AskDefine | Define perennial

Dictionary Definition

perennial adj
1 lasting three seasons or more; "the common buttercup is a popular perennial plant" [ant: annual, biennial]
2 lasting an indefinitely long time; suggesting self-renewal; "perennial happiness"
3 recurring again and again; "perennial efforts to stipulate the requirements" [syn: recurrent, repeated] n : a plant lasting for three seasons or more

User Contributed Dictionary



From perennis.


  • /pəˈɹɛniəl/, /p@"rEni@l/


  1. Active throughout the year, or all the time.
  2. Living for many years.



  1. Shortening of perennial plant; A plant that is active throughout the year.

Extensive Definition

A perennial plant or perennial (Latin per, "through", annus, "year") is a plant that lives for more than two years. When used as a noun, this term applies specifically to herbaceous plants, even though woody plants like shrubs and trees are also perennial in their habit.
Perennials, especially small flowering plants, grow and bloom over the spring and summer and then die back every autumn and winter, then return in the spring from their root-stock rather than seeding themselves as an annual plant does. These are known as herbaceous perennials. However, depending on the rigors of local climate, a plant that is a perennial in its native habitat, or in a milder garden, may be treated by a gardener as an annual and planted out every year, from seed, from cuttings or from divisions.
Perennial plants can be short-lived (only a few years) or they can be long-lived, as some woody plants, such as trees, have been living for over 3,000 years. They can vary in size from only a few millimeters to over 100 meters tall. They include a wide assortment of plant groups from ferns and liverworts to the highly diverse flowering plants like Orchids and Grasses.
Perennials that flower and fruit only once and then die are termed monocarpic or semelparous. However, most perennials are polycarpic, flowering over many seasons in their lifetime.
Perennials typically grow structures that allow them to adapt to living from one year to the next. These structures include bulbs, tubers, woody crowns, rhizomes plus others. They might have specialized stems or crowns that allow them to survive periods of dormancy over cold or dry seasons during the year. Annuals produce seeds to continue the species as a new generation while the growing season is suitable, and the seeds survive over the cold or dry period to begin growth when the conditions are again suitable. Many perennials, in contrast, have specialized to survive under extreme environmental conditions: some have adapted to survive hot dry conditions, or to survive under cold temperatures. Those plants tend to invest a lot of resource into their adaptations and often do not flower and set seed until after a few years of growth. Many perennials produce relatively large seeds, which can have an advantage, with larger seedlings produced after germination that can better compete with other plants or more quickly develop leaves for photosynthesis. Annuals tend to produce many more seeds per plant since they will die at the end of the growing season, while perennials are not under the same pressure to produce large numbers of seeds but can produce seeds over many years.
In warmer and more favorable climates, perennials grow continuously. In seasonal climates, their growth is limited to the growing season. For example, in temperate regions a perennial plant may grow and bloom during the warm part of the year, with the foliage dying back in the winter. These plants are deciduous perennials. Regrowth is from existing stem tissue. In many parts of the world, seasonality is expressed as wet and dry periods rather than warm and cold periods. In some species, perennials retain their foliage all year round; these are evergreen perennials.
With their roots protected below ground in the soil layer, perennial plants are notably tolerant of wildfire. They are also less subject to extremes of cold in temperate and Arctic winters, with less sensitivity than trees or shrubs.
Perennial plants dominate many natural ecosystems on land and in fresh water, with only a very few (e.g. Zostera) occurring in shallow sea water. They are particularly dominant in conditions too fire-prone for trees and shrubs, e.g., most plants on prairies and steppes are perennials; they are also dominant on tundra too cold for tree growth. In forests, perennial plants are of secondary importance to trees and shrubs, but are often still abundant on the forest floor.
Perennial plants are usually better competitors than annual plants, especially under stable, resource-poor conditions. This is due to the development of larger root systems which can access water and soil nutrients deeper in the soil and to earlier emergence in the spring.
Examples of evergreen perennials include Begonia and banana.
Examples of deciduous perennials include goldenrod and mint.
Examples of monocarpic perennials include Agave and some species of Streptocarpus.
perennial in Arabic: ذات الحولين
perennial in Catalan: Perenne
perennial in Czech: Trvalka
perennial in Danish: Staude
perennial in German: Staude
perennial in Spanish: Planta perenne
perennial in Esperanto: Staŭdo
perennial in French: Plante vivace
perennial in Galician: Perenne
perennial in Icelandic: Fjölær jurt
perennial in Italian: Pianta perenne
perennial in Hebrew: בוטניקה - מונחים#.D7.A6.D7.95.D7.A8.D7.95.D7.AA_.D7.97.D7.99.D7.99.D7.9D_.D7.A9.D7.9C_.D7.A6.D7.9E.D7.97.D7.99.D7.9D
perennial in Hungarian: Évelő növény
perennial in Dutch: Vaste plant
perennial in Japanese: 多年生植物
perennial in Norwegian: Staude
perennial in Polish: Roślina wieloletnia
perennial in Portuguese: Planta perene
perennial in Russian: Многолетние растения
perennial in Simple English: Perennial
perennial in Finnish: Monivuotinen kasvi
perennial in Swedish: Perenner
perennial in Tamil: பல்லாண்டுத் தாவரம்
perennial in Ukrainian: Багаторічні рослини
perennial in Chinese: 多年生植物

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abiding, age-long, aged, amphibian, ancient, angiosperm, annual, antique, aquatic plant, articulated, biennial, catenated, ceaseless, chattering, chronic, concatenated, connected, constant, continual, continued, continuing, continuous, cosmopolite, cutting, cyclical, deciduous, deciduous plant, dicot, dicotyledon, direct, diuturnal, durable, endless, enduring, ephemeral, eternal, ever-blooming, ever-new, evergreen, everlasting, exotic, featureless, flowering plant, fungus, gametophyte, gapless, gymnosperm, half-hardy, hardy, hydrophyte, immediate, immortal, immutable, imperishable, incessant, indeciduous, interminable, intransient, inveterate, joined, jointless, lasting, lifelong, linked, long-lasting, long-lived, long-standing, long-term, longeval, longevous, machine gun, macrobiotic, monocot, monocotyl, monotonous, never-ending, never-failing, nonstop, of long duration, of long standing, old, oscillating, perdurable, perduring, periodic, permanent, perpetual, persistent, persisting, plant, polycot, polycotyl, polycotyledon, pulsating, rapid, recurrent, regular, remaining, repeated, repetitive, round-the-clock, running, seamless, seed plant, seedling, sempervirent, sempiternal, serried, smooth, spermatophyte, sporophyte, stable, staccato, staying, steadfast, steady, straight, stuttering, sustained, thallophyte, timeless, tough, triennial, twenty-four-hour, unbroken, unceasing, unchanging, undifferentiated, undying, unending, unfading, unfailing, uniform, unintermitted, unintermittent, unintermitting, uninterrupted, unrelieved, unremitting, unstopped, unvarying, vascular plant, vegetable, vibrating, vital, weed
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