Glossary of Botany
Abelia: (Genus of plants) Plants from Mexico, Himalaya and Eastern Asia from Caprifoliaceae Family. There are about 30 species, all of them showing tubular flowers.
Achene: (Type of indehescent dry fruit) Achenes are fruits with a solitary seed, not attached to the carpel. Sometimes achenes appear joined together in what it is known as poly-achenes.
Acicular: (Type of leaf) needle-shaped. Several times longer than wide; ending sharply at the apex.
Aglanoema: (genus of plants) Plants from tropical South Asia of the Arum Family - Areaceae - there are about 20 species. Some of them used in gardening. Anagloema simplex is used to aromatize cigars.
Alternate: (Type of leaf), springing one per node at different levels of the stem.
Anacardiaceae: (Cashew family) The Cashew family - Anacardiaceae - comprises about 600 species of plants which live in temperate and subtropical countries. They are mainly trees and bushes, which contain in their stems big quantities of latex and tanines, very frequently used in resin and tanning industries. (in mastic- tree , for example). We also have very well known edible plants, such as mangoes (Mangifera indica) or pistachios. (Pistacia vera).
Androecium: It is the male reproductive part of the flower. We can find in it the stamens which were leaves that suffered a transformation to carry the pollen .
Angiosperm: (Kind of plant) Plant with the ovaries containing seeds. Angiosperms are considered superior plants with flowers.
Anglet angulate: (type of stem) forming an angle, not round.
Anther: (Part of the flower) The anther is the "little bag" where pollen is contained
Annual: (Type of plant according to the stem) Plants with a year life-time. Weeds generally belong to this group
Aptenia: (genus of plants) Plants from South Africa of the Aizoazeae family containing 2 species of succulents plants, with flowers very similar to those of daisies. For details of cultivation consult "My garden"
Buttercup (Buttercup family - ranunculaceae -) it comprises about 2000 species of plants mainly spread in temperate countries. Most of them are herbs and lianas having big flowers, so they are very valuable in gardening. They are also very well known because many of them are poisonous plants.
Bell-flower: (The bellflower family - campanulaceae -) It includes about 2000 species ,spread all around the world. They are mainly annual herbs.
Berry (Type of fruits) Berries are fruits with very soft epicarp and with the mesocarp and endocarp very fleshy . For instance, tomatoes and grapes.
Bilabiate: (Type of flower) flower presenting irregular corollas with two very distinctive lips, the upper one made by joining two petals and the lower one by joining three.
Bindweed: The Bindweed family - convulvulaceae - comprises about 1500 species of plants scattered worldwide. Some are shrubs; other trees. Many of them are climbing plants. There are also some parasites. Some species, such as Ipomoea batatas (sweet potato) is cultivated in many places around the world because of its tubercles; other ones, like the Mexican Exogonium purga (jalap) or the Indian Operculina turpethum contain medicinal and purgative properties in their tuberous roots. Some members of this family are used in gardening, like in the case of the Ipomoema genus, and more precisely the species Ipomoea acuminata, which, after being cultivated for many years , can be found in the wild as a naturalized species.
Biome: (A bunch of vegetal communities) Vegetal communities sharing similar fisiognomy, induce by a similar climate.
Borage (The Borage family - boraginaceae -) It comprises about 2000 species scattered all around the world. They are mainly herbs and shrubs.
Branched: (Type of root) They do not have a primary root. They resemble to the branches of a tree.
Bud: (Part of the stem) are responsible for plant growth, either new stems, flowers or buds .
Bulb: (Type of stem) Bulbs are in fact buds adapted to leave under the ground, that store food provisions. Onions are bulbs.
Bush: (Type of plant according to the stem) Bushes are ligneous plants shorter than one meter tall
Calyx: It is the green section of the flower. It is more consistent than the corolla. It is formed by green leaf- like pieces called sepals. They are meant to protect the flower bud.
Campanulate: (Type of flower) these flowers are narrower than tubular , in the shape of a bell.
Carpel: It is the female reproductive part of the flower. Similar to a base-expanded bottle, stands upright in the middle of the flower. Its green colour denotes it derives from a transformed leaf.
