing season, when they flower and die). New growth develops from living tissues remaining on or under the ground, including roots, a caudex (a thickened portion of the stem at ground level) or various types of underground stems, such as bulbs, corms, stolons, rhizomes and tubers. Examples of herbaceous biennials include carrot, parsnip and common ragwort; herbaceous perennials include potato, peony, hosta, mint, most ferns and most grasses.

Habit and habitat

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, salt marsh or desert. Some habitats, like grasslands and prairies and savannas,[12] are dominated by herbaceous plants along with aquatic environments like ponds, streams and lakes.

Some herbaceous plants can grow rather large, such as the genus Musa, to which the banana belongs.[13]

The age of some herbaceous perennial plants can be determined by herbchronology, the analysis of annual growth rings in the secondary root xylem.

Herbaceous plants do not produce perennializing above ground structures using lignin, which is a complex phenolic polymer deposited in the secondary cell wall of all vascular plants. The development of lignin during vascular plant evolution provided mechanical strength, rigidity, and hydrophobicity to secondary cell walls, allowing plants to grow tall and transport water and nutrients over longer distances within the plant body. Since most woody plants are perennials with a longer life cycle because it takes more time and more resources (nutrients and water) to produce persistently living lignified woody stems, they are not as able to colonize open and dry ground as rapidly as herbs.


  1. ^ Flora of the British Isles, Clapham, Tutin, and Warburg, 2nd edition
  2. ^ Ernest Small; National Research Council Canada (2006). Culinary Herbs. NRC Research Press. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-0-660-19073-0.
  3. ^ Richard N. Arteca (14 February 2014). Introduction to Horticultural Science. Cengage Learning. pp. 584–. ISBN 978-1-111-31279-4.
  4. ^ Solomon, E.P.; Berg, L.R.; Martin, D.W. (2004). Biology. Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning. ISBN 978-0-534-49547-3.
  5. ^ Andrew J. Lack; David E. Evans (2005). Plant Biology. Garland Science. pp. 199–. ISBN 978-0-415-35643-5.
  6. ^ Kailash Chandra Bebarta (2011). Dictionary of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 224–. ISBN 978-81-8069-719-7.
  7. ^ Wilson G. Pond (16 November 2004). Encyclopedia of Animal Science (Print). CRC Press. pp. 425–. ISBN 978-0-8247-5496-9.
  8. ^ Iain J. Gordon; Herbert H.T. Prins (14 September 2007). The Ecology of Browsing and Grazing. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 220–. ISBN 978-3-540-72422-3.
  9. ^ Brian R. Chapman; Eric G. Bolen (31 August 2015). Ecology of North America. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 98–. ISBN 978-1-118-97154-3.
  10. ^ https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/explore/is-a-banana-a-fruit-or-a-herb/
  11. ^ Levine, Carol. 1995. A guide to wildflowers in winter: herbaceous plants of northeastern North America. New Haven: Yale University Press. page 1.
  12. ^ Patrick L. Osborne (31 August 2000). Tropical Ecosystems and Ecological Concepts. Cambridge University Press. pp. 50–. ISBN 978-0-521-64523-2.
  13. ^ Picq, Claudine & INIBAP, eds. (2000). Bananas (PDF) (English ed.). Montpellier: International Network for the Improvement of Banana and Plantains/International Plant Genetic Resources Institute. ISBN 978-2-910810-37-5. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved January 31, 2013.

Adoxaceae, commonly known as moschatel family, is a small family of flowering plants in the order Dipsacales, now consisting of five genera and about 150–200 species. They are characterised by opposite toothed leaves, small five- or, more rarely, four-petalled flowers in cymose inflorescences, and the fruit being a drupe. They are thus similar to many Cornaceae.

In older classifications, this entire family was part of Caprifoliaceae, the honeysuckle family. Adoxa (moschatel) was the first plant to be moved to this new group. Much later, the genera Sambucus (elders) and Viburnum were added after careful morphological analysis and biochemical tests by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. An additional monotypic genus Sinadoxa has been added based on molecular comparison with Adoxa.

Adoxa is a small perennial herbaceous plant, flowering early in the spring and dying down to ground level in summer immediately after the berries are mature; the leaves are compound.

The elders are mostly shrubs, but two species are large herbaceous plants; all have compound leaves. The viburnums are all shrubs, with simple leaves.

