Asexual reproduction occurs within the plant kingdom, and also within the animal kingdom. In the animal kingdom, asexual reproduction is mainly limited to single-cell organisms and invertebrates. Asexual reproduction is the ability to reproduce or create offspring without the union of male and female parts. There are several distinct types or methods of asexual reproduction within the plant kingdom.
Only one parent is needed to produce offspring when a species is capable of asexual reproduction. This means that the chances of the plant reproducing increase significantly, as asexual reproduction does not rely on pollination from a male organism. During periods of stress or poor conditions, a plant may still produce offspring, whereas many plants that reproduce sexually do not produce any offspring when stressed or when conditions remain poor. Asexual reproduction allows growers to select the best crops, which will continue to reproduce the same high-quality offspring since the only genetic material involved in asexual reproduction techniques comes from the solitary parent plant, meaning that the desirable qualities present in the parent will be undiluted in the offspring.
Asexual reproduction does have some disadvantages. Because only one strand of genetic material is used, negative or undesirable qualities will continue to pass into each new generation of offspring. If the genetic material mutates during asexual reproduction, an entire crop or society of offspring may need to be destroyed. Due to the way plants perform asexual reproduction, with offspring often situated close to both the parent and each other, there is competition for light and nutrients, which may lead to some or all of the plants performing poorly.
Some plants, such as grasses, thistles and sedges, reproduce using underground rhizomes. Rhizomes are stems that grow beneath the ground, tunneling through the soil. Periodically, the stems produce new root systems below ground with a new shoot above the surface. When the original rhizome dies off, the offspring plants are all self sufficient and produce their own rhizomes.
Plants such as strawberries reproduce via an asexual method using stolons. Stolons are essentially runners that grow and spread outward from the parent plant. Periodically, the stolons form a new shoot and root system, which, if given water, light and nutrients, will develop into a new plant identical to the parent.
Tubers are a mutated version of rhizomes. Tubers such as potatoes produce stem branches, which burrow down into the soil. The ends of these branches swell, forming into tubers. The tubers contain the genetic information, and the surface of the tuber has buds or eyes on it. Each bud will grow upward and form a new plant.