Mapping Species Distributions

E-FLORA BC GLOSSARY OF BOTANICAL TERMS


Fragrant water-lily (Nymphaea odorata), photo by Bill Jex

Thanks to the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management for provision of the 8 volume Illustrated Flora of British Columbia (Douglas, Meidinger and Pojar, 1998-2002) and associated glossary of botanical terms.    Please refer to the BC Conservation Data Centre publications web page for the complete citation for each volume.  The glossary provided below is modified from the above.

 

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P R S T U V W

A

Abaxial -- On the side of a structure turned away from the main axis.
Acerose -- With a needle-like tip, "needle-pointed".
Achene -- A dry, single-seeded fruit that does not open at maturity.
Acicular -- Shaped like the needle of a pine tree "needle-like".
Acorn -- The fruit of the oak (Quercus); composed of a nut and its cup or cupule.
Acuminate -- Tapering to a narrow tip or concave point, the sides generally concavely narrowing, "long-pointed".
Acuminate -- Tapering to a narrow tip or concave point, the sides generally concavely narrowing.
Acute -- Gradually tapering to a point, the sides straight (i.e., not convex).
Adaxial -- On the side of a structure, turned toward the main axis.
Adnate -- Fusion or attachment of unlike parts (e.g., the calyx and corolla).
Adventitious -- Development of structures in unusual locations; in the case of roots, generally refers to the development of roots from the stem or leaf.
Alternate -- Any arrangement of leaves or other parts not opposite or whorled; arranged singly at different heights on the stem.
Ament -- A pendulous spikelike inflorescence with apetalous, unisexual flowers; a catkin.
Amphiberingian -- Occurring on both sides of the Bering Strait; a phytogeographic element resulting from past migration across the Bering Land Bridge.
Amplexicaul -- Clasping the stem.
Androecium -- A collective term referring to male floral parts, that is, the stamens.
Androgynous -- A spike bearing staminate (male) and pistillate (female) flowers where the staminate flowers are positioned above the pistillate flowers, closer to the apex of the inflorescence.
Annual -- Living for only one growing season.
Anther -- The pollen producing sac of the stamen.
Anthesis -- The period of time when a flower is fully open, "flowering time".
Anthocyanic -- Of the character of anthocyanins, water-soluble pigments ranging in colour from blue or violet through purple to crimson.
Apetalous -- Without petals.
Apex -- Tip, point or end.
Aphyllopodic -- Having lower leaves that are bladeless or reduced to scales (e.g., Carex spp.).
Apical -- Located at the apex.
Apiculate -- "Abruptly sharp-pointed".
Apomictic -- Capable of reproducing asexually.
Apomixis -- Any of several types of asexual reproduction.
Aquatic -- Living in water.
Arachnoid -- Covered with long, delicate, tangled hairs; resembling a cobweb.
Arcuate -- Curved.
Areoles -- Small, clearly marked, round areas appearing on the leaves of Opuntia.
Aril -- An appendage or outer covering of a seed, growing out from the hilum or funiculus; sometimes it appears as a pulpy covering.
Aristate -- Tipped with stiff awns or bristles; "stiff-awned or stiff-bristled".
Armed -- Possessing prickles, spines, or thorns.
Articulate -- Jointed; separating at a joint, by a clean cut scar, upon maturity.
Attenuate -- Gradually tapering to a slender base or tip, "long-pointed".
Auct. non -- Indicates that a species name is used commonly in the literature but is incorrect and is not the name used to refer to the type specimen.
Auricle -- An ear-shaped lobe or appendage.
Auriculate -- With auricles; often used to describe the base of a leaf blade where there is an auricle on either side of the petiole; with "earlike lobes".
Awn -- A slender bristlelike appendage, usually at the apex of a structure.
Axil -- The angle between a structure and the axis to which it is attached (e.g., the angle between a leaf and the stem).
Axile placentation -- A pattern of placentation where the ovules are attached to the partitions of a compound pistil near the center of the ovary.
Axillary -- Used in reference to structures attached in the axil or juncture of stem and leaf stalks.

B

Banner -- The largest upper petal of a papilionaceous flower.
Barb -- A short, firm, reflexed process.
Barbellate -- Minutely or "finely-barbed"; bearing stiff hairs with barbs.
Basal -- At, or forming, the base.
Beak -- A long, slender projection on a broader structure such as a fruit or seed.
Bi -- A prefix meaning two or twice.
Bidentate -- With two teeth, "2-cleft".
Biennial -- Living for two seasons.
Bilabiate -- Two-lipped; often with reference to a zygomorphic flower.
Bipinnate -- See bipinnatifid.
Bipinnatifid -- Twice branched.
Biseriate -- Arranged in two rows, doubly serrated.
Bisexual -- Bearing both male and female reproductive structures.
Biternate -- Two groups of three.
Bloom -- See glaucous.
Bract -- A modified leaf, reduced in size or form, that is associated with a flower or an inflorescence; in conifers, a main appendage arising from the axis of a cone.
Bractlet -- A small or secondary bract (syn. bracteole).
Bristle -- A stiff, hairlike structure.
Bristly -- With bristles.
Bulb -- A small, stout underground stem bearing modified (scalelike) leaves and fibrous basal roots; generally food storage organs.
Bulbiferous -- Producing bulbs.
Bulbil -- A small bulb produced above the ground, often on the flowering stem.

