Difference Between Annual and Perennial Plants

The main difference between annual and perennial plants is that the annual plants live for one growing season whereas perennial plants live for two or more growing seasons.

Annual or perennial plants are two types of plants with variable lifespans. Annual plants complete their life cycle from seed to flower to seed within a single growing season. Hence, the seed bridges the gap between two generations. The top portions of some perennial plants die in the winter and regrow in the spring, using the same root system. Other perennial plants keep their leaves throughout the year.

Key Areas Covered

1. What are Annual Plants
      – Definition, Fats, Examples
2. What are Perennial Plants
     – Definition, Facts, Examples
3. What are the Similarities Between Annual and Perennial Plants
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Annual and Perennial Plants
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Annual plants, Blooming, Growth Season, Perennial Plants, Seeds

Difference Between Annual and Perennial Plants - Comparison Summary

What are Annual Plants

Annual plants refer to plants that complete their life cycle from germination to the production of a seed within one year and then die. The main purpose of an annual plant is to produce seeds, ensuring the propagation of the future generations. Therefore, most annual plants produce colorful and showy flowers to attract insects for pollination. Corn, wheat, rice, beans, peas, lettuce, watermelon, cucumbers, basil, cilantro, etc. are some examples of annual plants. Zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos, petunias, marigolds, and bachelor’s button are some annual plants used in horticulture.

Difference Between Annual and Perennial Plants

Figure 1: Lettuce

What are Perennial Plants

Perennial plants refer to plants that live more than two years. Generally, trees and shrubs are perennial, and they retain their foliage throughout the year. However, herbaceous perennials include flowering plants whose top portion die during fall. But, the dormant root structures remain as they are. When spring comes, leaves and stalks grow, initiating a new growth cycle. Apple, banana, grape, strawberry, plump, and pineapple are perennial fruits. Lavender, mint, rosemary, garlic, and ginger are perennial herbs. Coneflowers, dahlia, Veronica, blanket flowers, and clematis are perennial flowering plants. 

Main Difference - Annual and Perennial Plants

Figure 2: Dahlia

Similarities Between Annual and Perennial Plants

  • Both annual and perennial plants can be flowering plants.
  • Both may produce seeds.

Difference Between Annual and Perennial Plants

Definition

Annual Plants: Plants with a life cycle that lasts only one year

Perennial Plants: Plants that live more than two years

Significance

Annual Plants: Live for one growing season

Perennial Plants: Regrow every spring

Parts

Annual Plants: The whole plant dies annually

Perennial Plants: Only the top portion dies annually

Characteristics

Annual Plants: Rapid growth, rapid transition to flower, and rapid formation of seeds

Perennial Plants: Can survive in harsh conditions

Reproductive Structures

Annual Plants: Mostly seeds

Perennial Plants: Seeds and bulbils

Blooming

Annual Plants: Bloom all season long

Perennial Plants: Bloom from the spring or summer of the second year

Flowers

Annual Plants: Bright and showy flowers

Perennial Plants: Less showy flowers

Conclusion

Annual plants complete their life cycle within a single growing season. But, perennial plants live for two or more growing seasons. On that account, annual plants spend their energy mainly for reproduction. However, perennial plants build structures such as bulbils. The main difference between annual and perennial plants is the time taken to complete their life cycle.

Reference:

1. IANNOTTI, MARIE. “What Is an Annual Plant?” The Spruce, .
2. Grant, Amy. “Perennial Garden Plants: What Is A Perennial.” Gardening, .

Image Courtesy:

1.”568041″ (CC0) via
2. “RIMG0163uf” By Vulkan Uwe H. Friese, Bremerhaven – Own work via

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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