Astragalus glycyphyllos

Astragalus glycyphyllos (liquorice milkvetch, wild liquorice, wild licorice) is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to Europe. It is a perennial herbaceous plant which is sometimes used for tea.

Boesenbergia rotunda

Boesenbergia rotunda, commonly known as Chinese keys, fingerroot, lesser galangal or Chinese ginger, is a medicinal and culinary herb from China and Southeast Asia. In English, the root has traditionally been called fingerroot, because the shape of the rhizome resembles that of fingers growing out of a center piece.

Fingerroot is a kind of ginger (Zingiberaceae). It is an annual crop and indigenous to southern Yunnan Province, China, to west Malaysia, growing in tropical rain forest. It has an underground trunk, known as a rhizome. This spreads into many bunches in the same way as ginger, galangal and turmeric. These structures accumulate nutrients and the middle part is more swollen than the head and bottom part. The inner part has a range of colours and aromas depending on the variety of fingerroot. The above-ground part is composed of a leaf stalk that has a sheath covering it. The leaf sheaths are red, the blades are oval in shape and the apex of leaves are sharp. Chinese ginger is a herbaceous plant with a height of 2–3 feet. The leaf is about 50 cm long and 12 cm wide. The middle of the petioles are deeply grooved. The flower appears between the leaf sheaths at the bottom of the trunk. The petals are white or light pink. Flowers bloom one at a time.

Capsella (plant)

Capsella is a genus of herbaceous plant and biennial plants in the mustard family Brassicaceae. It is a close relative of Arabidopsis, Neslia, and Halimolobos.Some recent authors circumscribe Capsella to contain only three species: Capsella bursa-pastoris, Capsella rubella and Capsella grandiflora.Capsella rubella is a self-fertilizing species that became self-compatible 50,000 to 100,000 years ago. Its outcrossing progenitor was Capsella grandiflora. In general, the shift from outcrossing to self-fertilization is among the most common transitions in flowering plants. Capsella rubella is studied as a model for understanding the evolution of self-fertilization.

Cucurbita argyrosperma

Cucurbita argyrosperma, also the Japanese pie pumpkin or cushaw pumpkin, and silver-seed gourd, is a species of winter squash originally from the south of Mexico. This annual herbaceous plant is cultivated in the Americas for its nutritional value: its flowers, shoots, and fruits are all harvested, but it is cultivated most of all for its seeds, which are used for sauces. It was formerly known as Cucurbita mixta.It is a Cucurbita species, with pumpkin varieties that are commonly cultivated in the United States as part of the Eastern Agricultural Complex and Mexico south to Nicaragua. Of all the cultivated Cucurbita species it is the least found outside the Americas. It originated in Mesoamerica and its wild ancestor is Cucurbita sororia. It is also closely related to Cucurbita kellyana and Cucurbita palmeri.

Dusky large blue

The dusky large blue (Phengaris nausithous) is a species of butterfly in the family Lycaenidae. It is found in Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and Ukraine. The life cycle of this species is strongly related to the herbaceous plant Sanguisorba officinalis (great burnet).


In botany and ecology, graminoid refers to a herbaceous plant with a grass-like morphology, i.e. elongated culms with long, blade-like leaves. They are contrasted to forbs, herbaceous plants without grass-like features.

The plants most often referred to include the families Poaceae (grasses in the strict sense), Cyperaceae (sedges), and Juncaceae (rushes). These are not closely related but belong to different clades in the order Poales. The grasses (Poaceae) are by far the largest family with some 12,000 species.

Besides their similar morphology, graminoids share the widespread occurrence and often dominance in open habitats such as grasslands or marshes. They can however also be found in the understory of forests. Sedges and rushes tend to prefer wetter habitats than grasses.

Graminoid plants


In general use, herbs are plants with savory or aromatic properties that are used for flavoring and garnishing food, medicinal purposes, or for fragrances; excluding vegetables and other plants consumed for macronutrients. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs generally refers to the leafy green or flowering parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while spices are usually dried and produced from other parts of the plant, including seeds, bark, roots and fruits.

Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal, and in some cases, spiritual. General usage of the term "herb" differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs; in medicinal or spiritual use, any parts of the plant might be considered as "herbs", including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, root bark, inner bark (and cambium), resin and pericarp.

