Glossary of Botanical Terms


Achene: A small, dry indehiscent, 1- seeded fruit.
Actinomorphic: Regular, radially symmetrical.
Acute: Sharp, ending in a point. Fig. iii, B.
Alveolate: Spongy.
Amplexicaul: Clasping or embracing the stem.
Androgynous: Having male and female flowers in the same inflorescence.
Anther: The pollen-bearing part of the stamen.
Apiculate: Having a short, sharp, pointed tip. Fig. iii, C.
Apressed: Closely and flatly pressed against an organ (as hairs on a leaf).
Arachnoid: With slender, entangled hairs.
Arcuate: Curved, bowed.
Aril: An appendage or outer covering of a seed.
Aristate: Provided with a stiff bristle. Fig. iii, A.
Attenuate: Long tapering. Fig. iii, J.
Auricle: An ear-shaped appendage.
Awn: An bristle-like appendage.
Axil: Upper angle formed by the union of stem and leaf.
Axillary: Situated in the angle formed by the base of a leaf or petiole and the stem.


Beak: A long prominent point, usually applied to a fruit appendage.
Berry: pulpy, indehiscent, few- or many- seeded fruit with no true stone (e.g.tomato).
Bract: A reduced leaf associated with the inflorescence.
Bracteole: A secondary bract.


Caducous: Falling off prematurely.
Calyx: The whorl of sepals.
Campanulate: Bell-shaped.
Canescent: Grey- pubescent, hoary.
Capitate: In a head, aggregated into a compact cluster.
Capsule: A simple, dry fruit formed by the fusion of 2 or more carpels. Fig. v. H.
Carnose: fleshy.
Carpel: An ovule-bearing unit of a simple ovary in the female flower, 2 or more carpels may be fused to form a compound ovary.
Carpophore: The stalk to which carpels are attached, in Umbelliferae a portion of the receptacle prolonged between the carpels.
Caruncle: A small appendage at or near the point of attachment of a seed.
Catkin: A hanging spike of small flowers, usually with scales between the flowers and often unisexual.
Caudate: With a tail-like appendage. Fig.iii, G.
Caudex: The woody base of a perennial plant.
Cauline: Belonging to the stem.
Chasmophyte: A plant dwelling in cliff crevices.
Ciliate: Bearing hairs on the margin. Fig. ii, J.
Cladode: A branch or stem simulating a leaf
Coccus: One of the pmts of a lobed fruit with 1- seeded cells.
Connate: United.
Cordate: Heart-shaped. Fig. iii, N.
Coriaceus: Leathe1y.
Corolla: The whorl of petals, often united into a tube.
Corymbose: In a more or less flat-topped inflorescence with the outer flowers opening first.  Fig. vi, B.
Crenate: With shallow, blunt teeth, scalloped. Fig. ii, B.
Crustaceous: With a hard, brittle texture.
Culm: The jointed stem of grasses and sedges, usually hollow except at the attachment.
Cuneate: Wedge-shaped, triangular with the narrow end at the attachement point. Fig. iii, K
Cupule: The cup of fruits such as the acom
Cyathium: The «flower» of Euphorbia consisting of a cup-like involucre containing the small, true flowers.
Cyme: Broad, more or less flat-topped inflorescence in which the central flowers open first.

Fig. vi, C.
Cypsela: The single-seeded fi11it of Compositae, derived from an inferior, unilocular ovary.

Fig. v,J.


Decurrent: extending down and fused to the stem or other organ.

Decussate: Leaves in pairs alternately crossing at right angles.

Deflexed: Reflexed or bent sha1ply downwards.

Deltoid: Triangular.

Dentate: With sharp teeth at right angles to the margin. Fig. ii, E.

Denticulate: Finely dentate. Fig. ii, F.

Dichasium: A cyme-like inflorescence with 2 lateral axes. Fig. vi, H.

Dichotomous: Branching by equally forking in pairs.

Dioecious: With male and female flowers on separate plants.

Disc-floret: The central, tubular flowers in the heads of some Compositae.

Discoid: Having only disc-florets.

Divaricate: Extremely divergent.

Drupe: A stone fruit, a single-seeded, indehiscent fruit with seed having a stony endocarp (drupaceous). Fig. v, C.


Echinulate: Having tiny prickles.
Ellipsoidal: Solid with an elliptical profile.
Elliptical: Oval, tapering at both ends. Fig. viii, E
Epicalyx: An extra calyx-like structure below the calyx.
Endocarp: The inner layer of the fruit wall.
Entire: With a continous margin. Fig. ii, A.
Erose: With an inegularly toothed or eroded margin as if bitten. Fig. ii, K.