Caryopsis: (Type of indehescent dry fruit) Caryopsys are fruits with the seed stuck to the pericarp .
Ciliated or ciliate: (Type of leaf margin) having little hairs.
Clambering: (Type of stem) Elastic stems that wind around other plants or structures, like beans, for example.
Compound: (Type of leaf) Leave with a fragmented blade ,with divisions reaching the midrib . Sometimes each one of these fragments is similar to a single leaf. They are called leaflets.
Coriaceous: (Of fruits or leaves) It is said when the object presents a texture like leather
Croton: (Name of plants) Herbaceous or shrubby plants belonging to "Codiaeum" genus from Euphorbiaceae family. There are about 400 species, scattered in warm countries. Very appreciated in gardening as indoor plants because of their leaves, covered with painted designs. For details about cultivation and photos consult "My garden"
Cyclamen: (Genus of plants) Plants of the Primulaceae Family with cordate leaves and distinctive single flowers and tuberous roots. There are about 20 species mainly in the Mediterranean area. More information in "My garden"
Climbing: (Type of stem) stems provided with aerial roots to hold the plant to different surfaces, like the ivy. (Type of plant) It is said of plants that grip themselves to some kind of support to keep erect like ivy.
Coral Berry: (genus of plants) Evergreen trees and shrubs of Mirsinaceae Family very well know because of their decorative fruits (berries) There are about 400 species scattered in Tropical and subtropical Asia, América and Oceania. For cultivation details and photos consult "My garden".
Cordate: (Type of leave), heart-shaped . More extended at the base than the ovate type and with a notch.
Corolla: The corolla or coloured section of the flower, where the petals, or coloured pieces, can be found. They are meant to attract the pollen carriers, so they contain perfume and nectar.
Corymb: (Type of inflorescence) In a corymb all the florets are arranged along a floral peduncle but, differently to racemes, stems have different length in such a way that all the florets appear at the same flat round level. Graphic example:
Cotyledon: (Part of the seed) The first leaf or leaves of the embryo. According to the number of cotyledons, we classify plants in two groups: monocotyledons or monocots and dicotyledons or dicots. In the first group we find so important plants as cereals, palms, lilies, tulips or orchids. The members of the second group are more numerous and comprises most of the trees and flowers.
Deciduous: (Type of plant) It is said of the plants that loose all their leaves in a season of the year.
Decumbent (type of stem) Stem that runs along the ground but stands up at the end.
Dehiscent: (Types or dry fruits) They are fruits that open when they grow up and let their seeds go away. There are different types like: follicles , pods , siliques , capsules ...etc
Dentate: (Type of leave) dentate leaves have little teeth at the margin
Dioecious: (Type of flowers) It is said of flowers that are only one sex, male or female.
Dracaena: (genus of plants) Perennial trees and shrubs of the Liliaceae family. They live in equatorial zones. Very appreciated because of their leaves as indoor plants.For details of cultivation and photos see "My garden"
Drupe or stone: (Type of fruit) Drupes or stones are fruits with soft mesocarp and a coriaceous endocarp . They become from an inferior ovary . For example, peaches, plums or olives.
Dry (Type of fruit) Dry fruits are those fruits showing a hard texture. They bear a wood-like leathery appearance and when we press on them we feel they are not soft.
Dycotiledon or dico: (Type of plant according to the cotyledons) Plants with two cotyledons in the seed. The members of this group are more numerous than the monocotyledons and comprise most of the trees and flowers.
Edge: (Part of the leaf) The verge of the leaf
Elliptic: (Type of leaf) leaf remembering to a ellipse. 2 or 3 times longer than wider.
Embrio: (Part of the seed) It is the little plant in embryonic state. When conditions are favorable (suitable humidity, warm and oxygen) it develops into a new plant.
Endocarp: (Part of the fruit) It is the inner covering , in many cases the stiffened part normally covering the seed . In a plum, for example, what we commonly know as the "stone".
Endosperm: (Part of the seed) The endosperm is the food supply contained in the seed. This is sometimes included in the cotyledons, which either achieve the function of primary leaves or food storage, even both of them in some cases.
Elongated taproot: (Type of root) They offer a very fat primary root because they accumulate food it. like in turnips.
