Vegetative reproduction is a type of asexual reproduction found in plants, and is also called vegetative propagation or vegetative multiplication. It is a process by which new plant "individuals" arise or are obtained without production of seeds or spores. It is both a natural process in many plant species (as well as non-plant organisms such as bacteria and fungi) and one utilized or encouraged by horticulturists to obtain quantities of economically valuable plants.
Natural vegetative reproduction is mostly a process found in herbaceous and woody perennial plants, and typically involves structural modifications of the stem, although any horizontal, underground part of a plant (whether stem or a root) can contribute to vegetative reproduction of a plant. And, in a few species (such as Kalanchoë shown at right), leaves are involved in vegetative reproduction. Most plant species that survive and significantly expand by vegetative reproduction would be perennial almost by definition, since specialized organs of vegetative reproduction, like seeds of annuals, serve to survive seasonally harsh conditions. A plant that persists in a location through vegetative reproduction of individuals over a long period of time constitutes a clonal colony.
In a sense, this process is not one of "reproduction" but one of survival and expansion of biomass of the individual. When an individual organism increases in size via cell multiplication and remains intact, the process is called "vegetative growth". However, in vegetative reproduction, the new plants that result are new individuals in almost every respect except genetic. And of considerable interest is how this process appears to reset the aging clock.
Adventitious buds form on roots near the ground surface, on damaged stems (as on the stumps of cut trees), or on old roots. These develop into above-ground stems and leaves.
A form of budding called suckering is the reproduction or regeneration of a plant by shoots that arise from an existing root system. Species that characteristically produce suckers include Elm (Ulmus), Dandelion (Taraxacum), and members of the Rose Family (Rosa).
Grafting is often not a complete cloning method because sexual seedlings are used as rootstocks. In that case only the top of the plant is clonal. In some crops, particularly apples, the rootstocks are vegetatively propagated so the entire graft can be clonal if the scion and rootstock are both clones.
Apomixis is a type of sexual reproduction involving unfertilized seeds. Hawkweed (Hieracium), dandelion (Taraxacum), some Citrus (Citrus) and Kentucky blue grass (Poa pratensis) all use this form of asexual reproduction. Bulbils are sometimes formed in the flowers of garlic. The leafy crown of a pineapple fruit will root to form a new plant. These cases would not be vegetative reproduction because normally reproductive parts were involved. They would be considered asexual reproduction however. Vegetative reproduction involves only vegetative structures, i.e. roots, stems or leaves.
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