General life cycle of a plant

Written by ticara gailliard
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General life cycle of a plant
Plant life cycles involve seeding. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Plants, like animals, have a life cycle. The cycle depends on whether it is an annual plant, a biennial plant or perennial plant. The life cycle of each, however, has four phases in common: Seed, vegetative growth, flower and death.

Seed and Vegetative Growth

Plants begin life as a seed, the result of a properly fertilised egg. The seeds become embedded in an environment conducive to growth, such as soil. After it receives moisture, the seed germinates and sprouts. Its vegetative growth phase takes it to maturity.

Reproductive Period

Mature plants produce flowers that feature male parts, female parts or both. The male part, known as a pistil, produces pollen. The female part, or stamen, accepts the pollen, which then travels down to the plant's embryo. The embryo forms a zygote, then acquires a seed coat.

Seed Distribution

Once the seed is fully developed, it must be carried away from the plant so that it can be implanted. Plants distribute their seeds with the help of animals or the wind. This keeps plants from having too much competition in one area. As or following the release of seeds, death occurs.


The length of time between seed germination and the death of the plant depends on the classification of the plant. Plants that seed for one season and die are known as annuals, while those that take two years are biennials. If a plant lives for over two years, it is classified as a perennial. Biennials and perennials both have periods of dormancy.

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