Botanical Glossary

Botanical Glossary

Botanical: Glossary

  

Botanical TermsDescription
A
abaxial The lower surface of a leaf
adaxial the upper surface of a leaf
adnate a fusion of different parts, e.g. stamens to the corolla
alternate borne singly at each node and along the axis
androecium a collective term for the stamens in a flower
annual
a plant which completes its life cycle within one year or one growing season
anther the part of the stamen containing the pollen
apex the distal end, tip, the highest point of attachment
aril an appendage growing at or near the hilum of a seed
axil
the angle between the stem and the leaf, e.g. a branch and a leaf
B
base the point of attachment of any organ
berry
a fleshy or pulpy indehiscent fruit with several to many seeds developing from a single pistil
biennial
a plant with a life cycle of two years from seedling stage to maturity, seed-set and then dying
bilobed divided into two lobes
bisexual
having both sexes (stamens and pistils) in the same flower, or in the same inflorescence
bole the unbranched part of the trunk of a tree
bract a modified leaf-like structure at the base of a flower ora modified leaf-like structure at the base of a flower or inflorescence
bud a meristem (apical or lateral) in the early development ora meristem (apical or lateral) in the early development or resting stages
bulb a modified underground storage organ with thickened fleshy modified underground storage organ with thickened fleshy scales, e.g. the onion
buttress supporting outgrowth at the base of a tree
C
calyx collective term for sepals
campanulate bell-shaped
canopy the uppermost layer of vegetation or branches of the tree uppermost layer of vegetation or branches of the trees usually in a forest
capitate flowers growing together in a head-like or in head-shaped flowers growing together in a head-like or in a head-shaped cluster
capitulum a small flower head in a dense cluster
capsule a dry, dehiscent fruit composed of more united carpels
carpel a female reproductive organ that bears ovules in angiosperms
compound with two or more like parts in one organ
corolla collective term for petals
cyme a flower cluster with the pedicels of equal length and the central flower matured first
D
deciduous falling off, shedding all its leaves from a tree, not evergreen
dehiscent breaking open at maturity to release the contents (of a fruit breaking open at maturity to release the contents (of a fruit capsule or anther)
dentate prominently toothed along the margin with sharp, spreading prominently toothed along the margin with sharp, spreading symmetrical projections pointing outwards
dicotyledonous with two cotyledons
dioecious flowers imperfect, having male and female flowers on flowers imperfect, having male and female flowers on different plants
distinct separate, not attached to mutual parts
divergent diverging or spreading
distichous in two opposite rows, one on each side of the stem
drupe a fleshy indehiscent fruit with the seed enclosed in a stony fleshy indehiscent fruit with the seed enclosed in a stony endocarp, e.g. peach or cherry
duct Tan elongated tube
E
edentate without teeth
ellipsoid The 3-dimensional shape of an ellipse-shaped almost like a
stretched circle, circular in cross-section, widest in the middle
and tapering to each end
embryo the immature plant within a seed
endocarp the inner layer of the pericarp of a fruit wall
entire Not toothed, notched or divided, usually referring to aleaf margin
epidermis the outermost layer of cells
epigynous with stamens, petals
erect vertical, upright, not declining or spreading
evergreen  retaining green leaves or other organs throughout the year 
exocarp  the outer layer of the pericarp of a fruit wall 
F
fascicle a tight bundle or compact cluster, arising from a more or less tight bundle or compact cluster, arising from more or less the same point
fertile capable of bearing seeds or pollens
fibrous bearing or resembling fibers
filament a thread-like structure, the stalk of the stamen which supports a thread-like structure, the stalk of the stamen which supports the anther
