Botanical Glossary


  • adventitious – refers to structures that develop in an unusual place. There are adventitious rootsbuds and shoots, which are very common in vascular plants. Adventitious rooting may be a stress-avoidance acclimation for some species, driven by such inputs as hypoxia/anoxia or nutrient deficiency. Another ecologically important function of adventitious rooting is the vegetative propagation aerobic in plants.
  • achene (Greek chainein, to gape; also sometimes referred to as akene and occasionally achenium or achenocarp) is a type of simple dry fruit produced by many species of flowering plants. Achenes are monocarpellate (formed from one carpel) and indehiscent (they do not open at maturity). Achenes contain a single seed that nearly fills the pericarp, but does not adhere to it. In many species, what is referred to as the “seed” is actually an achene, a fruit containing the seed. The seed-like appearance is owed to the hardening of the wall of the seed-vessel, which encloses the solitary seed so closely as to seem like an outer coat
  • actinomorphic-most flowers are actinomorphic (“star shaped”, “radial”), meaning they can be divided into 3 or more identical sectors which are related to each other by rotation about the centre of the flower.
  • agroecology – the science of applying ecological concepts and principles to the design, development, and management of agricultural environments
  • agroecosystem – an assembly of mutually interacting organisms and their environment in which materials related to crop production are interchanged in a largely cyclical manner
  • allee effect – a biology-related concept that is characterized by the relationship between the size of the population and the growth rate of the species.
  • altruistic behavior – behavior in which the subject shows less of a concern for their own well being and more for the welfare of others or offspring.
  • anaerobic metabolism – the fermentation of organic compounds in which air is not breathed in. Contrary to aerobic respiration which needs oxygen to be carried out.
  • anther –the top of the stamen, which produces the pollen.
  • anthropomorphism, or personification, is attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being. Examples include depicting deities with human form and ascribing human emotions or motives to forces of nature and animals, such as hurricanes or pets.
  • applied ecology – the practice of employing ecological principles and understanding to solve real world problems (includes agroecology and conservation biology)
  • aquatic macrophytes – aquatic plants that are large enough to be apparent to the naked eye. They can be grouped into four basic categories. Some are rooted in the bottom sediments but protrude above the water’s surface (emersed) while others float on the water’s surface (floatingand floating-leaved). Still others grow completely below the water’s surface (submersed).
  • area effect (island biodiversity) – the hypothesis that larger islands can support more species than smaller islands
  • autecology – Also known as population ecology. It is a major sub-field of ecology that deals with the dynamics of species populations and how these populations interact with the environment.
  • autopoïesis – An organized self-contained system whose parts and systems integrate seamlessly in a relationship of form and function.
  • autotroph – an organism who makes its own food from inorganic materials.
  • axil – the angle found between any two organs or structures, as between a stem and leaf.
  • axillary – adj. in an axil, growing in an axil, as buds.


  • The Bambi effect- is a term used anecdotally or in editorial media that refers to objections against the killing of charismatic megafauna (animals that are perceived as “cute” or “adorable”, such as deer or dolphins), while there may be little or no objection to the suffering of organisms that are perceived as somehow repulsive or less than desirable, such as spiders or an endangered fungus and other woodland creatures.
  • bipinnately compound (leaf arrangement) – consists of two pinnately compound leaves attached opposite to the same leaf stalk. Also, each pinnately compound leaf consists of two rows of leaflets; arranged one on either side of the leaf stalk.
  • biogeochemical cycle – the pathway through which a chemical, element, or molecule moves through the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere.
  • Biogeography – the study of the geographic distributions of species
  • biomass – the sum of all living living organisms in an area.
  • biomass pyramid – also called an ecological pyramid, it is a graph that illustrates the productivity in a trophic level
  • biome – The total complex of biotic communities occupying and characterizing a particular area or zone
  • biosphere – the sphere of life; all living matter of the planet occupied by life
  • biogeographic realm – is the largest scale of the Earth’s surface based on the distribution patterns of plants and animals.
  • biogeography – the study of the distribution of organisms, past and present, and of diverse processes that underlie their distribution patterns
  • biological magnification – the increase in concentration of a substance
  • biota – the total collection of organisms of a geographic region or a time period.
  • biotic potential – under ideal conditions, the maximum rate of increase of a population in a given area
  • boreal forest – forest areas of the northern North Temperate Zone, mostly made of coniferous trees, also known as taiga.
  • bottom up cascade- occurs when a primary producer, or primary consumer is removed, and there is a diminishment of population size through the community.
  • bract – a modified leaf, growing at the base or on the stalk of a flower; usually differs from other leaves in shape or color. If bright colored, it helps attract pollinators.
  • bulb– In botany, a bulb is a short stem with fleshy leaves or leaf bases that function as food storage organs during dormancy


