An annual plant is a plant that completes its
life cycle Life cycle, life-cycle, or lifecycle may refer to: Science and academia *Biological life cycle, the sequence of life stages that an organism undergoes from birth to reproduction ending with the production of the offspring *Life-cycle hypothesis, ...
, from
germination seedlings, three days after germination Germination is the process by which an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell t ...

to the production of
seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was released to generally positi ...

s, within one
growing season A season is a division of the year marked by changes in weather, ecology, and the amount of daylight. The growing season is that portion of the year in which local conditions (i.e. rainfall, temperature, daylight) permit normal plant morphology#Grow ...
, and then dies. The length of growing seasons and period in which they take place vary according to geographical location, and may not correspond to the four traditional seasonal divisions of the year. With respect to the traditional seasons annual plants are generally categorized into summer annuals and winter annuals. Summer annuals germinate during spring or early summer and mature by autumn of the same year. Winter annuals germinate during the autumn and mature during the spring or summer of the following calendar year. One seed-to-seed life cycle for an annual can occur in as little as a month in some species, though most last several months.
Oilseed rapa
Oilseed rapa
can go from seed-to-seed in about five weeks under a bank of
fluorescent lamp A fluorescent lamp, or fluorescent tube, is a low-pressure mercury-vapor that uses to produce visible light. An electric current in the gas excites mercury vapor, which produces short-wave ultraviolet light that then causes a coating ...

fluorescent lamp
s. This style of growing is often used in classrooms for education. Many desert annuals are therophytes, because their seed-to-seed life cycle is only weeks and they spend most of the year as seeds to survive dry conditions. __TOC__


In cultivation, many food plants are, or are grown as, annuals, including virtually all domesticated
grain A grain is a small, hard, dry seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album ...

s. Some
perennials A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. The term (''wikt:per-#Prefix, per-'' + ''wikt:-ennial#Suffix, -ennial'', "through the years") is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annual pla ...
and biennials are grown in gardens as annuals for convenience, particularly if they are not considered
cold hardy Hardiness of plants describes their ability to survive adverse growing conditions. It is usually limited to discussions of climatic adversity. Thus a plant's ability to tolerate cold, heat, drought, flooding, or wind are typically considered measure ...
for the local climate.
Carrot The carrot (''Daucus carota'' subsp. ''sativus'') is a root vegetable, usually orange in color, though purple, black, red, white, and yellow cultivars exist. They are a domesticated form of the Daucus carota, wild carrot, ''Daucus carota'', ...

celery Celery (''Apium graveolens'') is a marshland plant in the family Apiaceae Apiaceae or Umbelliferae is a family of mostly aromatic flowering plants The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most dive ...

parsley Parsley, or garden parsley (''Petroselinum ''Petroselinum'' (parsley) is a genus of two species of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land p ...

are true biennials (divarsiya) that are usually grown as annual crops for their edible roots, petioles and leaves, respectively.
Tomato The tomato is the edible berry A berry is a small, pulpy, and often edible fruit In botany, a fruit is the seed-bearing structure in flowering plants (also known as angiosperms) formed from the ovary after flowering. Fruits are ...

sweet potato The sweet potato or sweetpotato (''Ipomoea batatas'') is a dicotyledon The dicotyledons, also known as dicots (or more rarely dicotyls), are one of the two groups into which all the flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angi ...

sweet potato
bell pepper The bell pepper (also known as sweet pepper, pepper or capsicum ) is the fruit of plants in the Grossum cultivar groupA Group (previously cultivar-groupInternational Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants, 4th edition (1969), 5th edition (1 ...

bell pepper
are tender perennials usually grown as annuals. Ornamental perennials commonly grown as annuals are
impatiens ''Impatiens'' is a genus of more than 1,000 species of flowering plants, widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere and the tropics. Together with the genus ''Hydrocera'' (one species), ''Impatiens'' make up the family (biology), fami ...

, mirabilis,
wax begonia
wax begonia
snapdragon ''Antirrhinum'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer ...

, ''
pelargonium ''Pelargonium'' is a genus of flowering plants which includes about 280 species of perennial plant, perennials, succulent plant, succulents, and shrubs, commonly known as geraniums, pelargoniums, or storksbills. ''Geranium'' is also the botanica ...

coleus ''Coleus'' is a genus of annual or perennial herbs or shrubs, sometimes succulent, sometimes with a fleshy or tuberous rootstock, found in the Old World tropics and subtropics. The relationship among the genera ''Coleus'', ''Solenostemon ''S ...

petunia ''Petunia'' is genus of 20 species of flowering plants of South American origin. The popular flower of the same name derived its epithet from the French, which took the word ''petun'', meaning "tobacco," from a Tupi–Guarani language. An Annua ...

