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Botanical Glossary and A to Z of plant terms

Glossary of plant parts, structure reference, types and naming

42 Alternate: succeeding regularly on opposite sides of a branch.
Annual: plants which flower and die in the same year as they are raised from seed.
Anther: the male organ of a flowering plant, the head of the stamen.
Arrow-shaped Leaf: a wide base with two pointed lobes directed downwards.
Axil: the angle between a stem and the upper side of a leaf-stalk.

Basal: leaves at the base of a plant.
Biennial: plants which flower in the year following that in which the seeds are sown.
Bigeneric: a cross between two species of different genera.
Botryoid: like a bunch of grapes.
Bract: a modified leaf beneath a flower.
Bracteole: a diminutive bract.
Bulbil: a small bulb attached to the main bulb.

Calyx: the cup or collection of sepals of a flower.
Campanulate: bell-shaped.
Capitulum: a close cluster of flowers consisting of tiny florets packed together on a common platform.
Carpel: a division of the ovary or seed vessel.
Clasping leaf: when a stalk-less leaf encircles the stem.
Cleistogene: flowers devoid of a corolla. The flowers never open, but develop into fruits by self-fertilization.
Compound: a leaf broken up into several leaflets.
Connate: when the bases of opposite leaves are grown together.
Cordate: heart-shaped.
Corm: a bulbous underground stem.
Corolla: the inner whorl of the flower composed of the petals.
Corona: the outer edge of a radiated compound flower.
Corymb: where the cluster of flowers is brought more or less to the same level.
Cruciferous: with four petals in the form of a cross.
Cyme: a shoot terminating in a flower, then sending off side branches each of which terminates in like manner.

Deciduous: plants and trees which shed their leaves in winter.
Decumbent: lying flat (usually with tip raised).
Digitate Leaf: leaflets radiating from the leaf-stalk.
Dimorphic: flowers that appear in two forms such as the Primrose, in which one form has a short style with anthers near the mouth of the corolla-tube, and the other form has a long style and anthers midway down the tube.
Disc: the central part of a radiate flower in which the florets are tubular.

Entire Leaf: having the margin undivided.
Ericaceous: belonging to the heath family.

Filament: the stalk-like portion of the stamen.
Florescence: the blossoming of a plant; the flowering season.
Floret: one of the small flowers in a composite blossom; a floweret.
Floriferous: bearing flowers.
Funicle: a small stalk by which the seed is attached to the placenta.

Genera: the plural of genus.
Genus: an assemblage of species, which all agree in one or more important structural character.
Glaucous: a sea-green colour; having a down of this colour.

Heart-shaped Leaf: broad, with two rounded lobes.
Hybridized: produced from two species.
Hypogynous: when petals or stamens spring from beneath the base of the ovary and are not attached to the calyx.

Inferior: denotes that the calyx or corolla is free from and below the ovary.
Inflorescence: the arrangement of grouping of the flowers on a plant: collective blossoms.
Involucre: a series of bract-like leaves below a cluster of flowers.

Keel: the lowest petal of a flower, resembling the wings of a butterfly.

Laciniated: with a fringed border.
Lanceolate: gradually tapering towards the tip; lance-shaped.
Latifoliate: having broad leaves.
Leaflets: when there are several succeeding leaves on each side of a midrib; a little leaf.
Leguminous: bearing seeds which split into halves like the pea.
Linear: slender; a leaf that is long and very narrow with parallel sides.
Lobe: a division of a leaf.

Monocarpic: annual plant, or one which dies after it has once born fruit.
Moraine: accumulation of stones in a rockery.

Nectary: the gland of a flower which holds the nectar.
Node: the point of juncture of leaf and stem.
Nodule: a small knot or rounded lump.

Oblong Leaf: twice as long as broad with both ends rounded.
Obovate: egg-shaped with the small end at the base; inversely ovate.
Offset: a shoot; a short runner bending up at the end to form a new plant.
Order: a group of genera all of which agree in some striking particular.
Oval Leaves: tapering to each end.
Ovary: the seed vessel.
Ovate: egg-shaped.
Ovula: the seed of a plant before it is fertilised.

Palmate: in the shape of a hand.
Panicle: when the pedicels are branched, supporting two or more flowers in a loose cluster.
Pappus: the calyx of composite flowers; usually a whorl of bristles or silky hairs.
Pedicel: a flower-stalk supporting several flowers without footstalks.
Peduncle: the stalk of a flower or a cluster of flowers.
Pendent: hanging down.
Pendulous: hanging so as to swing.
Perennial: rootstocks that increase and expand yearly.
Perfoliate Leaf: when the stem passes through the base of a stalk-less leaf.
Perianth: flowers showing no distinction from calyx and corolla; the floral envelope or outer part of a flower.
Petals: flower-leaves forming part of a corolla.
Petiole: a leaf-stalk.
Pinnate: leaflets of elongate shape, forming pairs on opposite sides.
Pistil: the seed-bearing part of a flower comprising the ovary, stigma and style.
Placenta: the part of the ovary to which the ovules are attached.
Pollen: the fertilizing powder or male elements held by the anthers by of which the ovules are fertilized.
Pollinium: containing pollen.
Pubescent: hairy; downy.

Raceme: flowers arranged like a spike but with footstalks.
Radiate: a composite flower consisting of a disc in which the florets are tubular.
Radical Leaves: leaves that rise directly from the rootstock.
Ray: the outer part of a compound radiate flower.
Receptacle: the fleshy head of the peduncle supporting the flower.
Recurved: curving outwards.
Reflex: bent or turned back.
Rhizome: an underground creeping stem which sends out shoots above the roots below.
Rosette: rose-shaped.

Scape: a flower-stalk rising direct from the rootstock.
Sepal: a leaf of the calyx; the outer whorl of the perianth.
Serrated: notched on the edge like a saw.
Sessile: leaves or flowers connected with the stem without footstalks.
Simple Leaf: an undivided leaf.
Spadix: an inflorescence where the flowers are arranged round a thick fleshy spike.
Spathe: the large bract that envelops certain flowers before opening.
Species: individual plants bearing certain characters in common.
Spike: bearing a number of flowers without footstalks.
Spreading: when the petals of a flower are at right angles with the central column.
Spur: a projection, usually the nectary.
Stamen: the male pollen-bearing organ.
Stigma: the organ holding the pollen grains at the top of the pistil.
Stipules: small leaves, always in pairs at the base of a leaf-stalk.
Stolon: a trailing stem which roots and develops a new plant at intervals.
Style: the support for the stigma.
Succulent: with fleshy foliage and stalks.

Terminal: flowers produced at the summit of a stem or end of a branch.
Tomentose: downy or cottony.
Trefoil: a form of leaf with three leaflets.
Tuber: thickened underground stem.
Tubercle: a small swelling or knob.
Tuberous: consisting of round fleshy tubers.

Umbels: a flat-topped cluster of flowers having their footstalks of nearly equal length and radiating outwards.

Variegated: marked with different patches of colour; dappled.
Versatile: when the anther is so connected to the filament that it swings freely, as if balanced on a pivot.

Whorl: a ring of leaves or flowers around a stem.

Zone: a band or girdle of colour.

See also:
Plant species directory where you can buy plants online


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