Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the largest perennial herbaceous plant? My guess would be some kind of banana or bamboo.

share|improve this question
That would be the banana. That being said, I seem to have a hard time finding a record of where the largest banana plant was found (but lots of records for largest fruits)... – user132 Jan 15 '12 at 1:21
This sounds like another homework question. – GWW Jan 15 '12 at 2:15
Is the taxonomy tag appropriate here? – Rory M Jan 15 '12 at 11:58
It is not homework. Question about facts aren't necessarily homework. Please don't be biased. – qazwsx Jan 15 '12 at 22:25
up vote 4 down vote accepted

As mentioned above, the largest perennial herbaceous plant is indeed the banana. Whilst the main reference to this ("Yes, we have more bananas" - an article in the Royal Horticultural Society Journal from May 2002) has been removed from their website it would be I'm sure possible to order should you need to.

This summary of the banana mentions that the pseudo-stem of the banana plant grows to 6-7.6m in height - I haven't found anything taller when looking around so it doesn't generate any reason to doubt the removed article.

Regarding the comments on Bamboo, there are 7 genera containing bamboo species. All of these (Arthrostylidium Rupr, Bambusa Schreb, Chusquea Kunth, Dendrocalamus Nees, Phyllostachys Siebold & Zucc., Pseudosasa Makino and Sasa Makino & Shibata) are described as having persistent woody stems so don't meet your herbaceous requirement.

share|improve this answer
So what happens with bamboo? Doesn't it grow a lot taller than 6 meters sometimes? It's also perennial and herbaceous, right? – qazwsx Jan 19 '12 at 22:16
Not all bamboo species are herbaceous, some are woody. I'll dig into the relative sizes of the two variants some more tomorrow =) – Rory M Jan 19 '12 at 22:44
@Problemaniac I've done the research and it seems I was mistaken last night. All genera with common name bamboo in ITIS are woody as shown in my now revised answer =) – Rory M Jan 20 '12 at 23:12
So was it a common misunderstanding that "a bamboo forest is/can be just one big tall grass of a kind"? – qazwsx Jan 21 '12 at 1:56
It would seem to be - I would imagine that confusion stems (no pun intended) from all bamboo species being contained within the Family Poaceae, which has a common name of 'grasses'. However the distinction between herbaceous and woody happens lower down at Genus. – Rory M Jan 21 '12 at 16:36

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.