Herbaceous plants don’t have hard, woody stems and their buds don’t survive winter above ground. Woody plants, in contrast, survive the winter above ground and they include many species of trees, shrubs, and vines. The wood in their stems is made of secondary xylem (plant vascular tissue that grows in rings) and is often covered with bark. That woody plants survive year to year and continue to grow makes them the tallest and largest types of plants on Earth.

Types of Herbaceous Plants

Herbaceous plants are also known as herbs. Whether they are perennial, annual, or biennial depends partially on the zone they are grown in based on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. It all depends on whether the plant can survive frost and frigid winter temperatures. For example, basil is a perennial in USDA hardiness zones 10 and above where frost is rare. It’s an annual in zones below 10 where frost and colder temperatures are more common. Therefore, the list of annual plants below is based on USDA hardiness zones 10 and below.

Perennial Herbaceous Plants

Perennial herbs have roots that survive winter below the ground and allow the plants to regrow in the spring. Some examples of perennial herbaceous plants are columbine, daisies, delphiniums, mums, peonies, salvia, potatoes, hostas, mint, catnip, tarragon, ferns, and most grasses.

Annual Herbaceous Plants

Annual herbaceous plants die in winter or after they have produced flowers and fruit, so they must be replanted each year. Examples of these are basil, winter savory, dill, marjoram, fennel, German chamomile, chervil, and cilantro.

Biennial Herbaceous Plants

Biennial herbs are like perennials in that their parts that grow below ground survive the winter, but they flower and die in their second year. Examples of these are carrots, stevia, spinach, lettuce, sage, parsley, parsnips, Black-Eyed Susan, ragwort, and onions. The underground parts of perennial and biennial herbs that live through winter include bulbs, corms, stolons, rhizomes, and tubers.


  • Herbaceous Plant. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 29, 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbaceous_plant
  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. (n.d.). United States Department of Agriculture Research Service. Retrieved from http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/