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Part XVIII: Energy and Activity : How Plants
Survive in Winter Index

How Plants Survive Winter : Introduction
Seeds and the Conditions Needed for Seed Germination
Trees in Winter
Chapter Summary (useful for revision)
Questions relating to this chapter

Topic Chapters Index

 

Tulips, Palais Royale, Paris © Shirley Burchill

Tulip plants, Palais Royale, Paris

 

Perennial plants

Plants which show new growth above ground year after year are called perennial plants. The part of the plant above ground dies over the winter months, while underground storage organs assure the survival of that plant for the following spring. A bulb is an example of an underground storage organ.

A narcissus bulb © Paul Billiet

TS through an onion bulb © Deborah James

A narcissus bulb TS through an onion bulb

 

Potatoes are swollen underground stems © Paul Billiet,

Carrots are swollen tap roots © Paul Billiet

A potato plant

A carrot plant

Some plants produce storage organs the first year of their lives and then produce flowers and seeds the second year, such as the carrot. These plants are called biennial plants.

ENERGY AND ACTIVITY

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Underground Storage Organs

Some plants form storage organs underground to survive through winter. The organs will grow shoots, leaves and flowers in the spring.

The storage organs can be in the form of tubers (e.g. potatoes), rhizomes (e.g. irises and ferns), bulbs (e.g. daffodils and tulips) or corms (e.g. crocuses).

The formation of these organs is carefully controlled. Potato plants originally came from high up in the Andes mountains of South America. In the mountains winter can be very cold. Potato plants will start to store food in tubers underground as soon as the air temperature falls below 20'C. They also start to store food in their tubers when the days become shorter. In spring as the soil temperature warms the tuber begins to sprout. New shoots and leaves will grow above the soil.

 

Daffodils, Bristol, UK © Shirley Burchill

Daffodils, Bristol, UK

 

Crocuses, Bristol, UK © Shirley Burchill

Crocuses, Bristol, UK

 

 

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