Exocarp: (Part of the fruit) It is the outer covering of the pericarp . In an apple, for instance, it is what we know as the "skin".
Entire: (Type of leaf) a entire leaf has a smooth, individed margin.
Epigeous: (Type of germination) In germination when cotyledons are raised above ground level.
Fibrous: (Type of root) Fibrous roots do not have a primary root. They show almost the same size and width, like in grasses.
Filament: (In a flower) Part of the stament like a stick, carrying on top of it a " little bag" (anthera) loaded with pollen
Fleshy: (Type of fruit) Are those containing a more or less soft pericarp. In other words, those offering "fleshy material" around the "stone". Besides, they all derive from a single ovary.
Floret: Each one of the flowers that form an inflorescence
folicle: (Type of deshiscent fruit) Folicles are fruits with a single carpel. Being ripe, they open one side.
Fruit: The fruit is that part of a plant which is in charge of protecting the seeds and guarantee their dispersal.
Funnel-shaped or funnelform: (Type of flowers) flowers similar to funnels, very wide at the top and narrower at the base.
Fused or synsepalous: (Type of flowers) if the sepals are partially or wholly joined
Germination: (Related with seed) It is the process that produces a new seedling from the seed .
Glabrous or hairless: It is said of the plant or part of it having no hairs.
Glandular: It is said of the part of a plant having glands
Grassland : Place with herbaceous plants, like grass.
Gymnosperm: (Related with seed) Plant with seeds not inclosed in an ovary.
Gynoecium: (Part of the flower) It is the female reproductive part of the flower.
Hastate: halberd-shaped leaf. Remembering to that old fashioned weapon which was a combination between a spear and a battle-ax. Wider at the base but with lobes ending sharply.
Heather: (The heather family - ericaceae-) It includes about 200 species of plants scattered throughout the world. They are mainly bushes or little trees.
Hedge: group of bushes
Herbaceous: (Type of plant according to the stem) Herbaceous plants do not have developed ligneous stiffened structures. They are generally frail.
Hesperidium: (type of fruit) Hesperidiums are fruits containing fleshy stuff between the endocarp and the seeds. Carpels are closed. For instance, lemons or oranges
Hibiscus: (genus of plants) Shrub and trees of the Malvaceae family. Very well know because of their big flowers with very distinctive flowers, with protuding stamens polinized by humming birds.(see close-up detail) There are more that 200 species. For details about cultivation and photos consult "My garden"
Hypocotyl: (Part of the embryo in a seed) It is the space between the radicle and theplumule . It develops int a stem.
Hypogeous: (Related with seed) In germination, when the cotyledons remain below ground level.
Hypogynous: (Related with flower) The ovary is placed above the rest of the floral segments
Indehiscent: (Types of dry fruits) They are those fruits that do not open when becoming ripe, leaving their seeds inside them. We have several types of this kind of fruits but the most important are the following: achenes, nuts, caryopsis and samaras.
Inflorescence: (Related with flower) Flowers do not appear solitary in a stem. They are generally arranged in a fixed pattern we call inflorescence. Flowers included in the inflorescence are called florets
Internode: (Part of the stem) Internodes are the spaces between the nodes.
Iris: (The iris family - iridaceae -) it comprises about 1800 species of bulbous or rhizomatous plants which mainly grow in Africa, America and Mediterranean region. Because of their importance in floriculture, many of their members can be seen as cultivated species throughout the world.
Lanceolate: (Type of leaf) spear-shaped. Gradually extending at the base and lessening to the apex.
Leaflet (part of a leaf) Each one of the fragments, similar to a leaf, a compound leaf is made of.
Ligule: Related with flower) Each one of the exterior flowers of a head, similar to a tongue,
Lip: (Part of the corolla) Each one of the lobes dividing the petals.
Ligneous: (Type of stem) ligneous stems have developed rigid, stiffened structures, what we normally know as "wood".
Linear: (Type of leaf) strip-shaped leaf. Several times longer than wide. Not pointed at the apex like in the acicular type.
Lobulate: (Type of leaf) lobulate leaves have lobules. divisions that do not
arrive the center of half blade.
