Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Wyoming Rare Plant Field Guide
- Achene -
- A non-fleshy, 1-seeded fruit.
- Alternate -
- Type of leaf arrangement in which only a single leaf is attached at each
node. Term may also apply to other plant structures attached one per node.
- Ament -
- also called a catkin (see description under catkin).
- Annual -
- A plant with a 1-year life cycle, growing from seed, producing flowers
and fruits, and dying in 1 year.
- Anther -
- The pollen-bearing part of the stamen.
- Appressed -
- Lying close and flat against another part.
- Arched -
- Having the form of an arch; curved.
- Awn -
- A slender bristle-tip.
- Awnless -
- Lacking an awn.
- Axil -
- The upper angle between the point of attachment of a leaf and stem.
- Axillary -
- Referring to the axil of a leaf.
- Banner -
- The enlarged upper petal of a flower of the pea family (Fabaceae).
- Basal -
- Related to, or located at the base.
- Beak -
- A prolonged, usually narrowed tip of a thicker structure, as in some fruits
- Beaked -
- Ending in a beak.
- Biennial -
- A plant that lives for two growing seasons, usually flowering only in
the second year.
- Biforked -
- Divided into two branches, as in hairs that are split near the tip into
two separate branches.
- Bilateral (symmetry) -
- Divisible into identical halves in only one plane; found in "irregular"
flowers such as orchids.
- Blade -
- The expanded, flattened part of a leaf or petal.
- Bract -
- A reduced leaf subtending a flower, usually associated with the inflorescence.
- Bristle -
- A hair-like structure; in members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae),
it refers to one type of pappus, while in certain members of the sedge family
(Cyperaceae) it refers to reduced perianth parts.
- Bulbous -
- Enlarged, bulb-shaped structure.
- Bur -
- A structure armed with spines or hooks, usually adapted for dispersal
- Calcareous -
- Referring to limestone or lime-rich soils.
- Calyx -
- Outer whorl of flowering parts, collective term for all the sepals of
a flower, (plural = calyces).
- Capsule -
- A dry fruit that opens by slits, lids, pores, or teeth to release seeds.
- Catkin -
- An inflorescence composed of an often drooping, or pendulous, cluster
of an often drooping, or pendulous, cluster of unisexual, petal-less flowers,
typical of wind pollinated trees and shrubs, such as willows, cottonwoods,
oaks, and birches; also called an ament.
- Clasping -
- Leaf base partly or wholly surrounding the stem.
- Cobwebby -
- With the appearance of spider webbing, usually refering to very fine hairs.
- Compound (leaf) -
- A leaf divided into leaflets.
- Congested -
- Crowded, as in an inflorescence with many densely clustered flowers.
- Contracted -
- Narrowed in a particular place.
- Corolla -
- Collective term for all the petals of a flower, these petals may be separate
or fused together.
- Culm -
- The hollow or pithy (non-woody) stem found in grasses and sedges.
- Deciduous -
- Falling off; not permanent or evergreen.
- Decumbent -
- Resting on the ground, but with the tip rising up (in contrast to prostrate,
in which a structure lies completely flat on the ground.)
- Dehiscent -
- Splitting open along regular lines, as in a fruit or anther.
- Disjunct -
- Separated from the main, continuous portion of a species' range.
- Disk -
- The tubular flowers found at the center of the flower head of man members
of the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
- Elliptic -
- Oval shaped, with the ends rounded and the widest point at the middle.
- Endemic -
- Restricted to a particular geographic region or soil type.
- Entire -
- Undivided; in leaves; having the leaf margins smooth rather that incised
- Erect -
- Upright in relation to the ground.
- Evergreen -
- Bearing green leaves or stems over the winter; not deciduous
- Exceed -
- To be longer than.
- Fertile -
- Bearing or producing reproductive structures.
- Fibrous (roots) -
- Roots with several to many more or less equal branches; lacking a large
- Floret -
- The reduced flower of grasses, consisting of a lemma, palea, stamens,
- Follicle -
- A type of dry fruit derived from a single pistil that splits open along
only one suture line, as in milkweed pods.
- Fruit -
- The ripened, seed-containing reproductive structure of a plant.
- Funiculus -
- The stalk attaching the ovule or seed to the wall of the ovary, (plural
= funiculi); a structure of diagnostic value for Physaria spp. (Brassicaceae).
- Glabrous -
- Without hairs.
- Gland -
- A depression or appendage which usually secretes a sticky fluid.
- Glandular -
- Bearing glands.
- Glaucous -
- Covered with a waxy coat, often whitish or bluish in color.
- Glumes -
- The pair of bracts at the base of a grass spikelet.
- Habitat -
- The part of the environment where a plant grows.
- Head -
- A dense cluster of flowers, usually nearly spherical in outline. Individual
flowers in the head are usually sessile or nearly so.
- Herb -
- A plant with no persistent woody stem above ground.
- Herbaceous -
- Non-woody; dying to the ground each year.
