Glossary

If you've looked here and still can't figure a word out, send me an e-mail.


Abaxial - The side away from the axis. Example - The underside of a leaf.

Achene - A dry, one seeded, indehiscent fruit. Example 1 - Those little hard things stuck to strawberries. Example 2 - A sunflower seed. Yes, you are eating achenes.

Actinomorphic - Regular. With radial symmetry. Divisible into equal halves in more than one plane.

Acuminate - Gradually tapering to a long slender point.

Acute - Abruptly tapering to a short or long point.

Adaxial - The side toward the axis. Example - The upperside of a leaf.

Alternate - Placed one at a node on different sides and heights of the axis or stem.

Androgynous - An inflorescence in which the female(pistillate) flowers are basal and the male(staminate) flowers are apical.

Anther - The pollen bearing portion of a stamen.

Anthesis - The time period when a flower opens, from expansion to complete opening.

Antrorse - Facing or directed upward or forward, as towards the tip of a stem.

Appressed - Pressed or lying flat against something.

Attenuate - With a gradual taper.

Auricle - A lobe or appendage. Example 1 - The lobes at the base of a leaf which clasps a stem.

Auriculate - Bearing an auricle. Whew, that was tough one!

Awn - A stiff bristle. Often seen as the pappus in flowers of the Asteraceae.

Axil - The upper portion of the junction of leaf and stem, or really any organ which arises laterally from an axis or stem.

Axillary - Coming from the axil.

Barbellate - Finely barbed.

Beak - Usually seen in fruits and seeds, a tapering or slender prolonged appendage.

Berry - An indehiscent, pulpy fruit with more than one seed, not single seeded like a peach or cherry.

Bilabiate - Two lipped.

Bipinnate - Divided twice. Twice pinnate.

Bipinnatifid - Divided twice but not completely to center. Often seen in leaves which appear as bipinnate however some leaf tissue remains between the divisions.

Blade - The expanded part of a leaf or petal.

Bract - A reduced(usually) leaf like appendage usually associated with an inflorescence or just at the base of a flower or flower head. Usually green but sometimes colored in absence of petals, as in a Poinsettia.

Bractlet - A secondary bract.

Bristle - A long or short stiff trichome or hair.

Bulb - An underground short stem or bud enclosed by many succulent or fleshy leaves or scales.

Calyx - The outer most portion of a flower, comprised of the sepals.

Campanulate - Bell shaped.

Capillary - Very fine and thin, hairlike.

Capsule - A dry, dehiscent fruit composed of more than one carpel,(having more than one seed).

Carpel - One simple pistil, or a single unit of a compound pistil.

Catkin - A group of unisexual flowers arranged in a spike(usually drooping).

Cauline- On or from the stem.

Chaff - A thin, dry bract. Often seen originating on the receptacle of flowers from the Asteraceae.

Cilia - Hairs (marginal).

Clasping - A leaf base partly surrounding the stem it's attached to.

Clavate - Club shaped.

Claw - The narrowed, basal portion of flower petals or sepals. Often seen in the Brassicaceae.

Coma - A tuft of hairs attached to a seed.

Compound - Composed of two or more identical or similar parts. Example - Many of the leaves from species in the Fabaceae such as Albizia, Cassia, or Vicia.

Connate - Similar or like parts coming together and united.

Connivent - Coming together without being joined.

Cordate - "Heart" shaped. Not a real heart, a "love" heart. Can refer to the base (of a leaf) or the entire organ.

Coriaceous - With the texture of leather. Thick yet pliable.

Corolla - Of a flower, collectively the petals, typically colored other than green and showy.

Corymb - Flat topped cluster of flowers with the outer flowers opening first.

Corymbose - With corymbs, arranged in corymbs, corymblike.

Costa - A leaf midrib.

Crenate - With marginal rounded teeth.

Cuneate - Triangular. If in leaves then the narrow end is attached to the stem.

