Glossary
Terminology Description
Terminology Description
Abaxial Abaxial means being located on the side away from the axis. The abaxial surface of a leaf is its underside.
Abiotic Non-living; part of physical environment.
Acuminate Tapering gradually to a protracted point.
Acute Terminating in a distinct but not protracted point, the converging edges forming an angle of less than 90 degrees.
Adventitious roots Arising in abnormal positions of roots from the shoot system.
Aerial root Specialized roots in mangrove plants that are exposed to the air, at least during low tide.
Alternate Leaves occurring at different levels successively along a stem.
Annual Plant that completes its life cycle from seed to seed in a single year (or season).
Anther The portion of a stamen which bears the pollen.
Apiculate A short, sharp, flexible point.
Aril An appendage growing at or near the hilum of a seed; fleshy thickening of the seed coat (e.g. in Myristicaceae).
Aroid Member of the Araceae family.
Asexual A sexual orientation characterized by a persistent lack of sexual attraction to any gender.
Axil The point of the upper angle formed between the axis of a stem and a leaf (stalk).
Axillary Arising from the axil, as in an axillary bud at the end.
Axillary spines The axillary spine is a spine that develops in the axil (the angle between the stem and the leaf) of a plant.
Bark The bark is the outer covering of the trunk, branches, and roots of trees.
Basal Arising from the base of a stem beneath a terminal flower.
Beaked Narrowed or prolonged tip.
Berry A fleshy fruit developing from a single female reproductive organ may be applied to any fruit which is fleshy or pulpy throughout, i.e. without a stony pit or core.
Bifurcate Forked in two.
Bipinnate Twice divided compound leaf, with leaflets on opposite sides.
Brackish Slightly to saline/ salty but not having the salinity of seawater.
Bryophyte Mosses.
Buttress root A stout vertically flattened root growing from near the base of the stem.
Cable root A slender root which spreads horizontally outwards from the plant.
Calyx The calyx is the sepals of a flower.
Canopy The uppermost layer of branches and leaves of a single tree or forest.
Capsule A capsule is a seed pod that opens when it is dry and the seeds are mature.
Carpel A simple pistil or single-celled ovary or seed vessel.
Catkin Spikelike flower cluster, sometimes drooping.
Circumscissile Splitting or opening along a circumference with the top coming off as a lid.
Clump- forming Growing closely together in a compact cluster or group.
Columnar trees Trunk of tree is tall and straight.
Compound leaf Many leaflets present on either side of the rachis
Cone roots A vertical extensions from cable roots
Cordate leaf A cordate leaf has a heart shape, with the wide part towards the petiole.
Corolla The corolla consists of the petals of a flower.
Cosmopolitan Found all over the globe.
Cotyledons The seed-leaves or embryonic leaf.
Cymes A flat topped inflorescence in which the centre flower opens first.
Deciduous Shedding its leaves periodically (e.g. during dry season).
Dichotomous Branching that result from division of a growing point into two equal parts, giving repeated forking.
Dicotyledons With two cotyledons, i.e. primary leaves of the embryo; includes most seed plants.
Dioecious Male and female flowers present in different plants.
Domatium Crevice or hollow in some plants, serving as lodging for insects (esp. ants) or mites.
Emarginate Notched at the tip or apex.
Endemic Endemic plants are native to an area and are only found in that area.
Endosperm A tissue containing stored food, surrounding and nourishing the embryo.
Ephemeral Temporary, soon disappearing.
Epigeal Of or relating to the emergence of cotyledons above the surface of the ground.
Epiphyte Growing on another plant (usually an herb growing on a tree), without being rooted in soil.
Erect Vertical or upright.
Estuarine Of, relating to, or found in an estuary.
Evergreen Not shedding its leaves.
Fissured Deeply grooved.
Fissured bark Bark that splits or cracks.
Flaky bark Barks that falls of in flakes or thin sheets.
Flanged A projecting rim or edge.
Fluted trunk Spreading outward towards the bottom.
Foliaceous Like a leaf in shape.
Frond Palm leaf.
Gall Abnormal outgrowth from plant leaf (or stem) caused by the presence of young insects (e.g. gall wasps).
Germination Germination is the beginning of growth of a plant from its seed.
Gland An appendage or other structure on a plant which secretes sticky or oily substances.
Glossy Smooth and shining.
Gregarious Large numbers of the same species occurring together at a single site (not necessarily compact).
Halophyte Plant that only occurs in salty, saline areas.
Hemi- parasite A plant that partially parasites on a host, but supplements this with its own (often feeble) photosynthesis; can exist without a host.
Hilum Scar left at former point of attachment.
Holotype A single type specimen upon which the description and name of a new species is based.
Hybrid Individual produced as a result of cross between two different species.
Hypocotyl Portion of the embryonic stem below the cotyledons (i.e. the primary leaves of the embryo).
Hypogeal Emergence of cotyledons below the surface of the ground.
Inflorescence Arrangement of flowers or flower cluster.
Internodes The part between two nodes or joints.
Keeled A prominent, longitudinal ridge.
Knee roots Above ground roots shaped like a knee.
Lagoon Body of seawater (often shallow) that is (almost) disconnected from the sea.
Latex A thick, milky juice.
Leaflet A division of a compound (i.e. subdivided) leaf.
Lenticel A special pore in the bark of trees and shrubs allows air pass in to inner tissues often with characteristic shape, colour and size.
Liana A woody climbing plant, usually of (semi) tropics.
Ligule A tongue- shaped or strap- shaped organ.
Littoral The intertidal zone.
Margin The edge of a leaf.
Midrib The central rib or vein of a leaf.
