A Guide to Wild Flowers Between the Capes

Glossary of Terms

Achene – a small, one-seeded fruit which does not split open

Aggregate fruit – a fruit formed from a cluster of ovaries from a single flower, like a blackberry.

Alternate – one leaf at a leaf node.

Annual – completion of a life cycle in one year.

Anther - the sac on a stamen where pollen is produced.

Anthocyanin – a purplish or reddish, water-soluble, glycoside pigment

Banner – the upper petal of a flower in the pea family

Basal – at the base of a plant

Berry – a fruit with a fleshy ovary wall and more than one seed, like a tomato.

Biennial – completion of a life cycle in two years.

Bilateral – having two sides.

Bipinnate – twice pinnate with primary and secondary divisions.

Bract – a much reduced or modified leaf subtending a flower or inflorescence.

Calyx – the first outer parts of the perianth of a flower; the collection of sepals.

Capsule – a dry fruit from a compound ovary that cracks open when dry.

Catkins – a unisexual, spike-like, pendulous inflorescence of flowers lacking petals.

Clasping – a sessile leaf that partly surrounds the stem.

Composite – made up of distinct parts.

Compound inflorescence – an inflorescence that is branched.

Compound leaf – a leaf that is divided into leaflets.

Compound umbel – an umbel that is branched into successive umbels, like that of a carrot.

Cone – a compact strobilus of ovule-bearing or pollen-bearing bracts, found on gymnosperms.

Cordate – heart-shaped.

Corolla – the second outer parts of the perianth of a flower; the collection of petals.

Corymbs – a flat-toped inflorescence due to different length pedicels; the outer flowers mature first.

Cuspidate – tipped with a short, sharp, abrupt, rigid point.

Cyme – a flower cluster in which the center or terminal flower blooms first.

Deciduous – falling away, such as leaves that fall from a tree at the end of a growing season.

Decurrent – extending downward, usually along a stem.

Dicot – a flowering plant with two seed leaves.

Dimorphic – in two forms.

Dioecious – male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers borne on separate plants.

Disk flowers – tubular flowers that make up the central disk of composite flowers in the Asteraceae.

Distichous - in two vertical rows, usually applied to leave.

Drupe – a fleshy fruit with a stony inner part that surrounds the seed, like a peach.

Druplet – a minute drupe that part of an aggregate fruit.

Floret – a small flower in a cluster; a grass flower.

Fruit – a ripened ovary and associated structures.

Gall – a swelling of plant tissue caused by a parasite.

Glabrous – without hairs.

Glaucous – covered with a whitish or bluish waxy coating.

Glumes – one of the empty bracts below a grass spikelet (the grass inflorescence).

Gymnosperms – a vascular plant with seeds not enclosed in an ovary (the group name “Gymnospermae” from Greek means “naked seeds”).

Halophyte - a plant that grows in salty soil.

Hastate – arrowhead-shaped but with the basal lobes pointing sideways instead of backward.

Haustorium (pl. haustoria) – an absorptive structure of a parasite that penetrates cells of a host to derive food.

Head – a dense collection of sessile or nearly sessile flowers making up an inflorescence.

Herb – a plant with non-woody parts that are above the ground.

Heterotrope – an organism that obtains its food from external sources.

Hirsute – hairy.

Hispid – hairy with stiff, sharply pointed bristles.

Inferior ovary – ovary below the petals, sepals and stamens.

Inflorescence – arrangement of flowers on a plant.

Invasive – a non-native plant that has become a pest.

Involucre – a whorl of bracts that subtends a flower or inflorescence.

Irregular flower – a flower that is not radially symmetrical; synonymous with “zygomorphic flower”.

Keel – a ridge like the keel of a boat; the two partly-united, lower petals of a flower in the pea family.

Lanceolate – lance shaped, much longer than wide.

Leaf axil – the angle between the leaf and stem; some flower originate from the leaf axil.