Cupulate - Cup shaped. Not like a "Dixie" cup, more like a wide coffee mug or a small bowl.

Cyathium - Specialized structure found in the Euphorbiaceae. A cup-like involucre which surrounds the flowers.

Cyme - Much like a corymb except the central flowers of a cyme open first, often dome shaped or loose and irregular.

Deciduous - Falling off.

Decompound - More than once compound.

Decumbent - Lying flat but with tips erect or ascending.

Decurrent - Extending down the stem from the point of attachment.

Dehisce - To break or split open along sutures or valves when mature.

Deltoid - Triangular, like a right triangle.

Dentate - Toothed, usually with the teeth pointing outward or perpendicular to an axil.

Denticulate - Like dentate except with small teeth.

Determinate(inflorescence) - Inflorescence in which the upper flower open first.

Diadelphous - Where the stamen filaments of a flower(usually in the Fabaceae) are united into two groups.

Digitate - A compoundness where the different parts all arise at a common point, like the fingers of a hand.

Dioecious(in plants) - Species in which the male(staminate) and female(pistillate) flowers are found on different plants.

Disc (Disk) - The central-most portion of a composite flower. Seen in the Asteraceae. Composed of tubular disc flowers.

Discoid - Bearing only tubular disc flowers.

Distinct - Separate.

Drupe - A fleshy, indehiscent fruit where the seed is surrounded by a hard endocarp (shell). Example 1 - A peach. Example 2 - A cherry.

Echinate - With prickles.

Elastic(in plants) - Where the valves of a fruit(usually of the Fabaceae) violently split apart at maturity.

Elliptic - Broad in the middle, tapering to less broad at both ends.

Emarginate - With a shallow notch at tip.

Entire - Without teeth.

Erose - With a margin that appears gnawed or chewed.

Exserted - Projecting beyond or from.

Falcate - Sickle shaped.

Fascicle - A closely grouped cluster.

Ferruginous - Rusty-brown in color.

Filament - Of a stamen, the stalk which supports the anther.

Filiform - Threadlike, round(terete) in cross section.

Fimbriate - Fringed on a margin like a comb.

Fistulose - Hollow and cylindrical, like a piece of spaghetti.

Floricane - The stems which bear the flowers,(Rubus).

Foliaceous - Like a leaf.

Follicle - A dehiscent fruit opening along a single suture. Arising from a simple pistil.

Fornices - Plural of Fornix - small scalelike appendages at the apex of a corolla tube. Often seen in the Boraginaceae.

Fruit - A mature ovary, not just that stuff you buy in the produce section of Price Chopper.

Fugacious - Wilting and falling early or quickly.

Funnelform - Shape (usually of a corolla) in which a tube gradually opens upward and outward, like a funnel.

Fusiform - Shaped like a spindle.

Gamopetalous - With the petals united, referring to a corolla.

Gamosepalous - Wanna guess? With the sepals united.

Gibbous - Swollen only on one side, typically near or at the base.

Glabrate - Almost glabrous.

Glabrous - Without hairs, smooth.

Gland - A structure which secretes or houses fluid.

Glaucous - With a whitish or grayish covering that can be rubbed off.

Globose - Rounded. Like a ball.

Glochid - A bristle or hair with barbs at its apex. The barbs often minute and best viewed with a scope or lens.

Glochidiate - Bearing glochids. Often seen in the genus Opuntia from the Cactaceae.

Glutinous - With a sticky secretion.

Gynoecium - Collectively, the female parts(organs) of a flower.

Hastate - Shaped like an arrowhead but with the basal lobes perpendicular to the main axis, such as the midrib of a leaf.

Head - A cluster of flowers.

Herbaceous - Non-woody.

Hippocrepiform - You shouldn't need this word on this web site but it was one of my favorites from school so I had to include it. The word means horseshoe-shaped.

Hirsute - With many stiff hairs.

Hispid - With stiff, bristly, rigid hairs.