fleshy thick and pulpy, succulent with high water content
floret an individual small flower within a dense cluster of an individual small flower within a dense cluster of inflorescence
flower the reproductive part of a plant
free not attached or fused to other organs
fruit a ripened, matured ovary or seed-bearing organ, with ora ripened, matured ovary or seed-bearing organ, with or without adnate parts
fusiform spindle-shaped, thick in the middle but narrowly tapering spindle-shaped, thick in the middle but narrowly tapering towards both ends
   G
gall an abnormal growth caused by insects, parasite, or fungus 
gametophyte  a type of plant that produces gametes (eggs and/or sperm) 
genome  a complete chromosome set 
girth the circumference of a tree bole
glabrous smooth, without hair
gland a secretory area or other structure on the surface, either a secretory area or other structure on the surface, either embedded or ending with hair that produces a sticky or oily substance
globose globe-shaped, spherical
glume the bracts usually occurring in pairs, at the base of a grass the bracts usually occurring in pairs, at the base of a grass spikelet
grain a small, seed-like structure
granule a small grain
H
habit the general appearance of vegetation, characteristics form, or the general appearance of vegetation, characteristics form, or mode of growth of a plant
hastate arrowhead-shaped, leaf base with two triangular lobes arrowhead-shaped, leaf base with two triangular lobes pointed outward rather than downward
head a short dense cluster of sessile or subsessile inflorescence
helicoid spiraling, coiled like a helix or spring
herbaceous with the characteristics of herb, not woody, having the texture with the characteristics of herb, not woody, having the texture of a leaf
hermaphrodite bisexual plant with stamens and pistils in the same flower, bisexual plant with stamens and pistils in the same flower, perfect flower
hilum a scar on a seed indicating its attachment point to the scar on a seed indicating its attachment point to the placenta
hirsute pubescent with coarse, stiff, curving hairs
horn an elongated cone or tapering projection, but often curved
hypanthium a cup-shaped extension of tissue in a flower formed from the cup-shaped extension of tissue in a flower formed from the union of the basal parts of the sepals, petals, and stamens, commonly surrounding the pistils
I
imparipinnate  odd-pinnate, unequally pinnate 
imperfect  unisexual with either stamens or pistils, but not both 
indehiscent  not splitting open at maturity along definite lines 
inflorescence the flowering part of  a plant, or the arrangement of a flower cluster on the flowering axis
infructescence  the arrangement of fruits on a stem 
innate  borne at the apex, as an anther at the apex of the filament 
internode  the part of the stem between two nodes 
intramarginal within or near the margin
involucre a whorl of bracts which are modified leaflets, subtending at whorl of bracts which are modified leaflets, subtending at the base flower or flower cluster
irregular asymmetrical, which all parts of the flower are different in size asymmetrical, which all parts of the flower are different in size or shape
J
joint the section where an organ can bend, often swollen and the section where an organ can bend, often swollen and eventually break off, more commonly termed a node
jointed having nodes of apparent articulation
jugate joined parts in pairs, e.g. leaflets of a pinnate leaf
juvenile young, early form
junciform rush-like in form or appearance
K
keel a narrow, prominent longitudinal ridge sticking out from a narrow, prominent longitudinal ridge sticking out from the rounded surfaces, like the bottom of a boat hull
kingdom a division or classification as in the plant kingdom
knee a joint like a stem of a grass
knee root breathing root where a loop of horizontal root formed at low breathing root where a loop of horizontal root formed at low tide
keiki a plant produced asexually, usually of orchids as a distal plant produced asexually, usually of orchids as a distalvegetative branch of the main stem as in orchids, which will grow roots
