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Herbaceous Plants

What are herbaceous plants? What are the distinguishing characteristics of herbs that set them apart from trees and shrubs? Let's find out...
HolisticZine Staff
Usually referred to as herbs in common parlance, herbaceous plants are plants that are typically characterized as having soft, flexible, tender stems and leaves which may or may not bear flowers. Herbs can be seasonal (annual, biennial) as well as perennial. The leaves and stems of herbs have a tendency to die out by the time the flourishing period or season comes to a conclusion. Herbs lack hard, woody stems and once they have flowered and produced seeds, they die completely. New herbs grow from these deeds in the next season and thus the cycle continues. The new plants that grow when the older ones die out extract nutrition from the remaining living tissues of the previous plant that may be present above or below the ground in any of the following forms - roots, caudex, bulbs, rhizomes, corms, tubers or stolons.
In contrast with other woody botanical categories such as trees, shrubs and vines, herbs can have stems below the ground as well. Common examples of herbs include carrots, garlic, alfalfa, mint, cannabis, sage, thyme, parsley, colic weed, Sweet William, eggplant, basil, asparagus, chicory, potato, okra, rhubarb, leek, spinach, hog nut, broccoli, parsnip, common ragwort, sweet potato, etc.
Herbaceous Plants List
The following are alphabetically sorted lists of some examples of herbs as they are scientifically known, complete with the common names that are assigned to them by gardeners and herb enthusiasts all over the world.

A

Herbs' Scientific Names Herbs' Common Names
Abelmoschus manihot Hibiscus manihot, Sunset hibiscus, Sunset muskmallow, Aibika
Abelmoschus moschatus Musk mallow
Abronia Sand verbena
Abronia umbellata Beach sand verbena
Acaena montana Alpine Burr
Acaena novae-zelandiae Bidgee-widgee, biddy biddy
Acanthus montanus Mountain thistle
Achillea Yarrow, Milfoil
Achimenes Hot water plant
Acinos alpinus Alpine calamint
Aciphylla colensoi Colenso's spaniard
Aciphylla horrida Horrid spaniard
Aconitum lycoctonum Wolfsbane
Acorus gramineus Japanese rush, Dwarf's sedge
Actaea rubra Snakeberry, Red cohosh
Actinotus helianthi Flannel flower
Adenophora liliifolia Lilyleaf ladybells
Adonis annua Pheasant's eye
Agapanthus africanus African lily, Lily of the Nile
Agapanthus inapertus Drooping agapanthus, Drakensberg agapanthus
Agastache aurantiaca Orange hummingbird mint
Agastache cana Mosquito plant, Hummingbird plant
Agastache foeniculum Giant hyssop
Agastache mexicana Mexican hyssop
Agastache rugosa Korean mint, Wrinkled giant hyssop
Aglaonema crispum Painted drop tongue
Agrimonia eupatoria Hemp agrimony
Ajuga genevensis Blue bugle
Alcea ficifolia Antwerp hollyhock
Alchemilla mollis Lady's mantle
Alkanna tinctoria Dyer's bugloss
Althaea officinalis Common marsh mallow
Anthemis tinctoria Yellow chamomile, Golden Marguerite
Aphelandra squarrosa Zebra plant
Artemisia absinthium Absinthe wormwood, Common wormwood
Artemisia vulgaris Mugwort
Asclepias physocarpus Swan plant, Balloon cotton bush, Tinder plant
Asparagus racemosus Shatavari

B-F

Herbs' Scientific Names Herbs' Common Names
Brassica oleracea Brussels Sprout
Browallia speciosa Amethyst flower, Bush violet
Bryonia alba Devil's turnip, English mandrake, Kudzu of the Northwest
Calendula officinalis English/Pot marigold
Cannabis Cannabis, Hemp, Marijuana
Centella asiatica Asiatic penny wort
Chrysanthemum pacificum Pacific chrysanthemum
Costus lucanusianus Maboso (Kikongo)
Cucumis melo Muskmelon, Cantaloupe
Echinacea tennesseensis Tennessee purple coneflower
Euphorbia serrata Sawtooth spurge
Filipendula rubra Queen of the prairie
Filipendula ulmaria Meadowseet
Foeniculum vulgare Fennel