Leaflet – the leaf-like division of a compound leaf.

Legume – a member of the pea family, the Fabaceae, formerly the Leguminosae.

Lemma – the lower and larger of two bracts enclosing a grass flower.

Lips – the upper or lower petal or sepal of an irregular flower; it is often expanded.

Lobe – a separate, often rounded, division of a plant part such as a leaf or petal.

Locule – a compartment of an ovary.

Midrib – the central rib of a leaf.

Monocot – a flowering plant with one seed leaf.

Monoecious – male (staminate) and female (pistillate) flowers borne on the same plant.

Mycorrhizae – a symbiotic combination of fungi hyphae (individual fungal cells) and the roots of seed plants.

Node – the place on a stem where a leaf attaches.

Notch – a v-shaped indentation; compare with serrate in which the teeth of the notches are pointed forward.

Oblanceolate – lance-shaped but with the broad part above the middle and the taper toward the base;   an oblanceolate leaf would have the longer taper toward the petiole.

Obovate – inversely ovate with the longer taper toward the base.

Ocrea (pl. ocreae) – sheath around a stem formed by leaf stipules; found in the buckwheat family, the Polygonaceae.

Opposite – paired structures directly across from each other, as with leaves at the same node.

Ovary – the basal, seed-bearing part of the pistil.

Ovate – egg-shaped with the longer taper toward the apex and the broader dimension near the base.

Ovule – an immature seed.

Palea – the inner and smaller of the two bracts enclosing a grass flower (floret).

Palmate – spreading from a common point, like the fingers from the palm of a hand.

Panicle – a compound inflorescence arranged along a central axis on which the lower flowers open first.

Pappus – a crown of bristles on the achene of the disk flower in the Asteraceae, used for seed dispersal; the “down of a thistle”.
Parasitic – deriving nutrition from the living tissues of another the organism; in botany, a plant not capable of making food for itself and living off another organism.

Parasitoid - a wasp that completes larval development within the body of another insect, in this case the larvae of Diplolepis.

Parenchyma – tissue composed of living, thin-walled cells that are randomly arranged.

Pedicel – stalk of a single flower (see peduncle).

Peduncle – stalk of an inflorescence (flower cluster), or the stalk of a solitary flower (see pedicel).

Pendent – hanging or drooping.

Perennial – persistent annual cycles, the plant completing an annual life cycles year after year.

Perfect flower – a flower with both stamens and pistils; male and female parts in the same flower.

Perianth – collectively, the petals and sepals; the corolla-calyx complex.

Petal – a unit of the corolla.

Petiole – the stalk of a leaf or compound leaf.

Phyllary – one of the bracts that subtends the composite flower of the Asteraceae.

Pinnate – arranged along opposite sides of an axis; a compound leaf with leaflets arranged in this manner.

Pistil – the seed-producing (female) organ of a flower consisting of the stigma, style, and ovary.

Pistilate – a flower with pistils only, no stamens.

Pod – a dry fruit that releases its seeds by splitting open when it is mature; a legume.

Prostrate – referring to a stem that lies flat on the ground.

Pubescent – covered with soft, short hairs.

Pupa – the stage of insect metamorphosis between larva and adult.

Raceme – an inflorescence where pediceled flowers are attached to an elongated axis; younger flowers are near the apex.

Rachis - an extension of the petiole of a compound leaf that bears the leaflets. The main axis of a compound leaf.

Ray flower – an outer, strap-shaped flower of a composite head of the Asteraceae.

Receptacle - the part of a flower that bears the flower organs; the end of a pedicel or peduncle to which the flower is attached (syn. torus).

Regular flower – a flower that is radially symmetrical; synonymous with “actinomorphic flower”.

Reniform – kidney shaped.

Retuse – a rounded apex with a shallow notch at its center; a leaf with a shallow notch in its otherwise rounded end.

Rhizomatous - having rhizomes.