C

Caducous -- Falling off the plant early relative to other similar structures.
Caespitose -- Growing in dense, low-lying clumps, "tufted".
Calcareous -- Rich in calcium carbonate.
Callose -- Bearing callosities.
Callosity -- See callus.
Callus -- A hard or firm thickening of a structure; in grasses, the thick, hardened basal portion of the lemma.
Calyx -- A collective name referring to the sepals, the outer whorl of the perianth.
Campanulate -- "Bell-shaped" to saucer-shaped.
Canaliculate -- With a channel or a groove, "grooved".
Cane -- In Rubus spp., woody shoots that arise each year.
Canescent -- Appearing white or gray due to very short, fine hairs.
Capillary -- Very slender and "hairlike".
Capitate -- In a "headlike" cluster.
Capsule -- A dry, dehiscent fruit comprised of more than 1 carpel; method of splitting further classifies the capsule type (e.g., circumscissile, septicidal, etc.).
Carinate -- "Keeled".
Carpel -- The basic unit of a pistil, a modified seed bearing leaf.
Caruncle -- An often fleshy appendage at or near the attachment point (hilum) of some seeds.
Caryopsis -- The dry, 1-seeded fruit found in grasses.
Catkin -- See ament.
Caudate -- Bearing a terminal, long and slender appendage like a tail.
Caudex -- The woody, thickened and persistent basal portion of a herbaceous perennial that gives rise to leaves and flowering stems each year, i.e. "stem-base".
Caulescent -- Having an obvious leafy stem.
Cauline -- Of, or pertaining to, the stem, i.e. "stem leaves".
Cellular -- A term used in reference to the cell-shaped network of minutely raised and lignified ridges on epidermis (e.g., on the culm of some Carex spp.).
Chaffy -- With thin dry scales or bracts; "papery", "papery-bracted".
Channeled -- Folded or with 1 or more deep grooves.
Chartaceous -- Having the texture of stiff paper or parchment; "firm-papery", thickly membranous.
Ciliate -- Leaves fringed on the margins, with fine hairs (cilia), "fringed".
Ciliolate -- Ciliate but with smaller hairs.
Cinereous -- Ash-coloured or light grey, sometimes somewhat bluish, usually due to short hairs.
Circumboreal -- Distributed at the top or the bottom of the world in the boreal zone.
Circumpolar -- Distributed around the North or the South Pole.
Circumscissile -- A capsule that dehisces transversely in a circular line, like the opening of a lid.
Clavate -- "Club-shaped", the wider portion at the apex.
Claw -- The narrowed, basal portion of some petals or sepals.
Cleft -- Usually applied to leaf margins and sinuses cut sharply and about half-way to the midrib or base; deeply lobed.
Cleistogamous -- Of flowers, small, closed, self-fertilized.
Cleistogenes -- Plants which bear cleistogamous flowers.
Collar -- In grasses, the band on the outside area of the leaf at the point where the leaf blade and the sheath converge.
Coma -- A tuft of hair usually at the apex of structures like seeds.
Compound -- With 2 or more parts or components.
Confluent -- Structures merging into one; fusing at the bases.
Conic -- Cone-shaped; "conelike".
Connate -- Union or attachment of like parts (e.g., petals), "fused".
Connivent -- Convergent but not fused.
Convolute -- The arrangement of petals or sepals such that each petal or sepal has 1 edge exposed while the other is covered; in grasses, a leaf that is rolled longitudinally so that 1 edge is inside the other.
Cordate -- Shaped like a heart, with the notch at the base; "heart-shaped".
Coriaceous -- Having a thick and leathery texture, "leathery".
Corm -- A thickened, underground stem with papery leaves; a storage organ.
Corniculate -- Bearing small horns.
Corolla -- The collective term describing the petals of a flower.
Corymb -- A flat-topped, indeterminant inflorescence where pedicels of florets are progressively shorter towards the center of the inflorescence; may be simple or compound.
Corymb -- A flat-topped, indeterminate inflorescence where pedicels of florets are progressively shorter towards the center of the inflorescence; may be simple or compound.
Corymbose -- A flat or convex-topped inflorescence; resembling a corymb.
Costa -- A prominent rib or vein.
Cotyledon -- The first functional leaf of a seedling.
Crenate -- Toothed with rounded, broad teeth, "round-toothed".
Crenulate -- Crenate but with smaller teeth.
Crown -- The persistent basal portion of a perennial plant (e.g., grass), or the leafy portion of a tree; any appendage situated between the corolla and the stamens.
Cruciform -- Having the shape of a cross, "cross-shaped".
Cucullate -- Hooded or "hood-shaped".
Culm -- The flowering stem of grasses, sedges and rushes.
Cuneate -- Triangular or "wedge-shaped" with the acute angle at attachment point.
Cupulate -- Cup-shaped; "cuplike".
Cuspidate -- Bearing a short, rigid and sharp point, usually in reference to the apex of a leaf, "awl-tipped".
Cyme -- An inflorescence in which all floral axes terminate in a single flower with the terminal flower, at the apex of the inflorescence, blooming first.
Cymose -- Bearing cymes, or cyme-like.