Hispidulous - As above but with tiny hairs.

Horn - An appendage of a sepal or petal, usually terete in cross section, elongated, and tapering. Much like a horn from a bovine!

Hybrid - An individual arising from the cross of two different species.

Hypanthium - A tubular or cuplike receptacle on which the stamens, petals, and sepals are borne.

Imbricate - Alternately overlapping, like roof shingles.

Imperfect - (Of flowers) Being either staminate or pistillate but not both.

Incised - Sharply cut or cut irregularly.

Included - Not projecting from an organ or structure. Not exserted.

Indehiscent - Not opening along valves or sutures when mature.

Indeterminate (Inflorescence) - Inflorescence in which the lower flowers open first.

Indusium - (In ferns) An outgrowth which completely or partially covers the sori or sporangia.

Inferior - Usually referring to an ovary which is situated below the floral parts in the receptacle.

Inflated - Inflated, like a balloon. Not flat. I don't know how else to describe this word.

Inflorescence - The portion of the plant which contains the flowers and all the parts associated with flowering. The arrangement of the flowering parts.

Inserted - Attached to.

Internode - Portion of the stem between the nodes.

Involucre - (Pronounced "In - voh - lew - ker"). A series or set of bracts surrounding a flower cluster or single flower, sometimes just one bract surrounding a flower cluster. Seen in, but not exclusive to, the Asteraceae.

Involute - Rolled inward.

Irregular - (Pertaining to a corolla) not all the petals of the same size and shape. Unequal. Not all similar.

Keel - 1.) A ridge. 2.) The two lower petals of a papilionaceous flower from the Fabaceae.

Labiate - Lipped.

Lacerate - Looking torn or cut irregularly.

Lamina - The expanded portion(of a blade, petal, etc.).

Lanate - Wooly, with long intertwined hairs.

Lanceolate - Lance-head shaped, broadest near base and tapering to apex.

Lateral - On the side.

Leaflet - One portion of a compound leaf.

Legume - (Of the Fabaceae) A dry, dehiscent fruit, separating on two sutures.

Lepidote - With small scales.

Ligneous - Woody.

Ligulate - Strap-like or ribbon-like corolla from the Asteraceae. Example - A ray flower corolla.

Limb - The expanded part of a gamopetalous corolla.

Linear - Long, narrow, sides parallel.

Locule - A cavity, in plants - usually referring to an ovary, cell, or anther.

Loment - From the Fabaceae, a fruit divided into one seeded segments, usually laterally flattened.

Lunate - Crescent shaped.

Lyrate - Pinnatifid, the terminal lobe much larger than the lower ones. Example - The Brassica leaf at the bottom of many of these pages.

Maculate - Mottled in appearance, blotched.

Malpighian hair (trichome) - Short, straight hairs which are connected other than at the base (usually in the middle) and taper to the ends.

Mealy - With a covering of tiny granules.

Median - Middle.

-merous - Referring to the number of parts. Example - 4-merous, flowers with 4 petals and 4 sepals.

Midrib - The main median vein in a leaf or leaflet.

Monodelphous - Stamens in a flower with their filaments united into a (single) tube.

Moniliform - Constricted at regular intervals, resembling a string of beads.

Monoecious (In plants) - A single plant bearing both staminate and pistillate flowers.

Monopodial - A single axis.

Mucro - A short, sharp, abrupt point (tip).

Muricate - With small, spiny, hard projections.

Muticous - Blunt, with no point.

Napiform - (roots) Shaped like a turnip.

Nectary - The organ producing nectar.

Nerve - A simple (unbranched) vein.

Node - Point on stem where leaves are borne.

Nut - A hard, one-celled, indehiscent fruit.

Ob- - Latin prefix meaning inverted(backwards), reversed, or upside-down. Used in such botanical words as Obcordate, Oblanceolate, Obconical, Obovate, etc.

Oblique - Unequal-sided. Slanting.