Mallow: (The mallow family -malvaceae -) comprises about 1000 species of plants. They are mainly herbs or little shrubs. Some of them are very important in gardening, such as genera malva or hibiscus. Many are important as medicinal flowers.
Margin or edge: (Part of the leaf) the margin is the rim or final limit of the blade
Mesocarp: (part of the fruit) It is the middle covering of the pericarp. In a peach, for example, what we ordinary call the "flesh".
Micropyle: (Part of the seed) It is a litle pore on the seed coat , through whom, apart from entering the sperm, the seed absorbs water to begin germination.
Midrib: (Part of the leaf) the central vein of a leaf.Midvein or midrib: The central vein of a leaf.
Monocotyledon or monocot: (Type of plant according to the cotyledons) Plants with one cotyledon. In this group we find so important plants a s cereals, palms, lilies, tulips or orchids.
Node: (Part of the stem) Nodes are some bulginess in the stems. Leaves grow at their level.
Nut: (type of indehescent dry fruit) Nuts are fruits with a stiffened pericarp, covered with a cupule at the base.
Oblong: (Type of leaf) leaf showing almost the same whith
Oleander: (Type of shrub) Perennial shrub of the Apocynaceae Family with lanceolate leaves and very big flowers, red or white. It leaves in the dry streams of Mediterranean climate, being very used in gardening to decorate garden hedges. Poisonous plant,
Opposite : two leaves per node, facing opposite sides of the stem
Orchid: (The Orchid family - Orchidaceae -) is the most numerous family of the flower plants . It stands for more than 25000 species worldwide. There are many kinds, some living over other plants, specially trees - ephifytes-; other are lianas or just terrestrial. Some species are saprophytes - without chlorophyll - feeding themselves from the humus they are living on.
Ovary: Part of the flower) It is the expanded inferior part of the carpel. It contains the ovules waiting to be fertilized by pollen.
Ovate: egg-shaped leaf. Wider at the base than the apex.
Palmate: The nerves of a leaf diverge from the main point such as the fingers do in the palm of the hand.
Panicle: (Type of compound inflorescences) A panicle is formed by several racemes gathered together.
Parallel-veined : the veins of a leaf run at the same distance to each other, like in canes.
Pepo : (type of fruit) Pepos are fruits that come from an inferior ovary with the outer part of the pericarp stiffened. For instance, melons or pumpkins.
Perennial: (Type of plants) it is a term appied to all these plants that live at least three seasons.
Perianth : It is the non-reproductive section of the flower.
Pericarp: (Part of the fruit) It is all that surrounds the seed. It is divided in three parts:exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp.
Perfoliate: a leaf with the blade surrounding the blade
Petiolated: (Type of leaf) we call petiolated those leaves that have a petiole.
Petal: (Part of the flower) the coloured piece of the corolla.
Petiole: (Part of the leaf) stalk that joins the blade of the leaf to the branch.
Pinnate: (type of leaf) Compound leaf with leaflets on both sides of the midrib .
Plumule: (Part of the embryo in a seed) It is like a leaf in its early development.
Pyxidiuum or pyxis: (Type of dehiscent dry fruit) Pyxydiums are capsules which open transversely.
Pollen: (Part of the flower) Male reproductive product in the anther of the stamen.
Pollination: Pollination consists in the transfer of pollen from the male part of a plant to the female part of the same plant or, much more frequently, from the male plant of a plant to the female part of another one belonging to the same species.
Pollinator: agent that performs the pollination.
Pome: (type of fruit) Pomes are fruits with soft mesocarp and a coriaceous endocarp. They become from an inferior ovary, like apples or pears.
Polydrupe: (Type of fruit) Polydrupes are aggregate fruits that combine several drupes at the same time, like in the case of blackberries.
Poppy: (The Poppy family - Papaveraceae-) It comprises about 200 species of plants mainly spread in temperate countries. Most of them are herbs with big colorful flowers. They are very important because all of them contain alkaloids therefore they are cultivated as drugs or medicinal plants.
Pea: (The pea family - leguminosae -papilionaceae) It has about 12000 species of plants growing mainly in the temperate regions. The most common species are herbs, but some of them are shrubs and trees, too.
Parasite: (Type of roots) They are stuck on another plant , sucking the nutrients from it.The mistletoe is a clear example of this type.