D

Deciduous -- Seasonal shedding of leaves or other structures after the growth period.
Decumbent -- Lying on the ground with the end curved upward.
Decurrent -- A structure adnate or confluent to the stem near its insertion point, with an adnate wing or margin extending down the stem or axis below the point of insertion.
Definite -- Distinct; precise.
Deflexed -- Bent downward or backward.
Dehiscent -- Discharge of contents by the opening of pores or slits, most often pertaining to the opening of fruit at maturity.
Deltoid -- Shaped like an equilateral triangle.
Dentate -- With sharp, spreading teeth, "sharp-toothed".
Determinate -- An inflorescence with the terminal or central flower developing first so that the inflorescence does not continue to grow in length.
Determinate -- An inflorescence with the terminal or central flower developing first.
Dichotomous -- Forked with both branches of approximately equal size.
Didymous -- Occurring or developing in pairs.
Digitate -- Handlike.
Dimorphic -- Having two forms.
Dioecious -- Male and female reproductive structures borne on different plants.
Disarticulate -- The separation of structures at maturity.
Disciform -- With the form of a disk; in the Asteraceae, with the central flowers of a head perfect (or func tionally staminate) andthe marginal flowers pistillate but without a ligule.
Discoid -- Resembling a disk; in the Asteraceae, with the flowers of a head all tubular and perfect (or functionally staminate).
Disk corolla (disk flower) -- Tubular corolla or flower of some members of the Asteraceae.
Dissected -- Divided into many small, fine and often repeated parts or segments.
Distal -- Denoting the region furthest away from the organ’s point of attachment.
Distichous -- With parts on opposite sides of the stem in the same plane, "2-ranked".
Divaricate -- "Widely spreading".
Dorsal -- Pertaining to, or located on, the back of an organ.
Drupe -- A fleshy, 1-seeded or 1-stoned fruit of some plants of the rose family (e.g., cherries, peaches).
Dystrophic -- A water body turning brown with suspended organic material and having a high carbon to nitrogen ratio of 10:1 or greater.

E

Elliptic -- Shaped like an ellipse, the broadest point midway between the ends, and the width about one half the length.
Emarginate -- Having a shallow notch at the apex, usually with reference to a leaf or petal.
Emarginate -- Having a shallow notch at the tips, usually with reference to a leaf or petal.
Endocarp -- The innermost layer of the three layers comprising the mature ovary wall of a fruit.
Entire -- A continuous margin, without teeth or divisions.
Epigaeous -- Growing above ground.
Epiphytic -- A plant that grows on another plant but does not receive nourishment from it.
Equitant -- With alternate leaves whose basal portions overlap and are flattened lengthwise (e.g., Iris).
Erose -- An irregular margin, appearing eroded or gnawed, not fringed or toothed.
Ex -- With respect to plant authorities, indicates that the first author proposed the name for a plant and the second author published that name.
Excurrent -- Extending beyond the margin or tip, as a midrib developing into a mucro or awn; with a continuing central axis from which lateral branches arise.
Exfoliate -- To peel off in shreds, thin layers or plates, as bark from a tree trunk.
Exserted -- Projecting beyond a surrounding structure, like stamens projecting beyond a corolla.
Extravaginal -- Located outside the sheath that surrounds another organ.

F

Falcate -- Curved sideways and tapering, "sickle-shaped".
Farinose -- Covered with a white mealy substance.
Fascicle -- A cluster.
Ferruginous -- Rust in colour.
Fibril -- Short, threadlike hair.
Filament -- The slender stalk of the stamen that supports the anther.
Filiform -- "Threadlike", slender and cylindrical.
Fimbriate -- Fringed with hairs coarser than cilia.
Fistulose -- Hollow.
Flabellate -- "Fan-shaped".
Flabelliform -- See flabellate.
Flexuous -- Bent in opposite directions; having a more or less zig-zag or wavy form.
Floccose -- Covered with tufts of soft woolly hairs that usually rub off readily.
Flora --  a collective term for plant life, the plant species found in a region
Floret -- A small flower, particularly 1 in a floral cluster; pertains also to the flower of a grass spikelet which includes the lemma, palea and reproductive structures.
Floret -- A small flower, particularly one in a floral cluster; pertains also to the flower of a grass spikelet which includes the lemma, palea and reproductive structures.
Foliaceous -- "Leaflike".
Follicle -- A dry, dehiscent fruit composed of one carpel that splits at the side upon maturing to release its seeds.
Fornix (pl. fornices) -- A small, scale like or petaloid appendage in the tube or throat of the corolla.
Free central placentation -- A pattern of placentation where the ovules are borne on a single stalk, which is anchored at the base of a 1-celled ovary.
Frond -- The leaf of a fern.
Fruit -- The ripened ovary and any other structures that enclose it.
Funnelform -- "Funnel-shaped," usually pertaining to the corolla.
Fusiform -- "Spindle-shaped," broadest at the middle and tapering to opposite ends.

