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A clonal colony of Iris germanica-note the rhizomatious stems by which the plant reproduces.

A clonal colony or genet is a group of genetically identical individuals, such as plants, fungi, or bacteria, that have grown in a given location, all originating vegetatively, not sexually, from a single ancestor. In plants, an individual in such a population is referred to as a ramet. In fungi, "individuals" typically refers to the visible fruiting bodies or mushrooms that develop from a common mycelium which, although spread over a large area, is otherwise hidden in the soil. Clonal colonies are common in many plant species. Although many plants reproduce sexually through the production of seed, reproduction occurs by underground stolons or rhizomes in some plants. Above ground, these plants most often appear to be distinct individuals, but underground they remain interconnected and are all clones of the same plant. However, it is not always easy to recognize a clonal colony especially if it spreads underground and is also sexually reproducing.


Methods of establishmentEdit

Record coloniesEdit

The only known natural example of King's Lomatia (Lomatia tasmanica) found growing in the wild is a clonal colony in Tasmania estimated to be 43,600 years old.[1]

A group of 47,000 Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) trees (nicknamed "Pando") in the Wasatch Mountains, Utah, United States, has been shown to be a single clone connected by the root system. It is sometimes considered the world's largest organism by mass, covering 106 acres (43 ha), and also as amongst the world's oldest living organisms, at an estimated 80,000 years old. It is possible that other unknown clonal colonies of trees rival or exceed its size and/ or age.

Another possible candidate for oldest organism on earth is an underwater meadow of the marine plant Posidonia oceanica in the Mediterranean Sea, which could be up to 100,000 years of age.[2]


When woody plants form clonal colonies, they often remain connected through the root system, sharing roots, water and mineral nutrients. A few non-vining, woody plants that form clonal colonies are:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Tasmanian bush could be oldest living organism". Discovery Channel. Archived from the original on 2006-07-23. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
  2. ^ "Ibiza's Monster Marine Plant". Ibiza Spotlight. Retrieved 2008-05-07.

Further readingEdit

  • Cook, R. E. (1983). "Clonal plant populations". American Scientist. 71: 244–253.
  • Kricher, J. C., & Morrison, G. (1988). A Field Guide to Eastern Forests, pp. 19–20. Peterson Field Guide Series. ISBN 0-395-35346-7.