Peduncle: (Part of the leaf) Stalk that joins the receptacle to the stem
Pinnate: (Type of leaf) There is a main nerve in the leaf, called midrib, from which the other nerves derive, remembering a plume
Pod: (Type of dehiscent fruit) Pods derive from a single carpel, too. Differently to follicles, they open both sides.
Prickle: (Part of the plant) Thorn or pointed structured developed by plants.
Primrose: (primrose family - primulaceae-) It comprises about 1000 species of plants living in temperate countries. They are mainly herbs. some genera such as primula or cyclamen are very interesting for gardening.
Plum (fruit) It is a drupe with a fleshy mesocarp and a stone-like stiffened endocarp.
Polypetalous: (Type of flower) In a flower if the petals are not joined
Potato: Potato family (Nightshade family) - Solanaceae - comprises about 2500 species of plants spread all over the world but mainly in tropical America. They are herbs, trees and shrubs. Many of these species are very important for mankind because of their value as food Potaoes, tomatoes , peppers, etc.,), because of their alkaloid properties and as garden plants.
Raceme: (Type of inflorescence) . In a raceme the florets are attached along a floral peduncle with stems similar in length. Young florets appear above the old ones.
Radicle: (Part of the embryo in a seed) is the part of the embryo which emerges first. Once outside it develops into a taproot producing root hairs and secondary roots.
Receptacle: It is the lower structure which supports the flower. Besides protecting floral pieces, it takes care of the ovules.
Reniform: (Type of leaf) kidney-shaped leaf.
Rhizome: (Type of plant according to the stem) Rhizomes are stems that grow horizontally under the surface of the ground. From them roots are born, moving downwards into the ground and other herbaceous stems follow the opposite way searching the air. So, apart from storing food, they are a way of plant propagation. Canes would be a good example of them.
Rockrose: The Rockrose family -Cistaceae- comprises about 150 species of mainly Mediterranean plants. They are almost always bushes.
Root: (Part of the plant which usually grows up above ground) The root is an important part of the plant. It's got the following functions...
Root cap: (part of the root) It is a kind of protection the root ends with. It is designed to drill the soil and it is able to guide the root growth by perceiving gravity.
Root hairs: (Part of the root) They are minute filaments roots are covered with. They absorb water and nutrients from the soil.
Rootlet: (part of the root) The arise from the primary root.(Taproot) They are not as thick as the primary one, growing sidewards.
Rosette: (It is said of the leaves) it is a kind of leaf structure, similar to a star, near the ground like those of the dandelion
Rosulate: (Type of leaf) forming a rosette, like a ring around the stem .
Rough : (related to leaves and stems) Not smooth. somewhat unpleasant to touch.
Sclerophyllous: (Type of leaf) Showing hard, rough texture, covered with waxen substances, generally easy broken when folded.
Scrub: (Type of vegetation) Vegetation composed of bushes , shrubs and small trees.
Samara: (Type of indehescent dry fruit) a samara is a winged achene
Season: period of time related with a kind of climate and the subsequent vegetation.
Seed: (Part of the fruit) The seeds are the mature ovules from which new plants will grow.
Seed coat: (Part of the seed) It is the outer layer of the seed. It protects the seed from aggressions included those of the hervivores.
Seedling: (Related with germination of the seed) It is the young plant born from the seed .
Separated or polysepalous: (Type of flowers) if the sepals are clearly separated each other.
Sepal: (Part of the flower) Green leaf- like pieces of the calyx.
Serrate: (Type of leaf) serrate leaves have little bent teeth like those of a saw.
Sessile or stalkless: leaves which do not possess a petiole The leaf expands itself directly from the blade. Graphic example:
sheathed: (Type of leaf) Covered with a kind of sheath. This is applied to certain types of leaves having the base covered like this, as wheat.
Silique: (Type of dehiscent dry fruit) Siliques come from joined carpels than open when grow up. It is the characteristic fruit of the Cruciferae family.
Simple: (Type of leaf) A simple leaf shows an undivided blade or in case it has, they do not arrive the midrib.
Shrub: (Type of plant according to the stem) Shrubs are those plants with ligneous stems, from one to five meters tall. In this case, branching begins at soil level.