- Inferior -
- Located beneath or lower than another structure, as in the ovary of a
flower located beneath the sepals and petals.
- Inflated -
- A structure that is bladdery or expanded like a balloon.
- Inflorescence -
- The flowering part of a plant, usually referring to a cluster of flowers
on a single stem.
- Inrolled -
- Curled or curved inwards; involute.
- Internode -
- The portion of a stem between two successive nodes, the gap between successive
points of attachment of leaves on a stem.
- Interrupted -
- Discontinuous; in an inflorescence, having clusters of flowers interspersed
with bare areas of stem.
- Involucre -
- A whorl of bracts located beneath (subtending) a flower cluster, as in
the heads of members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
- Keel -
- A prominent ridge, shaped like the keel of a boat; in some members of
the pea family (Fabaceae), the lower, boat-shaped petal of the flower that
encloses the ovary and stamens.
- Lanceolate -
- Lance-shaped, much longer than broad and tapering to a tip.
- Lateral -
- On or at the side.
- Leaflet -
- Any subdivision of a compound leaf.
- Lemma -
- The larger of the two bracts (the other being the palea) that enclose
the stamens and pistil in a grass floret.
- Ligule -
- Membranous structure or fringe of hairs found at the junction of the leaf
blade and sheath of grasses.
- Linear -
- Several times longer than wide, usually refers to very narrowly shaped
leaves or fruits.
- Lip -
- The lowermost, often highly modified, petal of some flowers (such as orchids,
mints, and penstemons).
- Lobe -
- A division or segment of a structure, usually rounded in outline.
- Margin -
- An edge, as in the edge of a leaf blade.
- Mealy -
- Soft, dry, and crumbly textured, as in certain fruits.
- Membranous -
- Thin, soft, and pliable.
- Midrib -
- The main, central vein of a leaf, bract, scale, or petal.
- Needle -
- Long, narrow, sharp-pointed leaves, such as those of many conifers and
- Node -
- The point of attachment of a leaf or leaves on a stem; the joint of a
- Nutlet -
- A small, one-seeded, nut-like structure; the specialized fruit of members
of the borage (Boraginaceae) and mint families (Lamiaceae).
- Oblanceolate -
- A structure that is broadest near the tip and tapering to a narrower base.
- Oblong -
- Much longer than broad, with nearly parallel sides; wider than linear.
- Once-pinnate -
- A compound leaflet divided into entire leaflets (the leaflets are not
further divided into lobes or secondary leaflets).
- Opposite -
- Type of leaf arrangement in which two leaves are attached on opposite
sides of a stem at the same node.
- Ovary -
- The part of the pistil of a flower that contains the ovules.
- Ovate -
- Egg-shaped, with the broadest end toward the base.
- Palea -
- The smaller of the two bracts (the other being the lemma) that enclose
the stamens and pistil in a grass floret.
- Palmate -
- Lobed or veined with branches arising from a common point, like the fingers
of a hand.
- Panicle -
- A much-branched inflorescence in which the central axis (main stem) bears
flowering branches which are themselves branched again.
- Pappus -
- The modified sepals (calyx) of members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae)
found at the top of the fruit in the form of thin bristles, feather-like
plumes, scales, or sharp awns.
- Partition -
- Line separating the two halves of the fruit of a mustard (Brassicaceae).
- Pectinate -
- Resembling a comb in having very narrow parallel segments borne at a right
angle to the main axis.
- Pedicel -
- The stalk of a single flower in a flower cluster, a single fruit, or a
single grass spikelet.
- Peduncle -
- The stalk of a flower or flower cluster.
- Perennial -
- A plant which lives for three or more years.
- Perianth -
- Collective term for the calyx and corolla of a flower.
- Perigynia -
- Sac-like structure enclosing the fruit in species of Carex (Cyperaceae).
Singular = perigynium.
- Persistent -
- Remaining attached, as in the calyx on a fruit or remnant, dead leaves.
- Petal -
- The usually colored, individual components of the corolla of a flower;
literally the leaves of a flower.
- Petiole -
- A leaf stalk.
- Pinnate -
- With leaflets, lobes, or veins originating from several different points
on each side of a main axis, as in the structure of a feather.
- Pinnately compound -
- Division of a leaf blade into leaflets arranged on each side of a common
- Pistil -
- The ovule-bearing structure of a flower, consisting of a stigma, style,
and ovary; the "female" part of a flower.
- Pistillate -
- With pistils, but lacking stamens; "female".
- Pod -
- Any dry, dehiscent fruit, such as that of many members of the pea family
- Prostrate -
- Lying flat upon the ground (in contrast to decumbent in which a structure
lies flat on the ground except for the tip which rises upward).
- Pubescence -
- Any type of hair-like structure on a plant part.
- Pubescent -
- Having hairs.
- Raceme -
- An elongate inflorescence made up of stalked flowers attached directly
to the main axis.