  • calyx (flower part) – all sepals of a flower combined together. (calices – plural).
  • cambium – in woody plants, the layer of tissue between the bark and wood that produces new cells.
  • carbon cycle – is the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth.
  • carrying capacity – the maximum number of individuals an environment’s resources can support, including the food and water available for the environment
  • cauliflory – referring to plants which flower and fruit from their main stems or woody trunks.
  • Charismatic megafauna – a species of large animal species with widespread popular appeal that environmental activists use to achieve conservation goals well beyond just those species. Examples include the Giant Panda, the Bengal Tiger, and the Blue Whale. See also: Flagship species
  • Chemical ecology – which deals with the ecological role of biological chemicals used in a wide range of areas including defense against predators and attraction of mates
  • climate change – change in weather conditions such as cloud cover wind speed, temperature, rainfall or humidity in a specific region.
  • cohert – an individual in a population that is of the same species
  • cladodes – are not leaves but swollen water-storing stem segments. In cladodes the leaves are often modified into spines, the function of spines is protection as well as to reduce transpiration. Examples: the cactuses or asparagus ferns.
  • climax community – a biological community of plants and animals that has reached a constant state occurring when the species is best adapted to average conditions in that area
  • climax-pattern model – a community is adapted to many environmental factors that vary in their influence over a region
  • colony collapse disorder (CCD) – a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear
  • conciliation biology- scientific approach which recognizes that mutual adaptation of native and non-native species is changing best practices for promoting biodiversity
  • conservation biology – scientific study of the earths biodiversity and aimed at protecting habitats and species from extinction.
  • conservation ecology – which studies how to reduce the risk of species extinction
  • commensalism – A symbiotic relationship between two organisms of different species in which one attains some benefits while the other is unaffected
  • communication display – a pattern of behavior that is a social signal, sending others a message through different displays of movement, and voice
  • communication signal – instinctive and learned behaviors by which animals send and receive to each other in information laden cues, encoded in stimuli.
  • community assembly theory – explains how environmentally similar sites have different species or similar species because of the resources they need or “niche requirements”
  • Community ecology (or synecology) – studies the interactions between species within an ecological community
  • competitive exclusion principle – states that two species can not both exist if they are competing for exactly the same resource. Therefore there is always one with a small advantage that will cause the other species in most cases to become extinct.
  • composite signal – a signal used in order to communicate which has information within more than a single cue.
  • coniferous forest – is a land biome, or large section of land
  • cotyledon – the first leaf or leaves of a seed plant, found in the embryo of the seed; may form the first photosynthetic leaves or may remain below ground. Also called seed leaf or leaves.
  • courtship display – Ritual social behavior between possible mates