dichotomous key plant identification method using opposing choices
 
label one segment of a compound leaf 
labellum  lip-shaped petal of an orchid blossom 
lamella  thin plate, membrane; forming part of the corona 
lamina  blade of leaves or petals 
lateral  borne on or at the side of the margin 
latex  a sticky texture like a milky sap 
laticifer  a tube containing latex 
lax  loose part, open and not compact arrangement 
leader  the terminal part of a shoot or branch 
leaflet a part of a compound leaf
leaf scar the mark left on twig or stem of a tree after leaf falls
lenticular lentil-shaped or a 3-dimensional shape that is convex on lentil-shaped or a 3-dimensional shape that is convex onside and circular in section
limb a tree branch; the extended part of a petal or leaf
linear a long, narrow line parallel to margins
lobe a rounded part or division of an organ
locule separate cavity or chamber of an organ such as in ovary
M  
macrophyll refer to leaf size which is relatively large and expanded
margin  the edge of the leaf blade 
megaspore  spores that produce female gametophytes which produce spores that produce female gametophytes which produce egg cells 
membranous thin and soft membrane-like
mesophyll part of leaf tissue found between upper and lower epidermis part of leaf tissue found between upper and lower epidermis of the leaf section
microphyll a very short, small, narrow, single-veined leaf
microspore spore that produces male gametophyte in some ferns
membrane thin, film-like, flexible and often translucent
morphology a study of the form and appearance of an organism
monoecious staminate and pistillate flowers borne on the same plant
mericarp part of the fruit that contains seed and not forming a single unit
meristem dividing tissue at the growing tips of shoots and roots
midrib central or primary vein of a leaf or another organ
mesocarp the middle layer of the pericarp of fruit with the fleshy or succulent middle layer of the pericarp of fruit with the fleshy or succulent part
mucronate tipped with a short and sharp point
N  
natant floating in water
numerous many, more than ten
necrotic dead plant tissues that darken the plant
nectar sticky, sweet fluid secreted by plants usually to attract sticky, sweet fluid secreted by plants usually to attract pollinators
nectary the organ that produces nectar
nerve simple vein or rib of a leaf
neuter no stamens or pistils, sexless
nocturnal active at night
node the area of attachment of leaves or branches on the stem
nodule a swelling shape
nothotaxon unit of classification for hybrids
nut indehiscent fruit usually hard and dry
nyctanthous flowering at night
nyctigamous opening at night
nyctitropic movement or plant parts positioning that occurs at night
  o
obligate restricted to particular conditions, life form or habitat
oblique unequal sides near the base
oblong the shape of longer than breadth with almost parallel sides
obovate shape with the broadest part near the apex
ocrea a tubular stipule sheathing around the stem
odd-pinnnate pinnately compound leaf in a terminal leaflet with an odd number
offset a lateral shoot near the ground, often prostrate
opposite borne on the same node but across from one another
organ any plant part of a plant structure with a specific function
ovate egg-shaped with the wider part below the middle, broad end
oblanceolate shape with attachment at the narrower end
ovary expanded basal portion, the ovule-bearing part of the expanded basal portion, the ovule-bearing part of the gynoecium
offshoot lateral shoot or branch arising from the main stem
ovoid egg-shaped with the broad part below the middle or nearest to egg-shaped with broad part below the middle or nearest to the base
ovule an immature seed in the ovary
P
palmate with parts originating from a common or central point, like with parts originating from a common or central point, like fingers of a hand
palmatifid cut to a palmate form, palmately lobed
panicle a branched, indeterminate flower cluster (inflorescence) with a branched, indeterminate flower cluster (inflorescence) with individual flowers on stalks (pedicels).