Oblong - Sides nearly parallel, longer than broad.

Obtuse - Rounded or blunt at tip(apex).

Ocrea - A sheath, usually surrounding the stem at a node, formed by the fusion of two stipules.

Opposite - Two at a node, on different(opposing) sides of the axis.

Orbicular - Circular.

Oval - Oval.

Ovary - The portion of the pistil which becomes the fruit and contains the ovules (seeds).

Ovate - Egg-shaped(outline, two dimensions). Broader below the middle, rounded at ends.

Ovoid - Egg-shaped(solid in three dimensions).

Ovule - The body which becomes the seed after fertilization.

Pallid - Pale in color.

Palmate - Lobed or veined in a palm or hand-like fashion. Example - The leaf of Ricinus communis.

Pandurate - Fiddle-shaped.

Panicle - An irregularly compound, branching, racemose or corymbose inflorescence.

Pannose - With the texture or appearance of woven wool or wool cloth.

Papilionaceous - A typical pea-like flower with a standard, wing, and keel petals. Example - The flower of Lathyrus latifolius. (Butterfly-like).

Papilla - Small, pimplelike projections or bumps.

Pappus - A modified calyx seen in the Asteraceae, at the summit of an achene.

Patelliform - Disk-shaped.

Pectinate - Pinnatifid with linear, close, comblike divisions.

Pedate - Palmately divided where the two side(lateral) lobes are divided again.

Pedicel - A single flower stalk.

Peduncle - The stalk of a flower cluster or of a single flower if that flower is the only one in the inflorescence.

Pellucid - Almost transparent.

Peltate - (Leaves) With the petiole attached at or near the center of a leaf and not at the margin.
Example 1- The leaf of Hydrocotyle. Example 2 - The leaf of Nelumbo.

Pendent - Hanging down, from a support.

Penicillate - Brushlike.

Pepo - A fruit with a thick, leathery skin (rind) and a soft, fleshy interior. Example - A cucumber.

Perfect - (flowers) With both stamens and pistils (functional).

Perfoliate - A sessile leaf whose base completely surrounds the stem, where the stem appears to pass through the leaf.

Perianth - The calyx and corolla, not including the stamens and pistils.

Pericarp - The wall of a fruit (or ovary).

Perigynous - Borne around the ovary, not beneath it.

Petal - One division (part) of the corolla.

Petiole - A leaf stalk.

Petiolule - The stalk of a leaflet (from a compound leaf).

Phyllary - An involucral bract.

Pilose - With long, soft hairs.

Pinna - A primary (first) leaflet or division in a compound leaf.

Pinnate - Feather-like, a compound leaf with leaflets on both sides of the axis.

Pinnatifid - (leaves), Divided nearly, but not to, the midrib. Some leaf tissue remaining between divisions.

Pinnule - A secondary leaflet or division in a compound leaf.

Pistil - The female portion of a flower bearing ovary, style, and stigma.

Pistillate - A female flower, with no stamens, or stamens which are not pollen producing.

Pith - The spongy center of a stem, composed of parenchyma cells.

Plumose - Featherlike in appearance.

Prickle - A small, spikelike outgrowth of the epidermis.

Primocane - First seasons growth (stems). Useful in identifying the genus Rubus.

Procumbent - Lying flat (on ground) but not taking root.

Prostrate - Lying flat (on ground).

Puberulent - With some soft, short hairs.

Pubescent - With dense, soft, short hairs. This term is also used generally to describe any plant with a hairiness.

Punctate - With clear, translucent, or colored dots or pits.

Pyriform - Pear-shaped.

Pyxis - A capsule which dehisces circumscissilely (with the top coming off as one part like a lid). Seen in the genus Portulaca.

Quadrate - Almost square.

Raceme - A simple, elongated inflorescence with pedicillate flowers.

Rachis - The axis of a compound leaf or the primary axis of an inflorescence.