Farinose: Mealy.
Fascicle: A condensed close cluster.
Filament: The stalk of a stamen.
Filiform: Thread-like.
Fimbriate: Fringed.
Flexuous: Having a wavy zig-zag form.
Floccose: Covered with tufts of soft, woolly hairs.
Follicle: Dry dehiscent fruit splitting only the dorsal side. Fig. v, G.


Glabrescent: Almost glabrous or becoming glabrous with age.
Glabrous: Without hairs.
Glaucous: Covered with a white bloom.
Globose: Globe-shaped.
Glochidiate: Pubescent with barbed, stiff hairs
Glomerule: A cluster of heads usually in a common involucre.
Glume: One of a pair of sterile bracts at the base of a grass spikelet.


Hastate: Arrow-shaped with the basal lobes turned outwards. Fig. iii, H.
Hemicryptophyte: Herbs with renewal buds at soil-level.
Hermaphrodyte: With stamens and ovary in the same flower.
Hispid: With rough hairs ofb1istles.
Hispidulous: Minutely hispid.
Homogamous: With the simultaneous ripening of stamens and styles in the same flower.
Hypogeous: Underground.
Hypogynous: Inserted beneath the female organs.


Imbricate: Overlapping like roof-tiles.

Indumentum: A hairy or pubescent covering.

Infelior: Below, usually an ovary located below the perianth. Fig. i, B.

Involucel: A secondary involucre.

Involucre: A whorl of bracts subtending a flower or inflorescence.

Involute: Rolled in from the edges with the upper surface innermost.


Keel: The lower, united petals in a leguminous flower.


Labellum: The lip of an orchid flower.

Lacerate: Irregularly cut at the edge.

Laciniate: Deeply cut into narrow lobes separated by narrow, irregular incisions.

Lanate: Woolly, with inte1woven curly hairs.

Lanceolate: Lance-shaped, tape1ing at both ends with the widest part below the middle. Fig. viii, C.

Leaf Arrangement: Fig. vii.

Legume: A simple, superior fruit dehiscent into two valves. Fig. v, A.

Lemma: The lower of two bracts enclosing the grass flower.

Liana: Woody climber.

Ligulate: Strap-shaped (ligule).

Linear: long and narrow with the margins more or less parallel. Fig. viii, A.

Lomentaceous: Having the Jiom of a flat legume constricted between the seeds, the legume falling apart at the constrictions when mature to give a number of 1-seeded segments. Fig. v, B.

Lyrate: Pinnatifid with the tem1inal lobe enlarged. Fig. viii, K.


Medifixed: Of hair fixed in the centre with either end free.

Mericarp: One-seeded part of an ovary split off at maturity. Fig. v, I.

Monoecious: Having separate male and female flowers borne on the same plant.

Mucronate: With a short, narrow point. Fig.III, D.


Nectary: A nectar-secreting gland.


Oblanceolate: Lanceolate but broadest above the middle. Fig. viii, D.

Obovate: Ovate but with the distal end broader. Fig. viii, J.

Obtuse: Blunt or rounded. Fig. iii, E.

Orbicular: Flat with a circular outline. Fig. viii, H.

Ovate: Flat with an egge-shaped outline. Fig. viii, I. (Oval, Fig. viii, F.)


Palate: A rounded projection on the lower lip of some corollas which closes or almost closes the throat.

Palea: The innermost bract of a grass floret.

Palmate: Divided in a hand-like manner. Fig. iv, C.

Panicle: A branched racemose inflorescence. Fig. vi, B.

Papillae: Minute, nipple-shaped projections.

Pappus:The various tufts of hairs or scales on the on the apex of Compositae fruits, generally considered to be a modified calyx.

Patent: Spreading.

Pectinate: Comb-Like.

Pedate: Palmately lobed with the lateral lobes again divided.

Pedicel: The stalk of a single flower.

Peduncle: The stalk of a flower cluster.

Peltate: With the stalk arising towards the center rather than at the margin (of a leaf). Fig.iii,M.

Pelianth: Collective term for the whorls of petals and sepals.

Peligon: A perianth not differentiated into petals and sepals.

Perygynium: Papery sheath enclosing the achene in sedges (Carex).

Petaloid: Petal-like.

Pilose: Shaggy, with soft hairs.

Pinnate: Feather-like, as the leaflets of a compound leaf placed on either side of the rachis. Fig. iv, A, F.

Pinnatifid: Leaf divided ii1 a pinnate way but not cut to the midrib. Fig. iv, D.

Pinnatisect: Leaf divided ii1 a pilmate way but cut to the midrib. Fig. iv, E.