  • deciduous broadleaf forest – a forest in a more mild climate with dry seasons, where the tree’s foliage changes with the varying seasons.
  • density-dependent control – any factors that affect individuals of a population and that vary with population density.
  • Desert ecology – The sum of the interactions between both biotic and abiotic factors of the desert biomes. including the interactions of plant, animal, and bacterial populations in a desert community.
  • desertification – a process by which areas become desertlike wastelands with low biodiversity
  • demographic transition model – a model, which represents a shift from high to low birth rates and death rates as part of the economic development of a country
  • denitrification – The breakdown of nitrates by anaerobic bacteria into other forms. Generally soil.
  • density independent factor – A factor that affects the size of a population regardless of the population density.
  • detrital food web – a food web depicting energy flow from photoautotrophs through detrivores and decomposers
  • detritivore – heterotrophs which consume decomposing bits of organic matter, such as leaf litter.
  • dicotyledons- also known as dicots, was a grouping formerly used for the flowering plants whose seed typically has two embryonic leaves or cotyledons.
  • dioecious plants- plants that have male (staminate) flowers on one plant, and female (pistillate) flowers on another plant.
  • distance effect (island biogeography) – the uniques assemblage of life form and species on an island
  • drupe – a fleshy or pulpy fruit with the inner portion of the pericap hard or stony and enclosing the seed.
  • dry woodland – a type of biome that forms when rainfall is averaging around 40 to 100 centimeters, and also has many tall trees
  • dominance hierarchy – organization of individuals into groups with a social structure.
  • Dominance species – a species which characterizes and predominates an ecological community as measured by primary productivity or biomass.
  • doubling time – the amount of time it a population takes to double its size.


  • ecological literacy – is the ability to understand the natural systems that make life on earth possible
  • ecological selection – ecological processes that operate on a species’ inherited traits without reference to mating or secondary sex characteristic.
  • Ecological succession – a focus on the understanding that directs vegetation change
  • ecophagy – the consuming of an ecosystem
  • Ecophysiology – which studies the interaction of physiological traits with the abiotic environment
  • ecopoiesis – fabrication of a sustainable ecosystem on a currently lifeless, sterile planet
  • ecoregion – a region defined by its geography and ecology
  • ecosynthesis – the use of introduced species to fill niches in a disrupted environment with the aim of increasing the speed of ecological restoration.
  • ecosystem – the total of interacting organisms (biocoenosis) and non-living things (biotope) in a specific environment
  • Ecosystem ecology – which studies how flows of energy and matter interact with biotic elements of ecosystems
  • Ecosystem function
  • ecosystem modeling – The use of mathematics, computer programs and models to understand and predict ecosystem behaviour
  • Ecosystem services – resources and processes that are supplied in a natural ecosystem that benefits organisms.
  • ecotone – a transition area between two adjacent but different landscape patches
  • ecotoxicology – looks at the ecological role of toxic chemicals (often pollutants, but also naturally occurring compounds)
  • El Niño – a band of anomalously warm ocean water temperatures that occasionally develops off the western coast of South America and can cause climatic changes across the Pacific Ocean
  • ecozone – an area that has characteristics of natural origin such as climate, terrain, vegetation, etc. It is also the largest division of the Earth’s surface filled with living organisms.
  • endangered species – a species that contains numbers so low that it risks becoming extinct
  • energy pyramid – a graphical representation designed to show the biomass or biomass productivity at each trophic level in a given ecosystem
  • environmental restoration – repairing damages to an area caused by humans, natural disasters or industry.
  • ethology – the study of animal behavior as behavioral ecology, a branch of zoology.
  • eutrophication – an increase in chemical nutrients in the ecosystem. It may occur on land or in water. This increase of chemicals usually causes an increase or decrease of plant growth.
  • evaporation – is the slow vaporization of water from either the soil or surface water.
  • evolutionary ecology – (or ecoevolution) the evolutionary changes in the context of the populations and communities in which the organisms exist
  • exponential growth – is the growth of a population that is consistent
  • estuary – a body of water on the coast attached to the ocean and rivers or streams that often give it a black color as a result of silt and sediment.