Radiate - 1.) Spreading from a common center. 2.) In the Asteraceae, a flower head with strap shaped corollas (rays).

Ray - A strap or ribbonlike floret from flower heads of the Asteraceae.

Receptacle - The portion of the pedicel which gives rise to the flowering parts.

Reclinate - Bent or turned downward.

Recurved - Bent or curved backward or downward.

Reflexed - Abruptly bent or curved backward or downward.

Regular - (flowers), 1.) With all the flowering parts like each other. All the petals alike, all the sepals alike, etc... 2.) Uniform. 3.) Radially symetrical. 4.) Without a need for Ex-Lax.

Reniform - Kidney-shaped.

Repent - Prostrate and rooting at nodes.

Replum - In the Brassicaceae, the partition between the two halves of the fruit.

Resupinate - (flowers), Twisted a half turn (180 degrees), upside down.

Reticulate - Forming a network pattern, like a fishing net.

Retrorse - Turned backward or downward.

Retuse - With a small notch at the tip.

Revolute - (leaves),With margins rolled under.

Rhizome - An underground, typically horizontal, stem which roots at nodes.

Rhombic - Diamond-shaped. (Remember geometry?)

Rib - A prominent vein or nerve.

Rosette - (usually leaves), A cluster in a circular arrangement.

Rostrate - With a beak.

Rotate - Wheel shaped.

Rufous - Reddish-brown.

Rugose - Wrinkled.

Runcinate - Sharply toothed with the teeth pointing backwards.

Saccate - Bag-shaped.

Sagittate - Shaped like an arrowhead. Basically triangular but with two basal lobes pointing in the opposite direction as the tip(apex) of the leaf.

Salient - Projecting forward.

Salverform - (corolla), With a slender tube and an abruptly expanded limb.

Samara - A winged, indehiscent fruit. Example - The seeds of the genus Acer.

Scabrid(Scabridulous) - Slightly rough to the touch.

Scabrous - Rough to the touch.

Scale - (In plants), Small, appressed leaves, or bracts.

Scandent - Climbing without the use of tendrils.

Scape - A flowering stem with no leaves which arises from the ground or near ground level.

Scarious - Thin, dry, membranelike, not green.

Scrotiform - Pouchlike.

Scurfy - With scalelike particles on surface.

Scutellum - A protrusion of the calyx in some members of the Lamiaceae, genus Scutellaria.

Secund - Directed or borne on one side (of axis).

Sepal - One unique division of the calyx.

Septate - Divided by partitions.

Septum - A partition.

Seriate - Arranged in a series, such as a series of rows or whorls.

Sericeous - Silky.

Serrate - Saw-toothed, with sharp, forward pointing teeth.

Serrulate - Minutely serrate.

Sessile - Lacking a stalk.

Seta - A bristle.

Setulose - With minute bristles.

Sheath - A tube-shaped structure which surrounds another structure or organ.

Sigmoid - Shaped like an "S".

Silicle - A silique which is nearly round, almost as long as broad.

Silique - A dry, dehiscent fruit divided by a septum.

Simple - (leaf), Undivided, not compound or lobed.

Sinuate - With a deeply wavy margin.

Sinus - The area or space between two lobes of a leaf blade, corolla, or any other single-plane, expanded organ.

Sorus(Sori) - A cluster of sporangia on a fern frond.

Spadix - An inflorescence of small, clustered flowers with a fleshy axis with an accompanying bract. Example - The inflorescence of Arisaema.

Spathe - The bract accompanying the cluster of flowers in a spadix.

Spatulate - Spoon-shaped.

Spicate - Arranged in a spike.

Sporangium - Spore case.

Spur - An appendage, from a petal or sepal, which is typically tubular and sometimes hooked or sickle- shaped and subulate. Example - The appendage present at the base of the corolla of Impatiens capensis.

Squarrose - With parts spreading or recurved at the ends.

Stamen - The "male" portion of the flower composed of a filament and pollen bearing anther.