G

Galea -- The hooded portion of the perianth in some irregular or bilabiate flowers (e.g., as in Castilleja).
Galea -- The hooded portion of the perianth in some irregular or bilabiate flowers.
Gametophyte -- The sexual reproductive stage of a plant that produces gametes; in ferns it is often the small inconspicuous form of the plant.
Gamopetalous -- Flowers which are fused to any degree.
Geminate -- "In pairs".
Gemma (pl. gemmae) -- A young bud from which plants vegetatively reproduce.
Geniculate -- Abruptly bent.
Gibbous -- Swollen on one side.
Glabrate -- "Nearly smooth," or becoming smooth, usually with age.
Glabrescent -- See glabrate.
Glabrous -- "Smooth," without hairs or glands.
Gland -- A spot or structure that produces a sticky or greasy substance.
Glandular -- Having glands.
Glandular-pubescent -- With gland-tipped hairs, "glandular-tipped".
Glaucous -- Covered with a whitish or bluish waxy powder that readily rubs off, with a bloom.
Globose -- Spherical.
Glochidia -- Retrorsely barbed hairs.
Glomerate -- Aggregated or condensed into heads.
Glomerule -- A dense cluster, usually of flowers.
Glumes -- The two small bracts located at the base of a grass spikelet; they do not subtend flowers.
Glutinous -- Covered with a sticky, glue-like resin.
Gynaecandrous -- A spike bearing staminate (male) and pistillate (female) flowers where the staminate flowers are positioned below the pistillate flowers, thus the pistillate flowers are closest to the spike apex.

H

Hastate -- Shaped like the head of an arrow with the basal lobes flaring outward, "arrowhead-shaped".
Head -- A dense indeterminant inflorescence of sessile (or nearly sessile) flowers, situated on an axis that is much compressed vertically and sometimes flattened or saucer-shaped.
Hemispheric -- In reference to a head, with a half-sphere shape.
Herb -- Plant with stem that dies back to the ground after flowering or at the end of the growing season.
Herbaceous -- A non-woody plant.
Heterophyllus -- Having two types of leaves.
Heterosporous -- Producing of two different types of spores, generally differing in size.
Hirsute -- Covered with long, stiff and coarse hairs, "stiff-hairy".
Hirtellous -- Minutely hirsute.
Hispid -- Bearing long, rigid and very sharp bristles or "bristlelike" hairs.
Hispidulous -- Slightly hispid.
Hoary -- Covered with short and fine white or grey hairs.
Homophyllous -- With leaves that are all identical or very similar in form.
Homosporous -- Production of one type of spore.
Hyaline -- Thin, almost completely transparent tissue, translucent, "wax papery".
Hybrid -- A cross between 2 taxa, usually a cross between 2 species of the same genus.
Hypanthium -- A cup-like structure surrounding the ovary, formed by the fusion of the basal portions of the calyx, corolla and androecium.

I

Imbricate -- Partly overlapping in a spiral manner, shingle-like, "graduated".
Imperfect -- Flowers lacking either female or male reproductive structures, a unisexual flower.
In -- With respect to plant authorities, indicates that the first author described the plant in an article edited or published by the second author.
Incised -- Cut sharply, deeply and irregularly, as in leaf margins.
Indehiscent -- Remaining closed at maturity, not splitting.
Indeterminate -- An inflorescence with the terminal or central flower developing last thus allowing the inflorescence to continue growing.
Indument -- Appendages or outgrowths from the epidermis of a plant, a collective term, of hairs or scales.
Indurate -- Hard or stiff.
Indusium (pl. indusia) -- A scale-like outgrowth that covers and protects the cluster of sporangia located on the underside of a fern frond.
Inferior (ovary) -- When the perianth and androecium are fused at the top of the ovary wall, the ovary position is described as inferior.
Inflorescence -- The flowering cluster, categorized by the arrangement of flowers on the floral axis.
Intergradients -- Taxa that interbreed and consequently share many characteristics making it difficult to separate them taxonomically.
Internode -- The section of a stem or another structure between 2 nodes.
Interrupted -- Discontinuous, with gaps.
Involucre -- A rosette of bracts subtending an inflorescence or head.
Involute -- Margins longitudinally in-rolled, on the upper side, toward the center.
Irregular -- Pertaining to a flower in which similar parts (e.g., petals) are unequal in shape and size (syn. zygomorphic).

K

Keel -- In a papilionaceous flower, the 2 lowermost connate petals; resembles the keel of a boat; in grasses, the sharp crease or ridge of the leaf blades, the lemma or the glume.

L

Lacerate -- With an irregular or jagged margin, as if torn.
Lamina -- The flattened portion (i.e., the blade) of a leaf or petal.
Lanate -- Woolly, with long intertwined, curly hairs.
Lanceolate -- "Lance-shaped"; longer than broad, widening above the base and tapering to the apex.
Leaflet -- One of the segments or divisions of a compound leaf.
Lemma -- The outermost of the two bracts that subtend the grass floret (See palea).
Lenticular -- Biconvex in shape, "lens-shaped".
Ligulate -- With a ligule.
Ligule -- Flattened part of the ray corolla in the Asteraceae; in many grasses and some sedges and rushes, a membranous (or hair-like) appendage on the inner side of the leaf at the junction of the leaf blade and the sheath.
Linear -- Long and narrow, with parallel margins.
Locule -- A compartment in the ovule or anther.
Lodicule -- One of 2 or 3 scales appressed to the base of the ovary (Poaceae)
Lunate -- Crescent-shaped.
Lustrous -- Shiny.
Lyrate -- Pinnatifid with the end lobe enlarged and rounded.