papillose covered by many small soft nipple-like projections
pedicel the stalk of an individual flower in an inflorescence
peduncle the stalk of a solitary flower or inflorescence
peltate round and attached at or near the center, shield-shaped
perennial living for three too many years
perfect having both male and female parts
perianth collective term for the calyx and corolla
pericarp the wall of fruit
petal an individual segment of a divided corolla, typically colored
petiole the stalk of a leaf
phloem a conducting tissue which transports food in vascular plants
pinnate a compound leaf divided into a central axis and leaflets
pilose soft hairy with short, straight and thin hairs
pistil female reproductive organ of a flower which consists of female reproductive organ of a flower which consists of ovary, style, and stigma
pit a small hollow or openings in the wall of tracheids and vessela small hollow or openings in the wall of tracheids and vessel elements
placenta the part of the ovary which bears ovules or seeds
pod dry dehiscent fruit which splits open when ripe
pollen powder-like substance produced by male part of a flower,powder-like substance produced by male part of a flower, acts as a fertilising agent
prickle sharp and small thorn or outgrowth from the epidermis
procumbent trailing or lying on the ground, but not rooting at the nodes
prominent standing out or projecting from the surrounding surface, such as standing out or projecting from the surrounding surface, such as raised veins on the surface of a leaf
prostrate lying flat on the ground
pseudo- (prefix) meaning false
puberulent minutely short and fine hairs
pubescent covered with dense, short and soft hair
pulverulent appearing dusty or powdery
pungent tipped with a sharp, rigid point
pyrene the stone or pit of a fruit
Q  
 quadrangular having four angles
 quadrate almost square or rectangular in form
quinary  in fives
quinquepartite  deeply divided into five parts 
quoad  to the extent of
R  
 raceme flower cluster, unbranched and elongated with pedicellateflower cluster, unbranched and elongated with pedicellateflowers maturing from the bottom to terminal 
rachis  main axis of a structure 
recumbent  leaning or resting on the ground 
radiate  with parts spreading from a common centre 
radicle  primary root which develops from germinating seed 
remote  distantly spaced 
reniform  kidney-shaped 
resinous  bearing resin and often sticky 
reticulum  a network of veins 
retuse  with a shallow notch in a round or blunt apex 
rhizome a horizontal underground stem consisting of nodes or buds
rib a main longitudinal vein in a structure particularly raised a main longitudinal vein in a structure particularly raised above the surrounding surface
rind a thick, tough, outer covering layer
ripe complete and fully developed, mature
root plant part found underground and usually lacking with nodes plant part found underground and usually lacking with nodes or leaves
rosette a tightly clustered and packed leaves, usually at or near a tightly clustered and packed leaves, usually at or near the ground
rotund nearly round or rounded in the outline
rudimentary non-functional and imperfectly developed
rugose wrinkled
runner a slender stolon or prostrate stem rooting at the nodes or at a slender stolon or prostrate stem rooting at the nodes or at the tip along the surface of the ground
S
sac a bag-shaped compartment or small cavity within an organism
sagittate arrow-head shaped, with the basal acute lobes pointing arrow-head shaped, with the basal acute lobes pointing downward
sap the fluids of a plant
sarmentose with long, thin and slender runners
scabrid roughened with minute stiff hairs
scalariform ladder-like
scale any thin, small, flat, scarious structure, often encloses aflower
scape a leafless peduncle arising from ground
scar a mark left on stem or branch by fallen leaves or fruits
scutellum a small plate-like or shield-like structure
seed a ripened ovule capable to develop into another plant
segment a division of an organ
sepal a segment of a calyx
septate divided by one or more partitions
serrate saw-like teeth along margin pointing towards the apex
sessile attached directly without stalk
sheath a tubular part or organ, as the leaf base of grass surrounds a tubular part or organ, as the leaf base of grass surrounds the stem
shoot a young stem or branch
shrub a woody perennial plant with several stems, smaller than aa woody perennial plant with several stems, smaller than a tree
simple undivided
sinuate with a deep wavy, uneven margin
sinuous of a wavy or serpentine form
solitary single, not borne in a group
spathe a large sheathing bract and often enclosing a flower cluster
spike an unbranched, elongated racemose inflorescence with an unbranched, elongated racemose inflorescence with sessile or subsessile flowers maturing from the bottom upwards
