Reproduction in plants can be either sexual or asexual. The pollination of flowers and the subsequent production of fruit and seeds is a method of sexual reproduction with which most of us are familiar. Sexual reproduction allows for more genetic variability since it combines the genetic code from two different plants. Asexual reproduction results in the new plant having the identical genetic code as the parent plant. Some familiar garden plants use forms of asexual reproduction.
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Potatoes are one example of a plant that uses asexual reproduction. If you look at a potato tuber, which is the part that you eat, you can see little buds, or eyes. Each of these little buds can grow into a new potato plant. Tubers form from special stems that grow into the ground. These stems fill with starch, providing food for us, or if planted, for the future potato plant. If you have ever left a potato in a cupboard for too long you have probably noticed the eyes starting to grow.
Strawberry plants are good examples of plants that reproduce by using runners, or stolons. These plants send out stems that grow along the ground that don't have many, if any, leaves. These stems grow small nodes instead, which send new roots down into the soil. New shoots appear and a new strawberry plant connected to the parent plant is born. Strawberry plants also reproduce sexually by producing flowers, followed by the red strawberry fruits and seeds.
Bulbs and Corms
These two types of asexual production are similar in method. Onions and lilies form bulbs that lie dormant over the winter. Nutrients are stored in special, swollen leaves that surround a single, short stem. As the surrounding soil warms in the spring, the stem starts to grow, using the stored nutrients. In onions, the bulb is what we eat. Corms are similar structures, but they do not have any storage leaves. The swollen stems hold the nutrients, surrounded by papery leaves, similar to an onion skin. Crocus plants use corms to reproduce.
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