M

Maculate -- "Spotted".
Malpighiaceous -- Hairs attached to a surface by their centers.
Maritime -- Near to, or influenced by, the sea.
Megasporangia -- The sporangia of a heterosporous plant that produces megaspores.
Megaspore -- On a heterosporous plant, the larger of 2 spore sizes produced; a spore involved in development of female reproductive organs.
Megaspore -- On a heterosporous plant, the larger of two spore sizes produced; a spore involved in development of female reproductive organs.
Membranaceous -- Of parchmentlike texture.
Membranous -- Of parchmentlike texture.
Mericarp -- One portion of the fruit (e.g., a schizocarp) that splits into two halves at maturity, found in members of the Apiaceae and the Haloragaceae.
Merous -- A suffix referring to the division of floral parts, e.g., a 3-merous flower would have 3 petals, 3 sepals, 3 stamens, and a pistil with 3 carpels.
Mesic -- Relating to habitats with a moderate or average amount of moisture.
Microsporangia -- The sporangia of a heterosporous plant that produces microspores.
Microspore -- On a heterosporous plant, the smaller of two spore sizes produced; a spore involved in the development of male reproductive organs.
Monoecious -- Male and female reproductive structures borne on the same plant.
Mottled -- Marked with spots or blotches.
Mucro -- A small, short and abrupt point.
Mucronate -- Having a mucro or abrupt, short projection on the midrib at the leaf tip, "abruptly slender-tipped".
Mucronate -- Having mucro or abrupt, short projection on the mid-vein at the leaf tip.
Muricate -- Roughened with short, firm and sharp projections.

N

Naked -- Lacking various organs, hairs or appendages.
Naturalized -- A well established plant originating from another area.
Neutral -- In reference to a flower lacking functional stamens and pistils.
Nodding -- Curving to one side; minutely pendulous.
Node -- The location on a stem where stems or leaves usually originate, generally a swollen area, other structures like tendrils and flowers may also originate here.
Nodulose -- More or less knobby, diminutive of nodose, especially for describing roots.
Nom. superfl. -- A plant name that has been superceded by a valid name; a superfluous name.
Nut -- A hard, indehiscent fruit, with 1 seed.
Nutlet -- A small nut; also used when referring to each lobe of the 4-lobed nuts found in Boraginaceae.

O

Ob -- A prefix meaning in the reverse of the typical direction.
Obconical -- Conical in shape with attachment point at the narrow end of the cone.
Obcordate -- Having an inverted heart shape, "heart-shaped".
Oblanceolate -- Reverse of lanceolate, widest above the middle and tapering to the base.
Oblong -- Much longer than wide with parallel or nearly parallel sides.
Obovate -- The reverse of ovate; attached at the narrow end, "egg-shaped".
Obpyramidal -- Having the shape of an inverted pyramid.
Obsolete -- Reduced to the point of being entirely, or almost, undetectable.
Obtuse -- Blunt, rounded.
Ochroleucous -- Yellowish-white to buff or cream-colored.
Oligotrophic -- A water body low in nutrients.
Olivaceous -- Olive-like in colour.
Operculate -- Provided with an operculum; a little lid, the deciduous cap of a circumcissile fruit, or a fruit that dehisces along the circumference near the apex.
Orbicular -- Having a circular outline.
Ovary -- The enlarged base of the pistil that contains the developing seeds, matures into the fruit.
Ovate -- Shaped like a hen’s egg, attached at the broader end, "egg-shaped". Term applied to plane surfaces.
Ovoid -- Shaped like a hen’s egg, "egg-shaped". Term applied to solid objects.
Ovule -- A young or undeveloped seed.