spikelet a small spike or secondary spike
spine a stiff, slender, sharp pointed and hardened structure
stalk supporting structure attached to an organ and the sizesupporting structure attached to an organ and the sizeusually narrower than the organ
stamen the male reproductive structure of a flower, consisting ofthe male reproductive structure of a flower, consisting ofanther and filament
stem plant part above the ground usually consisting of nodes,plant part above the ground usually consisting of nodes,buds, and leaf attachment
stipe a stalk supporting structure
stolon an elongate, horizontal stem creeping along the ground andan elongate, horizontal stem creeping along the ground andgiving rise to a new plant
stone hard, woody endocarp of a drupe
style usually narrowed and slender portion of pistil between theusually narrowed and slender portion of pistil between thestigma and ovary
sub- (prefix) meaning under, slightly or almost
succulent juicy and fleshy plant part as in cactus
sucker shoot arising from underground
superior the ovary part that is attached above the other whorls of floralthe ovary part that is attached above the other whorls of floralpart
syncarp a multiple fruit or aggregate fruit
T
 tendril a slender, coiling structure used to grasp support for climbing 
terete  round in cross section or cylindrical structure 
testa  the seed coat 
thorn  a stiff, short woody, modified stem with a sharp point 
throat  a part of corolla-tube widen into the mouth and apical part ofa part of corolla-tube widen into the mouth and apical part ofcorolla tube is below the mouth 
thyrse  a mixed inflorescence, compact or ovate panicle of cylindricala mixed inflorescence, compact or ovate panicle of cylindricalform, with main axis indeterminate and cymose at secondaryaxis 
toothed  dentate 
trailing  prostrate and creeping on the ground but not rooting 
trichome a hair-like, bristle outgrowth of the epidermis
truncate with the apex or base squared at the end as if cut off
trunk the main stem of a tree below the crown branches
tuber the thickened modified part of underground stem bearingthe thickened modified part of underground stem bearing nodes and buds for food storage
tufted arranged in a dense, tight cluster
tunic the outer coating of a seed or bulb consisting of dead leafthe outer coating of a seed or bulb consisting of dead leafbases
twig a small shoot or branch from a tree
twining coiling or spiraling around another structure as support forcoiling or spiraling around another structure as support fo rclimbing
U
umbel inflorescence which forms a flat-topped surface with theinflorescence which forms a flat-topped surface with thepedicels arising more or less from a common point
umbo a small blunt or rounded protuberance
unarmed lacking spine, prickle or thorn
uncinate hooked at the tip
unifoliate with a single leaf
unilateral inflorescence with the flowers all on one side of the axis
uniseriate arranged in a single horizontal row or series
unisexual a flower with either male or female reproductive organs, buta flower with either male or female reproductive organs, butnot both
urn the basal portion of a pyxis
V
valve one of the segments of a dehiscent fruit, splitting of a capsuleone of the segments of a dehiscent fruit, splitting of a capsulewhen matured
variegated marked with the patches or spots of variety of colors
vascular conductive tissue of xylem and phloem
vegetative of or pertaining to the non-floral parts of a plant
vein a vascular bundle, usually visible on a surface, as in leaves
vermiform worm-shaped
vertical positioned in the direction perpendicular to the horizontalpositioned in the direction perpendicular to the horizontalsurface
vesicle a small bladder-like structure or cavity
vessel a conducting structure of the xylem to transport water
villous bearing long, soft, weak hairs
vine a climbing or trailing plant with small stem diametre, not selfsupporting
viscid sticky or gummy
W
wart  a small, hard and firm protuberance 
weed  an aggressive plant which colonises disturbed habitats
whorl a ring-like arrangement of similar organs borne from aa ring-like arrangement of similar organs borne from acommon point
wing a thin margin and flat extension structure
winged possessing wings
woolly with long, soft, entangled hairs
X
xanthic yellowish
xanthophyll yellow, orange or red fat-soluble pigments
xerophyte a plant adapted to grow in dry environment
xeromorphic possessing obvious physical adaptations for a drypossessing obvious physical adaptations for a dryenvironment
xylem the conducting tissue of vascular plants which transportsthe conducting tissue of vascular plants which transportswater and some nutrients
Z
zonate marked or coloured in circular rings or zones
zygomorphic having only one plane of symmetry that produce a mirrorhaving only one plane of symmetry that produce a mirrorimage on either side