Friday, 6 September 2013

Plant terms, descriptions and labelling.

If you are anything like me you can get easily confused. Genus, perennial, cultivar, herbaceous, pinnate...I could go on and on... In fact I think I will. Below is a list of words and definitions used to describe various plant attributes. I'll keep adding as I go along! (I'll also arrange things better soon so you can find what your after more easily.)

  • Alternate - Leaf structures, where the leaves grow alternately along the length of a stem.
  • Annual - Living only one growing season.
  • Biennial - Two year life cycle, flowering and fruiting in the second year.
  • Bipinnate - Pinnate leaves which have themselves become pinnate. Sometimes called 'twice-pinnate.'  This is a good example of a Bipinnate leaf (from here).
  • Cultivar - A plant variety that has been created intentionally by selective breeding.
  • Cultivation - preparation of ground for planting and the planting, tending and harvesting of the plants them selves.
  • Evergreen - A plant which does not lose all of it's leaves in Autumn.
  • Fruit - The ripened ovary of a plant. Usually fleshy. Bears the seeds. Edible (although not always to humans)
  • Genus - A grouping of living things in taxonomy (see Taxonomy below.) Genus are subdivided in to Species. I.e. Quercus robur (English Oak) and Quercus alba (White Oak) belong to the same Genus (Quercus) yet are separate species.
  • Germination - The beginning of growth in a seed.
  • Half-hardy - A plant able to survive out of doors except in extreme cold, snow and frosts.
  • Hardy - Able to survive what ever the weather
  • Hedge - A row of shrubs and trees, usually low growing forming a boundary.
  • Herbaceous - Refers to plants that are fleshy rather than woody, lacking in a permanent woody stem.
  • Hybrid - A plant resulting from a cross between two different species of plant. Example here of peppermint. Denoted in the plant names by an 'X', I.e. Mentha x piperita.
  • Japonica - Species name implying it comes from Japan.
  • Opposite - In leaf structures - the leaves grow from the stem opposite to each other (as opposed to alternate or whorled)
  • Ovary - Here for image (from here.) Female part of the plant that, once fertilised, produces the seeds or fruit.
  • Palmate -Lobed leaf where the lobes emanate from a mid point.
  • Perennial - A plant which lasts more than two years. May 'die back' in winter to grow new shoots in Spring.
  • Petal - The coloured part of the flower. Primarily for attracting pollinating insects in to the reproductive parts.
  • Pinnate - Leaves which have become split, fanning out from the central vein. As with a feather.
  • Sepal - The casing of the flower bud.
  • Shrub - A bush - a woody plant of low height which has no central trunk.
  • Species - The lowest taxonomy. The most commonly used way of describing one plant as distinct from another. Named by the Genus and then an adjective or noun both in Latin and italicised. I.e. Lathyrus odoratus (Sweet Pea) This belongs to the Genus Lathyrus. (Odoratus means fragrant.)
  • Taxonomy - The hierarchical organization of plants (and other living things). Species belong to Genus', and genus' belong to families etc. This explains it well.
  • Trailing - A plant which has a long stem which does not support it's self.
  • Tree - A perennial woody plant with a main trunk.
  • Tripinnate - Bipinnate leaves which has divided once more to become 'thrice-pinnate'. This is how it looks. Often found in ferns.
  • Whorls - Leaf structure - where the leaves grow in a circle from the stem like this. (From here.)
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