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Perennial plants species generate a new plant annually from the same parent root stock. At the end of the year that new shoot withers and dies, to re-appear the next year. Hence, the above-ground parts of perennials obviously age and die, but what about the rootstocks?

Are the rootstocks from perennial plant species immortal, or do these rootstocks age and die as well?

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  • $\begingroup$ biology.stackexchange.com/questions/13777/… answers the uniucellular question accurately and see Remi's suggestions. I edited the question to leave the rootstock part. That seems to be a valid new question. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Mar 16 '17 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ Note that you describe herbaceous perennials, as not all perennials die back each year (e.g., evergreen perennials and woody plants like trees and shrubs retain their shoots). $\endgroup$ – theforestecologist Mar 16 '17 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ I have a number of rose varieties that have been propagated from cuttings & divisions of plants bred in the 1800s. And there's an aspen clone said to be about 80,000 years old: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pando_(tree) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Mar 17 '17 at 3:54
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The issue is based on your perception of what an individual ought to be. The concept of individual is actually often hard to apply in biology and therefore is the concept of ageing. In other words, the wish to categorize is a rather human tendency but it may fail to make objective representation of biodiversity. The book The Major Transitions in Evolution Revisited makes a very good job to explain the difficulties to deal with the concept of individual in biology.

You seem to be happy to consider an offspring be a different individual if you can still perceive the parent individual. In bacteria, both resulting cells could be considered as offspring and therefore new individuals. Note however, that asymmetrical division bring some more blur into these categorizations.

Note also that single cell bacteria do age. See the wikipedia article on bacterial ageing. You might also want to have a look at the wikipedia article on biological immortality as well as the posts Why is the Hydra Biologically Immortal? and Do crocodiles age?.

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  • $\begingroup$ I edited the question - see my comments. Please feel free to revert those changes, but I think the unicellular part is duplicate. Perhaps you can add a sentence on perennials? Up to you. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Mar 16 '17 at 19:50

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