  • fall overturn – the mixing (or “turning over”) of water that takes place in autumn that reoxygenates the water.
  • fasciation (or cresting) is a relatively rare condition of abnormal growth in vascular plants in which the apical meristem (growing tip), that normally is concentrated around a single point and produces approximately cylindrical tissue, instead becomes elongated perpendicularly to the direction of growth, thus producing flattened, ribbon-like, crested, or elaborately contorted tissue. Fasciation can also cause plant parts to increase in weight and volume in some instances. The phenomenon may occur in the stem, root, fruit, or flower head. Some plants are grown and prized aesthetically for their development of fasciation.
  • fire ecology – which looks at the role of fire in the environment of plants and animals and its effect on ecological communities
  • fixed action pattern – is a behavior that is independent when changes in the environment occur
  • flagship species – is a species chosen to represent an environmental cause, such as an ecosystem in need of conservation.
  • food chain – a group of organisms interrelated by the fact that each member of the group feeds upon the one below it.
  • food web – a set of interconnected food chains by which energy and materials circulate within an ecosystem
  • forest ecology
  • foundation species – is a species of dominant primary producer in an ecosystem both in terms of abundance and influence.
  • founder effect – the accumulation of random genetic changes in an isolated population
  • functional ecology – the study of the roles, or functions, that certain species (or groups thereof) play in an ecosystem


  • Genetic bottleneck – is an evolutionary event in which a significant percentage of a population or species is killed or otherwise prevented from reproducing.
  • geographic dispersal – when an organism moves into another region to join another community.
  • glabrous – adj. without hairs
  • glaucous – adj. bluish green; covered with a pale green bloom.
  • Global ecology – examines ecological phenomena at the largest possible scale, addressing macroecological questions
  • global ecophagy – the consuming of an ecosystem.
  • global warming – the warming of the Earth’s average temperature of near-surface air and oceans
  • globose – adj. rounded; almost spherical; globular.
  • glochids- are tiny, finely barbed hair-like spines found on the areoles of some cacti and other plants. Cactus glochids easily detach from the plant and become lodged in the skin, causing irritation upon contact. The tufts of glochids may cover some cactus species, each tuft containing hundreds of glochids; this may be in addition to, or instead of, the larger, more typical cactus spines, which do not detach.
  • grassland – and where grass or grasslike vegetation grows as the dominant form of plant life
  • greenhouse effect – warming that results when solar radiation is trapped by the atmosphere, which is caused by gases that allow sunshine to pass through but absorb heat that is radiated back from the warmed surface of the earth


  • habitat connectivity – Allowing for the conservation or maintenance of continuous or connected habitats, so as to preserve movements and exchanges associated with the habitat.
  • habitat corridors – a strip of land that helps with the movement of a species between disconnected areas of their natural habitat.
  • habitat fragmentation – a process of environmental change that involves the discontinuations, or fragmenting, of a species’ natural habitat.
  • homeostasis – the property of a system that regulates the internal environment and maintains a constant and stable condition. ex: endothermic animals maintain a constant body temperature.
  • hortic– soil science – Modified by deep cultivation, manure use, and the presence of other anthropogenic organic matter such as kitchen waste.
  • human ecology – a field of study that deals with relationships between humans and their societies; their natural, social, and created environments.
  • hydrologic cycle – the cycle or process of evaporation and condensation of water, and its distribution across the earth driven by solar energy
  • hydrosphere – the water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere
  • hydrothermal vent – an underwater steaming fissure that has unique ecosystems.


  • inflorescence – a cluster or arrangement of flowers on an axis; a flowering branch.
  • ion exchange – A reversible chemical reaction when ions with the same charge can be switched. This can be used in purification of a substance.
  • illegitimate receiver – An organism that is not intended to receive another organism’s signal, but intercepts it anyway, to the fitness detriment of either the signaler or a legitimate receiver of the signal.
  • illegitimate signaler – a predatory species will mimic signals to lure in their prey.
  • imprinting – a time-dependent form of learning triggered by exposure to sign stimuli
  • indicator species – is any biological species that defines a trait or characteristic of the environment. The presence and/or abundance of organisms of these species are typically used to indicate the health and an ecosystem
  • inflorescence- is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches.
  • infructescence– the fruiting stage of an inflorescence.
  • Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis – a theory that tries to predict how a species diversity will change with changing levels of disturbance
  • iteroparity – a plant species is iteroparous if it is characterized by multiple reproductive cycles over the course of its lifetime
  • interspecific competition – this occurs when different species try to use the same resources in an environment
  • Intertidal zone – Area exposed to the air during low tide.
  • invasive species – a non-native species whose introduction to an area is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health


  • jungle – A large, undeveloped, humid forest that is home to many wild plants and animals.