Staminate - (flowers), With functional stamens. Can also include pistils but they must be non-functional.

Staminode - A sterile stamen.

Standard - Upright, usually largest, petal of a papilionaceous flower from the Fabaceae.

Stellate - Star-shaped or shaped like a starfish or brittlestar.

Stigma - The terminating portion of a pistil which collects the pollen.

Stipe - The leaf stalk (petiole) of a fern frond, or the stalk of a pistil. Generally a stalk.

Stipel - The stipule of a leaflet.

Stipitate - On a stipe.

Stipule - An appendage at the base of a petiole, typically in pairs, one on each side of the axis. Sometimes leaflike, sometimes scalelike.

Stolon - A basal branch, horizontal in nature, which roots at the nodes or tip.

Striate - Having longitudinal or vertical lines, nerves or ridges.

Strigose - Having sharp, straight, stiff, appressed hairs.

Strigillose - Minutely strigose.

Style - The portion of the pistil between the ovary and stigma, usually elongated.

Stylopodium - A disklike expansion(enlargment) at the base of a style, found commonly in the Apiaceae.

Subtend - Positioned under and close to.

Subulate - Awl-shaped. Tapering toward the apex.

Succulent - Fleshy, thickened, juicy internally.

Suffrutescent(Suffruticose) - Woody below but herbaceous above.

Sulcate - Grooved lengthwise.

Superior(ovary) - The position of an ovary which is situated above the insertion of the perianth.

Sucker - 1.)A shoot arising from basal portion or roots of a woody plant. 2.) A chump that will fall for anything.

Surculose - Producing suckers.

Suture - A line or "seam" of dehiscence.

Tendril - A twining organ used for climbing and clinging. Found in the Vitaceae, Smilacaceae, etc... Usually opposite or accompanying a leaf.

Tepal - A portion of the perianth which cannot be clearly designated as petal or sepal.

Terete - Circular in cross section.

Terminal - At the end of. At the tip.

Ternate - In 3's. Divided 3 times.

Theca - The pollen "sac" of an anther.

Throat - The opening of a gamopetalus corolla.

Thryse - An inflorescence of a compound, compact panicle.

Tomentose - With dense, matted, soft hairs.

Torulose - Knobby or twisted.

Trichome - A hair or bristle borne on the epidermis. The pubescence of a plant refers to its trichomes.

Trifoliolate - Having three leaflets.

Truncate - Straight across(or nearly so) at base or apex.

Tuber - A typically underground storage organ with many buds. Example - A potato.

Turbinate - Top-shaped, inversely conical.

Turgid - Swollen, firm from internal pressure.

Umbel - An inflorescence in which the pedicels all arise from a single common point. Seen much in the Apiaceae.

Umbellet - A secondary, smaller, umbel.

Umbo - A conical projection from the surface. This is the name of the "hump" on the shells(valves) of many bivalves(clams, mussels, etc...).

Uncinate - Hooked at the tip.

Uncinulate - With small hooks. Minutely uncinate.

Undulate - Wavy.

Urceolate - Urn-shaped.

Urticle - A small indehiscent fruit with a thin pericarp that is free from the single seed within.

Valve - A unit into which a capsule divides. One of the two areas between two lines of dehiscence of a capsule.

Vein - Typically visible vascular tissue.

Velutinous - Like velvet. Covered with small soft hairs which spread but are not tangled.

Verticil - A whorl.

Villous - With long, soft, unmatted hairs.

Virgate - Shaped like a staff or wand; long, slender, and straight.

Viscid - Sticky.

Whorl - Arrangement of three or more organs such as leaves or branches around an axis (stem) at the same node.

Wing - 1.) A thin, flat (or nearly so) expansion of an organ. 2.) The two lateral petals of a papilionaceous flower from the Fabaceae.

Zygomorphic - Irregular. With bilateral symmetry. Divisible into equal halves only in one plane.


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