. Examples of true annuals include
corn Maize ( ; ''Zea mays'' subsp. ''mays'', from es, maíz after tnq, mahiz), also known as corn (North American English, North American and Australian English), is a cereal grain first domesticated by indigenous peoples of the Americas, indige ...

wheat Wheat is a grass widely cultivated for its seed, a cereal grain which is a worldwide staple food. The many species of wheat together make up the genus ''Triticum''; the most widely grown is common wheat Common wheat (''Triticum aestivum'' ...

rice Rice is the seed A seed is an embryonic ''Embryonic'' is the twelfth studio album by experimental rock band the Flaming Lips released on October 13, 2009, on Warner Bros. Records, Warner Bros. The band's first double album, it was relea ...

lettuce Lettuce (''Lactuca sativa'') is an annual plant of the daisy family, Asteraceae. It is most often grown as a leaf vegetable, but sometimes for its stem and seeds. Lettuce is most often used for salads, although it is also seen in other kinds o ...

pea The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is ...

watermelon Watermelon (''Citrullus lanatus'') is a flowering plant species of the Cucurbitaceae family and the name of its edible fruit. A Glossary of botanical terms#scandent, scrambling and trailing vine-like plant, it is a plant breeding, highly cul ...

bean A bean is the seed of one of several of the , which are used as vegetables for human or animal food. They can be cooked in many different ways, including boiling, frying, and baking, and are used in many traditional dishes throughout th ...

zinnia ''Zinnia'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumsc ...



Summer annuals sprout, flower, produce seed, and die, during the warmer months of the year. The lawn weed crabgrass is a summer annual.


Winter annuals germinate in autumn or winter, live through the winter, then bloom in winter or spring. The plants grow and bloom during the cool season when most other plants are dormant or other annuals are in seed form waiting for warmer weather to germinate. Winter annuals die after flowering and setting seed. The seeds germinate in the autumn or winter when the soil temperature is cool. Winter annuals typically grow low to the ground, where they are usually sheltered from the coldest nights by snow cover, and make use of warm periods in winter for growth when the snow melts. Some common winter annuals include henbit,
deadnettle ''Lamium'' (dead-nettles) is a genus of about 40–50 species of flowering plants in the family (biology), family Lamiaceae, of which it is the type genus. They are all herbaceous plants native plant, native to Europe, Asia, and northern Africa, b ...
chickweed ''Stellaria media'', chickweed, is an annual and perennial flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae.Fernald, M. L. 1950. “Gray's Manual of Botany”. Eight Edition. American Book Company, New York, NY. 1632 pp. It is native to Eurasi ...
, and winter cress. Winter annuals are important ecologically, as they provide vegetative cover that prevents soil erosion during winter and early spring when no other cover exists and they provide fresh vegetation for animals and birds that feed on them. Although they are often considered to be weeds in gardens, this viewpoint is not always necessary, as most of them die when the soil temperature warms up again in early to late spring when other plants are still dormant and have not yet leafed out. Even though they do not compete directly with cultivated plants, sometimes winter annuals are considered a pest in commercial agriculture, because they can be hosts for insect pests or fungal diseases (ovary smut – Microbotryum sp) which attack crops being cultivated. The property that they prevent the soil from drying out can also be problematic for commercial agriculture.

Molecular genetics

In 2008, it was discovered that the inactivation of only two genes in one species of annual plant leads to the conversion into a
perennial plant A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives more than two years. The term (''wikt:per-#Prefix, per-'' + ''wikt:-ennial#Suffix, -ennial'', "through the years") is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter-lived annual p ...
. Researchers deactivated the SOC1 and FUL genes in ''
Arabidopsis thaliana ''Arabidopsis thaliana'', the thale cress, mouse-ear cress or arabidopsis, is a small flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from ...

Arabidopsis thaliana
'', which control flowering time. This switch established
phenotypes In genetics, the phenotype () is the set of observable characteristics or trait (biology) , traits of an organism. The term covers the organism's morphology (biology), morphology or physical form and structure, its Developmental biology, d ...
common in perennial plants, such as wood formation.

See also

* *


External links

{{Authority control Garden plants