  • K-selected species – the species that is a group of strong competitors in a crowded environment and have fewer but stronger offspring.
  • keystone species – keystone species is a species that has a disproportionate effect on its environment relative to its abundance. Such species affect many other organisms in an ecosystem and help to determine the types and numbers of various others species in a community.
  • Köppen climate classification depends on average monthly values of temperature and precipitation. The most commonly used form of the Köppen classification has five primary types labeled A through E. These primary types are A, tropical; B, dry; C, mild mid-latitude; D, cold mid-latitude; and E, polar. The five primary classifications can be further divided into secondary classifications such as rain forest, monsoon, tropical savanna, humid subtropical, humid continental, oceanic climate, Mediterranean climate, steppe, subarctic climate, tundra, polar ice cap, and desert.


  • La Niña – when the ocean surface cools
  • leaflet – individual blades found in a compound leaf.
  • Lek – type of animal territory in which males of a certain species gather to demonstrate their prowess before or during mating season
  • lichen- a composite organism consisting of a fungus (the mycobiont) and a photosynthetic partner (the photobiont or phycobiont) growing together in a symbiotic relationship.
  • ligneous-a woody plant is a plant that produces wood as its structural tissue. Woody plants are usually either trees, shrubs, or lianas.
  • ligule – thin, membranous extension of the leaf sheath on the upper surface of the leaf; may be hairy or bristly, hard or soft. Example: vasey grass.
  • lithosphere- the outermost shell of a planet; the crust and the portion of the upper mantle that behaves elastically on time scales of thousands of years or greater. The outermost shell of a rocky planet defined on the basis of the chemistry and mineralogy is a crust.
  • logistic curve – an S shaped curve that usually represents population growth.
  • Lotka–Volterra equation – an ecological predator-prey model


  • macroecology – the study of large scale ecological phenomena
  • mangrove wetland – mangroves are most often defined as trees or shubs found in sub tropic climates. where plants “assemblage or mangal” and provide habitat for many marine organisms
  • marcescence– is the retention of dead plant organs that normally are shed. It is most obvious in deciduous trees that retain leaves through the winter. Several trees normally have marcescent leaves such as oak.
  • marine ecology – and aquatic ecology, where the dominant environmental milieu is water
  • marine snow – tiny particles, including dead organic matter from the upper layers of the ocean, sinking deep into the ocean
  • mark and recapture – used to estimate populations and find survival rates, movement and growth.
  • mesopredator release hypothesis – hypothesis that states as top predators dwindle in an ecosystem an increase in the populations of mesopredators occur
  • metabolic theory of ecology – theory that explains the relationship between an organism’s body mass and metabolic rate
  • microbial ecology – the ecology of micro-organisms
  • micro-climate – an area influenced by either natural or manmade features that change the climatic conditions from the normal regional climate
  • microecology – the study of small scale ecological phenomena
  • migration – the movement of organisms from one place to another
  • mimicry – imitative behavior. animal species resembling one another.
  • molecular assembler
  • molecular ecology – a field of evolutionary biology concerned with applying molecular population genetics, molecular phylogenetics, and genomics to traditional ecological questions. Essentially the same as ecological genetics
  • molecular engineering – any means of creating molecules through the use of technology
  • monocotyledons also known as monocots, are one of two major groups of flowering plants (or angiosperms) that are traditionally recognized, the other being dicotyledons, or dicots. Monocot seedlings typically have one cotyledon (seed-leaf)
  • monoecious plants- plants that have separate male and female flowers on the same plant.
  • monopodial-growth habits in plants when they grow upward from a single point. Monopodial plants add leaves to the apex each year and the stem grows longer accordingly. The word Monopodial is derived from Greek “mono-“, one and “podial”, “foot”, in reference to the fact that monopodial plants have a single trunk or stem.
  • monsoon – air circulation patterns that influence the continents north or south of warm oceans
  • mosaic– A pattern consisting of numerous small pieces (or elements) fitted together.
  • mutualism – A biological interaction between individuals of two different species, where each individual derives a fitness benefit. It includes relationships which are mutualistic, parasitic or commensal.