- Ray -
- The strap-like flowers at the margin of a head in members of the sunflower
family (Asteraceae); a primary branch of the inflorescence in members of
the parsley family (Apiaceae).
- Receptacle -
- The enlarged tip of the flowering stem that bears all or most of the flower
- Recurved -
- Curved downward or backwards.
- Reflexed -
- Abruptly bent downward or back.
- Replum -
- Internal membranous partition dividing the fruit of mustards into two
- Rhizomatous -
- Bearing rhizomes.
- Rhizome -
- An underground stem or rootstock bearing reduced, scaly leaves.
- Rib -
- Prominently raised vein or wing-like structure.
- Rootstock -
- Slow-growing, woody upright underground base of a perennial herb that
gives rise to yearly growth of stems and leaves; caudex.
- Rosette -
- A crowded cluster of leaves located at, or near the ground, at the base
of a stem.
- Scabrous -
- Rough to the touch like sandpaper, usually due to very short, stiff hairs
or outgrowths of the epidermis.
- Scale -
- Any thin, short, often membranous structure; in the sedge family (Cyperaceae)
often used in reference to the bracts that subtend individual staminate
and pistillate flowers; small, sharp-tipped leaves of certain clubmosses
- Secund -
- Oriented on one side of an axis, as in fruits or flowers all being on
one side of a stem.
- Sepal -
- An individual leaf-like segment of the calyx of a flower.
- Sessile -
- Lacking a stalk, attached directly at the base (as in a leaf without a
- Sheath -
- The lower part of the leaf that enfolds the stem in grasses, sedges, and
rushes; in horsetails (Equisetum) used to describe the ring of papery leaves
at each stem joint.
- Shrub -
- A woody plant with several equally large stems from the base, usually
less than 4.5 m tall.
- Silique -
- A fruit type found in certain members of the mustard family (Brassicaceae)
characterized by its long, slender shape that is typically 3 or more times
longer than wide.
- Simple -
- Unbranched or undivided; in leaves refers to condition in which leaves
are not divided into leaflets.
- Spike -
- An elongated inflorescence of sessile flowers or florets.
- Spikelet -
- The basic unit of the inflorescence of grasses and sedges. In grasses
(Poaceae), it is composed of a pair of basal glumes subtending I or more
florets. In sedges (Cyperaceae) it consists of a single bract subtending
- Spore -
- The reproductive body produced and dispersed by ferns, horsetails, club
mosses and other "lower" vascular plants that do not reproduce by true seeds.
- Spreading -
- Diverging at nearly a right angle from a structure; nearly prostrate.
- Spur -
- A tubular or sac-shaped extension of a petal or sepal.
- Stamen -
- The pollen-producing structures of a flower; the "male" part of a flower.
- Staminate -
- With stamens, but lacking a pistil; "male".
- Sterile -
- Non-fertile; structure lacking reproductive parts or abilities.
- Stigma -
- The surface of the pistil on which pollen grains land and germinate.
- Stipule -
- Leaf-like or scaly appendages (typically paired) at the base of the petiole
in many plants. These may be fused at the base as in some members of the
pea family (Fabaceae).
- Stolon -
- A horizontal stem, usually growing along the surface of the ground, often
giving rise to new plants at its tip; runner.
- Strobilus -
- Cone-like reproductive structure; spore-bearing structure of horsetails
(Equisetaceae) and clubmosses (Lycopodiaceae). Plural = Strobili.
- Style -
- The portion of the pistil between the ovary and the stigma.
- Subtend -
- To be situated immediately below, as in bracts beneath a flower.
- Taproot -
- The primary root from which secondary (smaller, lateral) roots arise.
- Terminal -
- Located at the tip of a structure.
- Ternately compound -
- Divided into threes, as in a leaf consisting of three leaflets.
- Tooth -
- Any small, marginal lobe, usually on the edge of a leaf blade.
- Torulose -
- Alternately swollen and constricted, a condition often found in the fruit
of certain mustards (Brassicaceae).
- Triforked -
- Divided into three branches, as in hairs that are divided near their tip
into three separate branches.
- Tufted -
- A close-growing cluster of stems, as in certain bunchgrasses, sedges,
and mat-forming herbs.
- Tussock -
- A compact, densely tufted growth form of some grasses and sedges.
- Twig -
- The current year's growth of a stem; the endmost section of a branch.
- Umbel -
- A flower cluster in which the individual flower stalks arise from a common
point, like the rays of an umbrella.
- Valve -
- One of the segments into which a dehiscent fruit separates.
- Vegetative -
- A sterile structure of a plant, not associated with the production or
dissemination of seeds, spores, or pollen.
- Vein -
- A vascular bundle of a leaf or petal; nerve.
- Viscid -
- Sticky; with sticky exudates.
- Wing -
- A thin, often dry or leaf-like extension bordering a structure; in some
members of the pea family (Fabaceae), the two lateral petals of the flower.
- Woolly -
- With long, interwoven hairs.
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