The Life Cycle of Plants
Through asexual reproduction, many plants can produce genetically identical offshoots (clones) of themselves, which then develop into independent plants. This process is called vegetative propagation, or vegetative reproduction. One way in which vegetative propagation occurs is through fragmentation, a process in which a severed plant part can grow into a whole new plant. Other modes of vegetative propagation include the production of specialized structures such as tubers, runners, and bulbs. The advantages to this kind of asexual reproduction, which can occur either naturally or artificially, stem from the fact that it can occur more rapidly than seed propagation and can allow a genetically superior plant to produce unlimited copies of itself without variation.
Tubers, such as potatoes, are fleshy underground storage structures composed of enlarged parts of the stem. A tuber functions in asexual propagation as a result of the tiny scale leaves equipped with buds that grow on its surface. Each of these buds can form a new plant, genetically identical to the parent.
Runners, such as those found on strawberry plants, are slender horizontal stems that spread outward from the main plant . Entirely new plants can develop from nodes located at intervals on the runners; each node can give rise to new roots and shoots.
Bulbs, such as onions and tulips, are roughly spherical underground buds with fleshy leaves extending from their short stems. Each bulb contains several other buds which can give rise to new plants.