Monday, January 6, 2014

Herbal Anatomy -- winter blog series

I always choose something to do in the winter months that will take me to a deeper level of understanding of the plants I grow and love.  This year it is an exploration of plant  (herb) anatomy.  Over the next few weeks I will explore the parts of the plants the various descriptions of the parts and the uses of those parts.

I am going to begin with plant nature, like perennial vs. annual; then talk about roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruit. I will include as many images as I can so when Spring comes you can go out and investigate your garden in a whole new way!

ANNUAL PLANTS spring from the seed, make their full growth and then die at the end of the growing season.  Many well know herbs are annual, like dill, cilantro and basil.

A BIENNIAL PLANT does not flower the first year, but produces leaves only. The second year of its growth it flowers, after which it dies. The carrot and parley are examples of biennials.  Many biennials are grown as annuals in the herb kingdom because the leaves are more important than the seed it will produce the second year.

A PERENNIAL PLANT lives for more than two years. If the plant retains its leaves during the winter, it is known as an EVERGREEN; if the leaves fall upon the approach of cold weather, it is said to be DECIDUOUS. Many herbs like sage, common thyme, tarragon and mints a,mong others are all perennial.
Lemon Verbena a Deciduous Tender Perennial
TENDER PERENNIAL - this is a perennial plant that cannot withstand most Zone 5 conditions, it will die if winder temps get below 10 to 0 degrees F.  These plants can be treated as annuals or brought indoors for winter.  Rosemary and Lemon verbena are both tender. 

AN HERB is a plant having a soft stem which dies down to the ground after the plant has reached it full growth.  This is the botanical definition.  The Herb Society definition is any plant beneficial to humankind through culinary or medicinal means (which includes, shrubs, trees and herbaceous plants.)

A SHRUB is a plant which has a woody stem, grows to a height of twenty-five to thirty feet or less, and branches near the ground. Sage is a shrub as is winter savory.

Burr Oak - Morton Arboretum
 TREE has a woody stem, is higher than a shrub and does NOT branch near the ground.

 STOLON is a form of a branch which curves or falls down to the ground, where they often produce roots.  Mint does this as it can propagate from root, seed and branch (that is why it tends to be invasive.)

A CLIMBING PLANT is any plant using an external support to raise itself above the ground. The term “vine” is used for certain climbing plants. Hops which is also an annual and passion flower are great vining herbs.

A PROSTRATE PLANT  – a plant growing flat on the soil surface with little or no upward growth.  There is a genus of Rosemary an, Corsican Mint and several thyme varieties which all are considered prostrate.

  SUCKER is a branch of subterraneous origin, which, after running horizontally and emitting roots in its course, at length rises out of  the ground and forms an erect stem, which soon becomes an independent plant.  Examples are roses, raspberries, mints.

A RUNNER is a prostrate, slender branch sent off from the base of the parent stem.

An OFFSET is a similar but shorter branch, with a tuft of leaves at the end, as in the house-leek or hen and chicks.

A SPINE  is a short and imperfectly developed branch of a woody plant, as exhibited in the honey-locust.

A TENDRIL is commonly a slender leafless branch, capable of coiling spirally, like grapevines.

INDETERMINATE GROWTH is the term used to refer to branches and leaves growing for an undetermined length of time to be stopped only by other factors such as frost.  Most herbs are described as indeterminate because the growing season end varies by the time of the first frost in the fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...