Polygamous: With unisexual and bisexual flowers on the same plant.

Procumbent: Trailing, lying flat along the ground without rooting at the nodes.

Pruinose: With a thick, white, flakey bloom.

Pubescent: Covered with fine hairs.

Pungent: Ending in a stiff, sharp, point

Pyriform: Pear-shaped.


Quadrate: More or”less square in out-line.


Raceme: Simple elongated inflorescence with the oldest flower at the base. Fig. vi, A.

Radiate: Spreading form a common centre.

Radical: Arising from the root or crown.

Ray-floret: the outer, ligulate florets ii1 a composite head.

Receptacle: The modified apex of a stem bearing the floral parts.

Reniform: Kidney-shaped.

Reticulate: With a netted appearance.

Retuse: Notched slightly at the apex. Fig. iii, F.

Revolute: Margin rolled downwards with the lower surface i1mermost.

Rhizome: Underground stem.

Rhomboidal: Diamond-shaped. Fig. viii, G.

Rotund: Almost circular.

Rugose: With a wrinkled surface.

Runcinate: Coarsely sen-ate with the teeth pointing towards the base.


Saccate: Bag- or pouch-shaped.

Saggitate: Arrow-shaped with the lobes pointing towards the base. Fig. iii, I.

Samara: An indehiscent Winged fruit. Fig. v, D.

Scablid: Rough.

Scabrous: With short, rough hairs.

Schizocarp: A dry, indehiscent fruit splitting into two valves. Fig. v, I.

Scorpioid: A coiled cluster in which the flowers are usually two-ranked. Fig. vi, G.

Sericeus: Silky.

Serrate: With saw-like teeth which point forwards.

Serrulate: Minutely serrate.

Sessile: Without a stalk.

Setaceous: Bristle-like, with a bristle.

Setose: Covered with bristles.

Shrublet: A small shtub (perennial).

Silicula: Dry, dehiscent fruit of a Crucifer, not more than three times as long as broad. Fig. v,F.

Siliqua: Dry, dehiscent fruit of a Crucifer, at least three times as long as broad, with two valves and a papety septum.Fig. v, E.

Sinuate: With a pronmmced wavy margin.

Spadix: Thick, fleshy spike beating sessile flowers at the base and sunounded by a spathe  (Arcaceae).

Spathe: A large, sometimes coloured bract surrounding a spadix.

Spathulate: Spoon-shaped. Fig. viii, B.

Spike: An unbranched inflorescence of more or less sessile flowers with the oldest flowers at the base.

Spikelet: A secondary spike or the floral unit in a grass.

Staminode: A sterile stamen which may in some cases be petal-Iike .

Standard: The upper, broad petal of a leguminous flower.

Stipule: The basal appendage of a petiole.

Striate: With fine ridges, grooves or lines of colour.

Strigose: With sharp-pointed, appressed, stiff hairs.

Strophiole: An appendage at the point of attachment of certain seeds.

Sub-: Slightly, as sub- dentate, slightly toothed.

Subulate: Awl-shaped, tapering from base to apex.

Superior: Applied to an ovary situated above the perianth. Fig. i, C.


Tendril: A slender, often coiled extension of stem or leaf used for climbing.

Tepal: A undifferentiated perianth unit.

Terete: Circular in cross-section.

Ternate: Divided into threes. Fig. iv, G.

Thyrse: A compact panicle in which the flowers of the lateral branches open from the outside inwards.

Tomentose: Densely woolly or pubescent, with matted hairs.

Trifid: Divided into threes.

Trifoliate: Having compound leaves with three leaflets. Fig. iv, B.

Truncate: Ending abruptly, the apex or base more or less straight across. Fig. iii, L.

Tuberculate: With small tubers or lumps on the surface.

Tunicate: Formed of concentric layers like the bulb of an onion, the outer loose coat is often referred to as a tunic.


Umbel: A flat-topped inflorescence charrctetistic of the umbelliferae with the peduncles of more or less equal length and arising from a common point. Fig. vi, F, E.

Umbellule: A secondaty umbel.


Valve: One of the segments into which a capsule or pod naturally splits on maturity.

Velutinous: With a velvety indumentum.

Verticillaster: A whorl-like structure composed of a pair of opposed cymes as in the inflorescence of Labiatae. Fig. vi, F.

Villous: With long, unmatted, silky, straight hairs.

Viscid: Sticky.


Wing: Dry, flat extension of some seeds or stems, the lateral petals of a leguminous flower.


Zygomorphic: irregular or bilaterally symmetrical, divisible into two halves in one plane only.