Sinuate: sinuate leaves have smooth edges, like waves.
Snapdragon: Erect plant , woody below of figwort family till 2 metres tall. Spear- shaped or oval leaves till 70 cm.Purple flowers in sticky spikes. Flowers sometimes yellowish. In old walls, rocks and dry places.
Spike: (Type of inflorescence) spikes are similar to racemes, but florets are attached directly to the floral peduncle,without stems. The flowers of the mints would be a good example of spikes.
Stalkless = Sessile: Leaves which do not possess a petiole The leaf expands itself directly from the blade.
Stamen: (Part of the flower) leaf that has suffered a transformation to carry the pollen.
(Part of the plant) It is a very important part of the plant with the
Stigma: (Part of the flower) part of the carpel it stands on top of it , designed to pick up the pollen .
Stipule: (Part of the leaf) Structure resembling little leaves at the end of the leaf stem.
Stork: (The Stork's bill family - geraniaceae -) It comprises about 700 species of plants mainly spread in temperate and subtropical countries. They are herbs and bushes, specially used in gardening, such as geraniums.
Stolon: (Type of stem) stolons are weak spreading stems, running along the surface of the ground and producing new plants from their nodes.
Stoma: (Part of the leaf) (Plural= stomata) Pore in the surface of a leave or stem, designed for plants to exchange gases.
Style: (Part of the flower) Part of the carpel . It is the connexion tube between the stygma and the ovary.
Succulent: (Type of stem) Succulent stems become very fat because of water accumulation. They use it as a reservoir for the long dry periods they have to stand. They are so well adapted to the environment that they have transformed their leaves into prickles, which besides increasing water provision, help the plant to keep herbivores out of range. Cacti are included in this group.
Sympetalous : (Type of flowers) In a flower when the petals are joined , wholly or partly.
Taproot : (part of the root) It is the thickest . It grows downwards.
Tegmen: (Part of the sead coat) It is the second layer of the seed coat in angiosperms.
Tendril: (Type of stem) They are secondary stems evolved to twist around an object, like the ones developed by the Traveller's joy
Tepal: (Part of the flower) When there is not difference between the calyx and the corolla, because all parts show the same resemblance in texture and colour, we call them tepals.
Testa: (Part of the seed coat) It is the outer layer of the seed coat in case of angiosperms , above the tegmen . In reference to gymnosperms , it is actually the seed coat. In both cases the testa protects the seed from aggressions included those of the hervivores.
Thalamus: (Part of the flower) Cup- like part of the receptacle.
Tomentose or downy: covered with soft hairs
Tree (Type of plant according to the stem) Plants with ligneous stems, with a superior height of five meters. In this case we call the stems trunks.They do not generally branch up to a considerable distance from the soil.
Trunk: (Type of stem) The ligneous stem of a tree.
Tuber: (Type of stem) Tubers are expanded stems by accumulation of food for the plant., such as the potato or the tulip bulbs.They have buds where new plants grow.
Tuberoid: (Type of root) Tuberoid roots are fibrous roots that became fat because of the accumulation of nutrients.
Tubular: (Type of flower) Flower longer than wider, in the shape of a tube.
Unripe, immature: (It is mainly said of fruits) Fruits which are not completely mature.
Umbel : (type of inflorescence). In umbels florets arise from the same point of the peduncle.
Veins: the vessels , like wrinkles or pipes running along the blade. They are really the vascular bundles coming from the stem throughout the petiole into the the surface of the blade.
Vivacious : (Type of plant acording to the stem) Vivacious plants have aerial stems lasting a single season, but keeping underground structures from which new stems spring again next season.
Water root (Type of roots) Water roots are those those living in the water.
Weed: (Type of plant according to the stem) Herbaceous undesirable anual plants.
Willow (Willow family herb family - onagraceae -) It comprises about 700 species of annual or perennial plants that live throughout the world. They are mainly herbs, but we also find trees and shrubs. Some genera such as Fuchsia or Oenothera are very valuable in gardening.
Winged: It is generally said of the stems . Showing side expansions like wings. Many of thistles , for instance, have winged stems.
Woody, ligneous: It is said of the vegetable part bearing the texture of wood.
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