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Throughout these pages, you may have come across words that are new to you. There are some words to describe plants or flowers or how they grow that gardeners and botanists (people who study plants) use. This page explains what some of them mean. The underlined words are links to pages in The Seed Site Botany section with photographs and diagrams on the subject. If you want to come back to this page after you've looked at them, click the 'Back' button on top of your computer. There are explanations of more words and phrases on The Seed Site Botany pages, so click on the red links at the bottom of this page if you want to go and find out about more gardening and botany terms.
Annual ~ A plant that completes its life cycle (growing from seed, flowering, producing seed, and dying) in a single year.
Berry ~ a fleshy fruit formed from a single flower, usually containing a number of seeds.
Biennial ~ a plant that completes its life cycle in two years (growing from seed in its first year, flowering, producing seed and dying in its second year).
Calyx ~ the ring of small leaves surrounding the petals, forming part of the flower.
Corolla ~ the ring of petals forming the flower.
Cotyledon ~ seed leaf - the first leaf or leaves forming the seed and containing the food supply for the new seedling.
Damping Off ~ a fungal disease, mainly of young seedlings, causing them to fall over and die suddenly.
Deciduous ~ a plant that loses its leaves in winter.
Dicot, Dicotyledon ~ a plant with two seed leaves. Opposite of monocot.
Evergreen ~ a plant that keeps its leaves throughout the year.
Family ~ A group of plants which have botanical similarities. See An Introduction to Plant Families
Fertilisation ~ the joining of the pollen from the male parent plant with the ovules of the female parent plant.
Flower Parts ~ a Diagram of Parts of a Flower
Flower Shapes ~ diagrams and photographs of the main types of Flower Shapes.
Frost Hardy ~ a plant that can withstand a winter temperature of at least -5oC (23oF).
Fruit ~ the part of the plant in which the seeds are contained. See Fruits
Germination ~ Germination of a Seed.
Half Hardy ~a plant that can withstand a winter temperature of at least -0oC (32oF).
Hardiness ~ generally understood to be the degree of winter coldness a plant can survive. See the entry on Plant Hardiness
Herbaceous ~ a perennial plant that loses all its above-ground growth during the winter.
Inferior Ovary ~ an ovary (and seed pod) on the stalk side of the flower.
Latin names ~ meanings of common Latin plant names.
Leaf shapes ~ Leaf Shapes and Arrangements.
Legume ~ a bean or pea pod, or a member of the family Leguminosae.
Life Cycle ~ Diagram of the Life Cycle of a Plant
Monocarpic ~ plant which produces seed only once, usually living for more than two years before it does so, and then dies.
Monocot, Monocotyledon ~ plant with a single seed leaf, eg. grasses and bulbs. Opposite of Dicotyledon.
Node ~ a joint (leaf, flower stalk, etc.) on a stem.
Nut ~ a large single hardened achene.
Ovary ~ the chamber at the base of the style which holds the ovules. After fertilisation, it grows to form the fruit or seed pod.
Perennial ~ A plant that lives for many years.
Petal ~ the outer part of the flower, usually large and brightly coloured, to attract pollinators to the plant.
Photosynthesis ~ method by which plants produce the energy they need to grow. The chlorophyll (green colouring) in their leaves can use the energy of sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars and starches to feed the plant.
Pistil ~ the female reproductive part of a flower (the gynoecium), made up of the stigma, style and ovary.
Plant Families ~ A Brief Introduction.
Plumule ~ the embryo shoot contained in the seed.
Pollen ~ The grains (often yellow) on the stamens, that carry the genes of the male parent plant.
Pollination ~ the act of transferring pollen from the stamens to the stigma. See Pollination and Fertilisation
Radicle ~ the embryo root contained in the seed.
Scarification ~ Making a small puncture in a seedcoat to allow moisture to get into the seed.
Seed ~ the package containing the embryo of the new plant, enclosed in an outer coat. See Diagram of a Seed.
Seed Dispersal ~ the way seeds are moved away from the parent plant. See Seed Dispersal
Sepal ~ one of the small green 'leaves' directly under the petals.
Stigma ~ one of the female reproductive parts of a flower. The stigma is on the end of the style, and has a sticky surface to retain the pollen.
Stratification ~ Keeping seeds in layers of damp sand, usually over the winter, to break seed dormancy.
Style ~ part of the female reproductive system of a plant, connecting the stigma with the ovary.
Superior Ovary ~ an ovary (and seed pod) inside the flower.
Tender ~ (plant) a plant that would be damaged by temperatures lower than 5oC (41oF).
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