G-J

Herbs' Scientific Names Herbs' Common Names
Gerbera hybrida Gerber daisy
Glaucium Horned/ Sea poppy
Glycine max Soya bean, Soybean
Glycyrrhiza glabra Licorice
Gomphrena haageana Globe amaranth
Grindelia camporum Great Valley gumweed
Gunnera manicata Giant Rhubarb
Gynura aurantiaca Royal velvet plant
Gypsophila paniculata Baby's breath
Hesperantha coccinea Crimson flag
Hydrangea quercifolia Oakleaf hydrangea
Hylotelephium spectabile Ice plant
Hylotelephium telephium Orpine, Live forever plant
Impatiens sodenii Oliver's impatiens
Iresine Blood leaf
Jamesbrittenia grandiflora Purple morning glory

L-N

Herbs' Scientific Names Herbs' Common Names
Lamprocapnos Bleeding heart plant
Lotus corniculatus Birdfoot Deervetch, eggs and bacon, butter and eggs
Lupinus albus White lupin
Lupinus diffusus Spreading lupine
Lupinus nanus Dwarf lupine, Field lupine
Lupinus perennis Old Maid's bonnet, Indian beet
Maianthemum stellatum Star flowered lily of the valley
Meconopsis betonicifolia Himalayan blue poppy
Mirabilis jalapa Four O'Clock
Monarda didyma Horse mint, Oswego tea
Nertera granadensis Coral bead plant
Nierembergia rivularis White cup
Nigella damascena Love-in-a-Mist

O-R

Herbs' Scientific Names Herbs' Common Names
Origanum majorana Marjoram
Oxalis acetosella Common wood sorrel
Oxalis oregana Red wood sorrel
Oxalis tetraphylla Fouer-leaved pink sorrel
Papaver alpinum Alpine poppy
Papaver rhoeas Red poppy, Field poppy
Platycodon grandiflorus Chinese bell flower, Common balloon flower
Raphanus sativus Radish
Rheum rhabarbarum Rhubarb
Romneya Tree poppy

S-Z

Herbs' Scientific Names Herbs' Common Names
Salpiglossis sinuata Painted tongue
Salvia blepharophylla Eyelash-leaved sage
Salvia dorisiana Peach sage
Salvia lavandulifolia Spanish sage
Sambucus ebulus Danewort, Dwarf elder
Sanguisorba minor Salad burnet
Sanguisorba officinalis Burnet bloodwort
Sanvitalia procumbens Creeping zinnia
Saponaria officinalis Soapwort
Sarracenia alata Flycathcher
Sarracenia leucophylla White trumpet
Saururus cernuus Lizard's tail
Saxifraga cochlearis Snail saxifrage
Scabiosa atropurpurea Mournful widow, Egyptian rose, Sweet scabious
Schoenoplectus lacustris Bulrush
Scrophularia auriculat Water betony/figwort
Sesamum indicum Sesame
Sidalcea malviflora Checkerbloom
Silene dioica Red campion
Silphium terebinthinaceum Prairie dock
Solanum ellipticum Wild gooseberry
Sphaeralcea coccinea Prairie mallow
Stellaria holostea Greater stitchwort, Easter bell
Stokesia laevis Stokes aster
Succisa pratensis Devil's bit scabious
Syncarpha vestita Cape everlasting
Tacca integrifolia Bat plant
Tagetes patula French marigold
Tanacetum balsamita Costmary
Tanacetum coccineum Pyrethrum
Tanacetum niveum Silver tansy
Taraxacum officinale Dandelion
Tellima grandiflora Fringecups
Tetragonia tetragonioides Warrigal greens

Those were some common as well as exotic herbaceous plants. Many people like to maintain herb gardens of their own owing to the therapeutic efficacy of herbal medicine and herbal remedies. Also, with the growing popularity of exotic and fusion cooking, many people prefer using herbs and spices fresh from the garden. For this purpose, a basic knowledge of herbs and spices proves helpful.