P

Palea -- The innermost of the 2 bracts that subtend the floret in grasses (see lemma).
Palmate -- Lobed or divided in a palm- or hand-like fashion, digitate.
Panicle -- A branching inflorescence on which younger flowers are borne at the apex.
Paniculate -- Resembling a panicle.
Paniculiform -- Resembling a panicle.
Papilionaceous flower -- A strongly irregular flower with five petals, the lowermost 2 petals are connate (fused) and form the keel, as in Fabaceae.
Papillate -- Covered with small minute rounded protuberances (papillae) "pimpled".
Pappus -- The modified outer perianth series crowning the ovary and achene in the Asteraceae; usually plumose, bristle-like, or of scales.
Parietal placentation -- A pattern of placentation, in compound pistils only, where ovules are attached to the outer wall of the carpel.
Patent -- Spreading or opening widely.
Pectinate -- "Comb-like", pinnately lobed with narrow segments arranged like the teeth of a comb.
Pedicel -- The "stalk" of a single flower in an inflorescence, or of a spikelet in grasses.
Pedicellate -- Having a pedicel, "stalked".
Peduncle -- The single supporting stalk of a flower or inflorescence.
Peltate -- An umbrella-shaped leaf whose attachment point is on the underside of the leaf rather than at the base or margin, "umbrella-like".
Pendulous -- Hanging or drooping.
Perennial -- Growing for more than two seasons.
Perfect -- A flower that has functional stamens and pistils.
Perfoliate -- Bearing opposite leaves whose bases are wrapped around the stem and connate, giving the appearance that the stem passes through the leaf.
Perianth -- A collective term for the calyx and corolla.
Perigynium -- A "pouched" bract surrounding the pistil or achene in Carex spp.
Persistent -- Remaining attached.
Petiole -- Leaf stalk.
Phenotypic plasticity -- Ability to adapt, morphologically, to changing environmental conditions.
Phyllode -- A somewhat expanded but bladeless petiole taking on the function of a leaf.
Phyllopodic -- Having well developed lower leaves instead of scales.
Piliform -- Having the shape of a long, sometimes wavy, hair.
Pilose -- Shaggy with soft hairs, "soft hairy".
Pinna (pl. pinnae) -- One of the primary divisions of a pinnately compound leaf or frond.
Pinnate -- Compound leaf with the leaflets on both sides of an elongated axis.
Pinnatifid -- Pinnately lobed.
Pinnule -- A secondary leaflet in a bipinnately compound leaf.
Pistillate -- Flowers possessing pistils, but no functional stamens (i.e., a female flower).
Pith -- The spongy tissue in the center of a root or stem that surrounds vascular bundles.
Placentation -- The pattern of attachment of ovules in the ovary. See axile, parietal or free central placentation.
Plumose -- "Feather-like".
Pod -- Any type of dry, dehiscent fruit.
Pollen -- A general term pertaining to the haploid (n) microspores produced in the anther.
Polypetalous -- Flowers with all petals distinct, not united.
Polyploidy -- Two or more sets of chromosomes (e.g., 3n, 4n, 8n).
Prehensile -- Grasping.
Prickle -- Small, sharp outgrowth from epidermis, contains no vascular tissue.
Prismatic -- Prism-shaped.
Pro parte -- In part.
Pro parte sed non typus -- Resembles, in part, but not completely the type specimen; possessing some but not all characteristics of the type specimen.
Procumbent -- Prostrate or trailing stem, does not usually root at nodes.
Proliferous -- Rooting from apical bulbil (a small bulb produced above the ground, often on the flowering stem).
Propagule -- Any part of a plant capable of growing into a new organism; e.g., seed, spore, gemma, cutting.
Prostrate -- Lying flat on the ground, may root at the nodes.
Proximal -- Denoting the region nearest to the organ’s point of attachment.
Pruinose -- See glaucous.
Puberulent -- Bearing very short, loose or erect hairs, scarcely visible to the unaided eye, minutely pubescent, "short-hairy".
Pubescent -- "Hairy".
Pulverulent -- Dusty, powdery.
Pulvinus -- Swollen tissue at the insertion point of the leaf petiole, or sometimes at a joint or a minute gland.
Punctate -- Marked with pits or dots formed by glands or waxy spots, "pitted".
Puncticulate -- Minutely punctate.
Pustulose -- More or less with little blisters or pustules, "minutely blistery".
Pyriform -- Pear-shaped.

R

Raceme -- An indeterminant, elongated inflorescence where single flowers are borne on pedicels arranged on a single axis; the youngest flowers are at the apex.
Racemiform -- Possessing the form of a raceme.
Rachilla -- The axis of a spikelet in grasses, refers to a secondary axis in sedges.
Rachis -- The main stalk of an inflorescence or compound leaf, the "axis of inflorescence".
Radiate -- In the Asteraceae, "heads with ray and disk flowers".
Ray (flower) -- Strap-shaped corolla (ligule), as in the Asteraceae.
Receptacle -- The expanded end of the stem on which floral parts are borne.
Reclining -- Lying on the ground or one plant pressed on another.
Reflexed -- Bent sharply downward or backward.
Regular (flowers) -- A flower with radial symmetry; petals and sepals that are similar in shape, size, colour and orientation.
Reniform -- "Kidney-shaped".
Resinous -- Covered with a resin.
Reticulate -- Forming a network, netted like the veins of a leaf, "net-veined".
Retrorse -- Directed backward or downward.
Retuse -- See emarginate.
Revolute -- Leaf margins rolled toward the underside of the leaf.
Rhizome -- A creeping, underground stem or rootstalk that roots at the nodes.
Rhombic -- "Diamond-shaped".
Rib -- A prominent vein, usually on a leaf.
Root -- The descending axis of a plant that anchors and absorbs moisture from the ground, lacks nodes and internodes.
Rootstock -- Used loosely to mean a main root or an underground root-like stem or branch.
Rosette -- A dense cluster of flowers or leaves radiating around a central axis, usually basal in the case of leaves.
Rosulate -- In the form of a rosette.
Rotate -- A saucer-shaped corolla where the corolla tube is short and petals are generally reflexed.
Rotund -- Rounded.
Rudimentary -- Usually a small, imperfectly developed structure, generally reminiscent of an earlier evolutionary stage.
Rufous -- "Reddish-brown".
Rugose -- Possessing a "wrinkled" surface.
Rugulose -- Slightly rugose.