Rhizome – a perennial, prostrate, underground stem, usually rooting at nodes and sending up shoots.

Riparian – living near a lake, stream, or river.

Rosette – arranged in a circular fashion; usually a circular cluster of leaves at the base of a plant.

Runner – a slender, horizontal, stolon-like stem that roots from its apex, like those of a strawberry plant.

Sclerenchyma – long, thick-walled (lignified), supportive cells associated with vascular bundles; they form sclerenchyma fibers.

Sepal – one of the units of the calyx.

Septum – a partition between cavities.

Serrate – having sharp teeth directed forward; saw toothed.

Serrulate – serrate with small teeth.

Sessile – without a stalk or stem.

Sheath – a tubular envelope around a stem.

Shrub – a perennial, woody plant without a distinct trunk, considered shorter than a tree.

Silicle – a fruit that separates lengthwise, the halves not much longer than wide; in the Brassicaceae (see silique).

Silique – a fruit that separates lengthwise, the halves much longer than wide; in the Brassicaceae (see silicle).

Simple – undivided or unbranched.

Sinuate – wavy.

Spadix – a spike with a fleshy axis.

Spathe – a large bract enclosing an inflorescence.

Spatulate – spatula-shaped; broad and rounded at the apex and tapering toward the base.

Spike – an inflorescence with sessile flowers on a long axial stem, the lower flowers blooming first.

Spiklet – an aggregation of florets in grasses; a secondary spike.

Sporangium (pl. sporangia) – a structure that produces asexual spores.

Sporangiophore – a structure that bears sporangia.

Spur – a hollow projection from a petal or sepal that secretes nectar.

Stamens - the pollen-producing (male) organ of a flower consisting of the filament and anther.

Staminate – a flower with stamens only, no pistils.

Sterile – infertile or barren.

Stigma - the sticky tip of the pistil, the female organ of the flower, that traps pollen.

Stipule – one of a pair of projections at the base of a petiole; it may be large enough to look leaf-like.

Stolon – a slender, horizontal, above ground stem that roots at its nodes.

Strobilus – a cone or cone-like aggregation of sporophylls (modified, spore-bearing leaves).

Style – part of the pistil between the stigma and ovary.

Subsp. Subspecies – a taxonomic subdivision of species, usually based on geographic distribution (see Var. variety; also see Introduction).

Subtend – to lie below and close to.

Succulent – referring to leaves that are fleshy, thick, and juicy.

Superior ovary - ovary above the petals, sepals and stamens.

Tendril – a slender, coiled, modified leaf that is an organ of climbing plants.

Tepal – a sepal or petal that cannot be distinguished from the other.

Terminal – at the end.

Tooth – a small, marginal lobe, often pointed.

Torus – same as receptacle.

Trifoliate – a compound leaf with three leaflets.

Tripinnate – three times pinnate with primary, secondary, and tertiary divisions.

Tuber - a greatly enlarged portion of an underground stem with buds called eyes, like a potato.

Umbel – a flat-topped inflorescence with flower stalks (pedicels or peduncles) arising from one point.

Var. Variety – specifically, a legal term that recognizes a cultivated plant’s breeding; generally, it is almost synonymous with and used interchangeably with “sub species” (see Intorduction).

Vascular bundle – strands of tissue that support the plant and conduct water and nutrients; composed of sclerenchyma fibers and xylem and phloem (the vascular or conductive tissues).

Vegetative – non-reproductive.

Whorled – three or more leaves or branches arranged in a circle around a stem.

Wing – one of the two side petals of a flower in the pea family, Fabaceae; a thin, flat projection of a dry fruit, like that of a maple.

Click here to Return to Flowers - Page One
Click here for the Introduction
Click here for the References

Click here for Whitish Flowers
Click here for Yellowish Flowers
Click here for Reddish Flowers
Click here for Bluish Flowers

Click here for Greenish Flowers