The word "herb" is pronounced in Commonwealth English, but is common among North American English speakers and those from other regions where h-dropping occurs. In botany, the word "herb" is used as a synonym for "herbaceous plant".

Hyssopus officinalis

Hyssopus officinalis or hyssop is a herbaceous plant of the genus Hyssopus (belonging to the Lamiaceae, or mint family), native to Southern Europe, the Middle East, and the region surrounding the Caspian Sea. Due to its properties as an antiseptic, cough reliever, and expectorant, it is commonly used as a medicinal plant.

Lepidium virginicum

Lepidium virginicum, also known as least pepperwort or Virginia pepperweed, is an herbaceous plant in the mustard family (Brassicaceae). It is native to much of North America, including most of the United States and Mexico and southern regions of Canada, as well as most of Central America. It can be found elsewhere as an introduced species.

Virginia pepperweed grows as a weed in most crops and is found in roadsides, landscapes and waste areas. It prefers sunny locales with dry soil.

Melampyrum lineare

Melampyrum lineare, commonly called the narrowleaf cow wheat, is an herbaceous plant in the family Orobanchaceae. It is native to North America, where it is found in southern Canada and the northern United States, with an extension south in the Appalachian Mountains. It has a wide habitat tolerance, but is usually found in drier and somewhat exposed woodlands.This species is hemiparasitic, meaning it receives energy from both photosynthesis and root parasitism. It is an herbaceous plant that grows in clumps about a 12 inches high. Its leaves are opposite and lanceolate to linear. It produces tubular cream-colored flowers in the summer.

Orchis purpurea

Orchis purpurea, the lady orchid, is a herbaceous plant belonging to the genus Orchis of the family Orchidaceae.

Petunia axillaris

Petunia axillaris, the large white petunia, wild white petunia or white moon petunia, is an annual herbaceous plant in the family Solanaceae, genus Petunia, that is native to South America.

Polygala lutea

Polygala lutea, commonly known as orange- or yellow milkwort, is a herbaceous plant native to the United States.

Sanguisorba minor

Sanguisorba minor, the salad burnet, garden burnet, small burnet, or burnet, is a plant in the family Rosaceae that is native to western, central and southern Europe; northwest Africa and southwest Western Asia; and which has naturalized in most of North America. It is a perennial herbaceous plant growing to 40–90 cm tall, typically found in dry grassy meadows, often on limestone soils. It is drought-tolerant, and grows all year around.

It is used as an ingredient in both salads and dressings, having a flavor described as "light cucumber" and is considered interchangeable with mint leaves in some recipes, depending on the intended effect. Typically, the youngest leaves are used, as they tend to become bitter as they age.

Salad burnet has the same medicinal qualities as medicinal burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis). It was used as a tea to relieve diarrhea in the past.

It also has a respectable history, called a favorite herb by Francis Bacon, and was brought to the New World with the first English colonists, even getting special mention by Thomas Jefferson.

Scleranthus perennis

Scleranthus perennis, the perennial knawel, is a perennial herbaceous plant of the carnation family. It grows on sandy, dry, acidic soils. It can grow up to 15 cm high and has white flowers of 2–5 mm. The plant used to be economically significant as the major host plant of the Polish cochineal.

Scrophularia nodosa

Scrophularia nodosa (also called figwort, woodland figwort, and common figwort) is a perennial herbaceous plant found in temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere except western North America. It grows in moist and cultivated waste ground.

Sidestrand and Trimingham Cliffs

Sidestrand and Trimingham Cliffs is a 133.9-hectare (331-acre) biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest south-east of Cromer in Norfolk. It is a Geological Conservation Review site. It is in the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.This crumbling cliff exposes both Pleistocene sediments and a rich assembly of invertebrate fossils dating to the late Cretaceous. It also has several rare beetles and the Red Data Book parasitic herbaceous plant purple broomrape.The beach is open to the public.

Typha orientalis

Typha orientalis, commonly known as bulrush, bullrush, cumbungi in Australia, or raupō in New Zealand, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the genus Typha. It can be found in Australia (all 6 states plus Northern Territory and Norfolk Island), New Zealand including the Chatham Islands and the Kermadec Islands), Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, China and the Russian Far East (Sakhalin and Primorye).T. orientalis is a wetland plant that grows on the edges of ponds, lakes and slow flowing rivers and streams.

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