S

Saccate -- Shaped like a sac or pouch.
Sagittate -- Shaped like the head of an arrow, triangular with the basal lobes pointing backward, "arrowhead-shaped".
Salverform -- A corolla having a long slender tube that flares abruptly at the end.
Samara -- A winged, indehiscent fruit.
Samaroid -- Resembling a samara.
Saprophytic -- A plant that derives its nutrients from dead organic matter and lacks the chlorophyll that gives most plants their green color.
Scaberulous -- "More or less rough".
Scabrid -- See scabrous.
Scabridulous -- "Minutely rough".
Scabrous -- Having a roughened surface caused by very short stiff hairs or short sharp projections, "rough short-hairy".
Scabrule -- A stiff pointed projection or a short stiff hair.
Scale -- A small, flat structure resembling the scale of a fish.
Scapose -- Bearing a scape.
Scarious -- Having chaffy, membranous, brown or "wax-papery" edges.
Scrambling -- Slightly reclining.
Scree -- Relatively small broken rock material characteristic of alpine areas, usually a result of freeze-thaw cycles.
Secund -- Having all flowers or branches borne on one side of the axis.
Semi-aquatic -- A plant that may tolerate partial submersion in water or a plant that roots in the soil but produces aquatic leaves.
Senescent -- The process of becoming old.
Sensu lato -- In the broad sense.
Sepals -- The outermost whorl of floral leaves, also called the calyx and is usually green in color.
Septate -- (Nodulose), transversely wrinkled at regular intervals, "cross-wrinkled".
Septum -- A partition; in an ovary, a partition formed of the fused walls of adjacent carpels.
Seriate -- In a series of rows.
Sericeous -- A surface with long, soft, appressed hairs, giving a silky appearance and texture, "silky-hairy".
Serrate -- "Sharp-toothed"; like a saw edge.
Serrulate -- A leaf margin with small serrated teeth.
Sessile -- Without a stalk, "unstalked".
Seta (pl. setae) -- A bristle.
Setaceous -- Bristlelike.
Setose -- Bearing setae or bristles.
Sheath -- A thin tubular organ that partially or wholly surrounds another organ; in grasses, the basal portion of the leaf blade that wraps around the stem.
Shrub -- A woody perennial plant, less than 10 m tall, with several basal stems.
Silicle -- A dry fruit of plants in the Brassicaceae generally not more than two times longer than wide which opens along the edges leaving the seeds attached to a central partition.
Silique -- A long slender fruit of the Brassicaceae family which splits open along the edges leaving seed attached to a central partition.
Simple -- A leaf not compounded into leaflets, or an unbranched inflorescence.
Sinuate -- A pronouncedly waved leaf margin, "wavy".
Sinus -- "Notch", a cavity or a depression between two adjacent structures (e.g., the space between two lobes of a leaf).
Smooth -- Without hairs of any type.
Sordid -- "Dirty tinged".
Sorus (pl. sori) -- A cluster of spore producing structures (sporangia) on the underside of a fern frond.
Spadix -- A spike with small, densely crowded, unisexual flowers on a thick and fleshy axis, the inflorescence is subtended by a spathe.
Spathe -- A large bract surrounding a spadix.
Spatulate -- Broad and rounded at the apex; narrowing to the base, "spoon-shaped".
Spatulate -- Broad and rounded at the tips; narrowing to the base, "spoon-shaped".
Spiciform -- An inflorescence resembling a spike, "spike-like".
Spike -- An unbranched inflorescence; flowers are sessile.
Spikelet -- A small spike; in grasses, the primary inflorescence composed of two glumes and one or more florets.
Sporangia -- Spore producing structures.
Sporangium -- Reproductive structure of ferns that produces spores.
Spore -- A haploid (n) reproductive cell.
Sporocarp -- The structure that contains the sporangia in ferns.
Sporophore -- A leaf bearing reproductive structures; generally used in reference to the spore bearing leaves of ferns.
Sporophyll -- A modified leaf bearing sporangia.
Sporophyte -- The generation in the reproductive cycle of plants that produces spores; in ferns generally refers to the conspicuous form of the plant (See gametophyte).
Spur -- A slender and hollow floral appendage, generally nectariferous.
Squamiform -- "Scalelike".
Squarrose -- Having parts, generally at the tip of a structure, that are abruptly curving and spreading.
Stamen -- The male sex organ of a plant constructed of an anther and a filament, the anther produces pollen.
Staminode (pl. staminodia) -- A sterile, sometimes modified stamen (syn. staminodium).
Stellate -- "Star-shaped"; having many rays radiating out from a common center.
Steppe -- An extensive area of dry, arid grassland.
Sterile -- Infertile flowers.
Stigma -- The generally expanded, apical portion of the pistil which is receptive to pollen.
Stipe -- A stalk supporting the pistil; also the petiole of the frond of a fern.
Stipitate -- Borne on a stipe or short stalk, "short-stalked".
Stipule -- An appendage that maybe present on each side of the base of a leaf or petiole at its insertion point on the stem.
Stolon -- An elongate, creeping, above-ground horizontal stem that roots at the nodes or at the tips.
Stramineous -- Having the color of straw, "straw-colored".
Striate -- With fine longitudinal lines, channels or ridges.
Strigillose -- Like strigose but with shorter hairs, "short appressed-hairy".
Strigose -- A surface having sharp, appressed and straight hairs that are stiff and often basally swollen, "appressed hairy".
Style -- A generally elongated stalk connecting the ovary and the stigma through which the pollen tube grows.
Styliform -- Resembling a long slender stalk, like a style.
Stylopodium -- A disk-like enlargement at the base of the style.
Sub -- A prefix signifying below, somewhat, slightly or rather.
Subspecies (ssp.) -- A category of biological classification ranking immediately below the species level.
Subtend -- To be positioned directly or closely beneath something.
Subulate -- Narrowly triangular and tapering to a small point like an awl, "awl-like".
Succulent -- Fleshy, having a soft and thickened texture.
Sulcate -- Longitudinally grooved or furrowed.
Superior ovary -- An ovary which is attached to the summit or center of the receptacle and is free from all other flower parts.
Sympatric -- Occurring in the same geographic area.
Sympodial -- Having an apparent main or central axis that is actually comprised of several short overlapping branches.
Synonym -- An equivalent superseded name, a second name to a given taxon.