Monocotyledons With one cotyledon, i.e. primary leaf of the embryo; includes groups such as grasses, sedges, orchids and lilies.
Mucronate Leaf apex usually broad, terminated by a short stiff point called mucro.
Nerve A prominent, simple vein or rib of a leaf.
Nodes Knob or joint of a stem at which leaves arise.
Oblong Elongated, two or four times longer than broad.
Obovate Inversely egg- shaped and ends with the broader region.
Obovoid Pear shaped.
Obtuse Blunt at the end, forming greater than right angle.
Opposite Two leaves borne on either side of a branch at a single node.
Palm-like A plant whose leaf is divided into several leaflets which arise from the same point.
Panicle An inflorescence divided into branches, compound.
Pantropical Occurring in all of the tropical regions of the world.
Peltate A leaf with the stalk usually attached centrally beneath the leaf blade.
Pencil roots A vertical extension from cable roots.
Perennial Plant which lives for more than one year.
Phenology Occurrence of flowering and fruiting events.
Pimple A projections on the surface of the trunk.
Pinnate A compound leaf with leaves arranged on opposite sides of an elongated axis.
Pitcher Plant a member of the Nepenthaceae family, characteristically with leaf-ends that are modified into vessels that contain rain water and enzymes and serve to trap insects.
Pneumatophore A respiratory root which rises above the soil surface or spongy/ corky aerial roots arising from cable roots, variable in shape including peg, conical, pencil and knee.
Pod A dry fruit that opens at maturity, e.g. of legumes (Legiminosae).
Pollen Pollen is the male reproductive cell of flowering plants and cone-bearing plants.
Pollination Pollination is the process in which the male's pollen fertilizes the female's ovule and creates a seed.
Prop roots Aerial roots that form on the stem above ground, also called stilt roots.
Propagule A structure, such as seed or spore, which gives rise to a new plant.
Pubescent Softly hairy, covered with short, soft fine hairs.
Raceme An unbranched, elongated flower cluster with flowers maturing from the bottom towards top.
Rattan A climbing palm.
Resilience The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape.
Reticulate Like a net.
Revolute Rolled downwards or to the lower side.
Rhizome An underground horizontal stem.
Riparian Along the river or stream.
River banks A bank generally refers to the land alongside a body of water.
Rosette A radiating cluster of leaves as in a dandelion.
Scales Flat, plate-like external structure, formed from the epidermis often visible only if viewed under magnification.
Scandent Climbing, without use of tendrils, hooks, etc.
Secondary leaflets A (further) division of a leaflet (see above)
Sedge Grass-like herb of the Cyperaceaefamily
Sepal Small leaves located directly under a flower they are the outermost part of a flower. Collectively, the sepals are called the calyx.
Sessile Immovable.
Sexual Sexual dimorphism is characteristic of having two different forms, one for the males and another for the females of a species.
Sheath Organ that (partially) surrounds another organ (e.g. a leaf base).
Shrub-like Smaller plants with main stems divided into many sub stems.
Sickle-shaped Shaped like a sickle, a curved knife
Simple leaf Single, undivided piece, applied to leaves.
Sinuous Curving like a meandering stream.
Sorus Cluster of sporangia on the surface of a fern leaf (plural = sori).
Spat(h)ulate Leaf shaped like a spatula.
Spike An unbranched, elongated flower cluster with (sub-) sessile flowers, maturing from the bottom upwards.
Spikelet A secondary spike.
Sporangium Spore-bearing case or sac (of fern) (plural = sporangia).
Spore Reproductive cell of a fern.
Spur Small, hook-like appendage.
Spurred Bearing of small, hook-like appendage.
Stalk Petiole, peduncle or stem.
Stamen The male organ of the flower consisting of the pollen- bearing anther and its stalk.
Standard The upper and usually largest petal of a Papillionaceae flower.
Sterile Infertile, non-reproductive, not able to reproduce stigma.
Stilt root A root arising from the stem some distance above the ground and affording.
Stolon Creeping plant’s stem or runner, capable of developing rootlets and stem, and ultimately developing new individuals.
Succulent Plant with juicy, thick leaves and thickened stems; often occurs in dry and desert conditions or physiologically dry conditions such as with high salinity.
Suture Line where two parts are joined, and often split apart.
Swampy Characteristic of or resembling a swamp.
Tendril A slender, twining organ used to grasp support for climbing.
Terminal Located at the end, e.g. of a branch or twig.
Terrestrial Occurring on land.
Thicket A thick clump of shrubs, often impenetrable.
Thyrse Having a number of simple dichasial cymes arranged in a recemose manner on an elongated peduncle.
Tree Higher woody plant, usually with one major trunk.
Umbel An inflorescence consisting of a number of flower stalks or pedicels.
Tussock Grasses or sedges growing closely together in a compact cushion.
Vegetative The vegetative state is the stage in a flowering plant's life cycle before the appearance of its fruiting structures.
Vein A vascular bundle, usually visible externally, e.g. on the leaf surface.
Vine forest Certain type of evergreen, tropical forest that is particularly abundant in climbers (e.g. in parts of Queensland, Australia).
Viviparous Sprouting on the parent plant (e.g. many Rhizophoraceae).
Wetland An area that is either permanently, periodically or occasionally covered with fresh, brackish or saline water.
Whorls (flowers) A ring-like arrangement of flowers from a common point or node.
Whorls (leaves) A ring-like arrangement of leaves from a common point or node.
Wing Thin, flat margin bordering the fruit.
Zonation Distribution in zones or regions of definite character.
Zygomorphic Having only one plane of symmetry, usually the vertical plane, referring to a flower, calyx or corolla.