A plant, specifically one that people grow in their gardens, which will survive seasonal extremes (usually winter), and therefore not have to be planted again and again. Some will have a dormant stage in which they appear dead. The chrysanthemum is one such well-known flower. Some plants can be considered perinnals in one part of the globe, but will become annuals if moved to colder climes. An annual, on the other hand, only lasts for one growing season.

The Everything Guide to Gardening

per: through
annus: year

Through years.


The Romans so thoroughly contained the Mediterranean that they called it mare nostrum--our sea.  Because Egypt produced grain, its leaders spoke Latin.

Pompey and Caesar came up in a culture of ancestral worship.  In each of their centuries-old homes was a room dedicated to displaying their ancestors' faces, stone-carved, with listed accomplishments.  Attitude is embedded in language; "our sea" says plenty, as does Pompey's claim that he could raise soldiers from the earth by stomping his feet.  For him, the concept of per annus likely held more personal urgency.  It's especially cruel that he was hacked to death by unremembered people on a nameless beach, on the far side of his sea.  Caesar out-maneuvered him so suddenly.

Imprints linger in unintended ways.  Grain fed the republic, then the empire; today, desert surrounds an inland sea.

Perennial--two word-scraps tied to a bottomless idea--sounded more or less the same way to Pompey as it does to us, meant more or less the same thing, has remained every bit as slippery.





The solstice found me on a polyethylene mattress, wrapped in machine-woven sheets; I thought about ham hock soup, my Christmas bonus, how much of a clusterfuck the Target in Santa Ana would be next morning.  Because others exist to care about planetary movements, it's easy to imagine that this is a different world from the one where generals enclosed one another with their dead. But because I eat grain, India grows grain.

Perennial is a slippery thing even for plants.  Tomatoes are perennials; they live years when left alone in the right place.  Ditto eggplants, peppers, basil, oregano, and plenty of others categorized as annuals.  Don't believe what seed packets tell you.  A good many plants reach for light and build rootstock as long as they're able.  Many have evolved to frost-die all the way back to the roots each year.

Plants grow well in ploughed soil because ploughed soil is freshly dead. Millions of beings in each cubic inch rupture, burn in ultraviolet light, starve.  Their atoms, no more aware of years than nitrogen-fixing bacteria, follow a chain of events started at the big bang down new roots, up new stalks.  Naturally, the plant runs its course quickly in the dead soil. 





Millions rupture, burn in engineered flame, starve. Their resources, no more aware of years than depleted uranium, follow a chain of events started at the plow down disposal wells, up smokestacks.

It's true; plants owe it to microbes to live as long as they can.  The empire's eastern half persisted a thousand years after Pompey--and Caesar too, for that matter.

Conquest blooms from dead soil.  That much is perennial.

Per*en"ni*al (?), a. [L. perennis that lasts the whole year through; per through + annus year. See Per-, and Annual.]


ing or continuing through the year; as, perennial fountains.


Continuing without cessation or intermission; perpetual; unceasing; never failing.

The perennial existence of bodies corporate. Burke.

3. Bot.

Continuing more than two years; as, a perennial steam, or root, or plant.

Syn. -- Perpetual; unceasing; never failing; enduring; continual; permanent; uninterrupted.


© Webster 1913.

Per*en"ni*al, n. Bot.

A perennial plant; a plant which lives or continues more than two years, whether it retains its leaves in winter or not.


© Webster 1913.

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