T

Talus -- An accumulation of rock material on or at the base of a slope, larger material than scree.
Taproot -- An underground tapering root from which smaller lateral roots may form (may be thick or thin).
Tendril -- A long, slender, generally twisting structure from which a climbing plant acquires its support.
Tepals -- A collective term applied to petals and sepals when they are morphologically identical.
Terete -- A structure that is circular in cross section but imperfectly cylindrical since the object may taper 1 or both ways.
Ternate -- Arranged in groups of three.
Tetrad -- In groups of four.
Tetraploid -- Four sets of chromosomes (4n).
Thyrse -- An elongated and densely flowered panicle, often contracted and pyramidal in shape.
Thyrsoid -- Resembling a thyrse.
Tomentose -- Densely pubescent with soft, matted wool-like hairs, "woolly-hairy", "woolly".
Tomentulose -- Slightly or finely tomentose or "slightly woolly".
Tomentulose -- Slightly tomentose or "slightly woolly".
Toothed -- Bearing teeth-like protrusions.
Torose -- Having successive swellings and contractions, "constricted between the seeds".
Torulose -- Slightly torose.
Tri -- A prefix meaning three or three times.
Tricuspidate -- See cuspidate.
Trifid -- Separated into three parts.
Trifoliate -- A compound leaf with three leaflets.
Trigonous -- Having three angles.
Tripinnate -- Branched three times.
Triquetrous -- With three sharp angles, like a triangle with concave sides.
Trophophore -- A vegetative leaf or frond, one that does not have reproductive structures attached.
Truncate -- Cut-off at the end; having a squared shape at the apex or base.
Tuber -- A thickened, modified underground stem having many buds (e.g., a potato).
Tubercle -- A small, rounded swelling.
Tuberculate -- Bearing tubercles.
Tuberous -- Thickened; producing tubers.
Turbinate -- Inversely conical, "top-shaped".
Turgid -- "Swollen".
Turion -- A small, scaly bud-like offset on an underground stem.
Type specimen -- A specimen identified by the author of a species that, morphologically, represents the best example of this species (syn. holotype).

U

Umbel -- An inflorescence in which all flowers arise from a common point, younger flowers are in the center, may be simple or compound.
Umbellate -- Arranged in umbels, umbel-like, "umbrella-like".
Umbellet -- A secondary umbel in a compound umbel.
Undulate -- A slightly wavy margin.
Uniseriate -- Arranged in a row or series.
Urceolate -- "Urn-shaped".
Utricle -- A small, thin-walled, one-seeded, more or less inflated fruit.

V

Valve -- One of the segments into which a dehiscent fruit splits at maturity.
Variety (var.) -- A category of biological classification ranking immediately below the species or subspecies level.
Vegetation --
Veins -- Thin threads of vascular tissue, as in a leaf.
Velutinous -- Having a velvety texture.
Vernal -- Pertaining to, or appearing in, spring.
Verrucose -- Covered with wart-like protrusions, "wartlike".
Verticillate -- See whorled.
Verticils -- See whorl.
Vestige -- The reduction of a structure whose functional importance has decreased with evolutionary time.
Villous -- With long and soft, unmatted hairs, "long-hairy".
Viscid -- Glutinous, greasy, or sticky.

W

Wanting -- Lacking.
Whorl -- Three or more structures arranged in a circular manner around a common insertion point.
Whorled -- Having whorls.
Wing -- A thin membranous outgrowth.
Winged -- Bearing wings.

 

Recommended citation:  Author, date, page title. In: Klinkenberg, Brian. (Editor) 2013. E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia [eflora.bc.ca]. Lab for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. [Date Accessed]

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