  • natural selection – happens over a long period of time and is defined as a certain trait and how species with this trait can or can not survive, and how it affects the reproduction of this good or bad trait. Therefore if a species carries a bad trait that lowers its survival rate its reproductive rate will lower as well.
  • natural resource – naturally forming substances that are considered valuable in their natural or unrefined form
  • naturalization- to adapt or acclimate (a plant or animal) to a new environment; introduce and establish as if native.
  • negative feedback loop – feedback that reduces the output of a system. ex. when the temperature rises in a room, it turns off the thermostat so that the temperature remains stable
  • neutralism – belief that changes in evolution are caused by random mutation rather than by natural selection.
  • niche – a position or function of an organism in a community of related organisms.
  • nitrification – the oxidation of ammonia with oxygen into nitrite
  • nitrogen cycle – this is a continuous cycle by which nitrogen from the atmosphere and compounded nitrogen keeps getting exhanged through the soil into substances that can be taken up and used by green plants, what is left returns to the air as a result of denitrification.
  • nitrogen fixation – conversion of nitrogen into nitrogen compounds (ex. nitrate and nitrite) that is carried out naturally by certain bacteria and algae – a science which seeks to understand the relationships between species in fossil assemblages


  • paleoecology – a science which seeks to understand the relationships between species in fossil assemblages
  • palmately compound (leaf arrangement– leaflets that originate from a common center.
  • parasite – an organism which survives with another through a symbiotic relationship with another organism—its host—which it does not usually kill directly but does negatively affect.
  • parasitoid – An organism that is a parasite for most of its life and will usually kill its host
  • pedicel– The stalk of each single flower
  • peduncle– The stem holding the whole inflorescence of a plant
  • permafrost – permanently frozen layer of terrain found beneath the arctic tundra
  • per capita – a measurement indicating “per unit of population”
  • petiole – adj. the slender stalk or stem of a leaf (small foot); also called a leaf stalk
  • pheromone – a chemical which is typically given off into the environment as a signal which causes a natural behavioral response in members of the same species
  • phyllotaxis– the arrangement of leaves on a plant stem (from Ancient Greek phýllon “leaf” and táxis “arrangement”). Phyllotactic spirals form a distinctive class of patterns in nature. It means that in plants leaves can be ‘opposite’, or ‘alternate’ (when a spiral forms as in a ‘rosette’)
  • phosphorus cycle – the biogeochemical cycle that describes the movement of phosphorus through the environment
  • pioneer species – hardy species which are the first to colonize previously disrupted or damaged ecosystems, beginning a chain of ecological succession that ultimately leads to a more biodiverse steady-state ecosystem
  • pistil – the female reproductive organ of a flower; may be comprised of a single carpel (consisting of stigma, style and ovary) or two or more carpels united.
  • pollination – a type of fertilization and reproduction where the transpoatation of pollen grains from plants to ovure- bearing organs. This takes place by either wind, water, or animal assistance
  • pollinator decline -refers to the reduction in abundance of pollinators in many ecosystems worldwide during the end of the twentieth century.population density – the number of individuals of a species living per unit of an area.
  • political ecology – a theoretical lens focusing on how political and economic power effects ecology, as well as how ecology can also shape the political economy, by understanding and analyzing environmental influences on social activity.
  • population ecology (or autecology) – deals with the dynamics of populations within species, and the interactions of these populations with environmental factors
  • population pyramid – a graphic illustration which shows the age structure in a population (typically that of a country or region of the world), which normally forms the shape of apyramid.
  • population size – the number of individuals of a species in a particular geographic range.
  • predation – the interaction among populations when one organism consumes another one.
  • predator – an organism that lives by killing and consuming another living organism.
  • prey – living organisms that predators feed on
  • primary producer – an autotroph that obtains energy directly from the nonliving environment through photosynthesis or less commonly through chemosynthesis
  • primary production – production of organic compounds from carbon through photosynthesis. This effects all life on Earth either directly or indirectly
  • protocooperation – two species interact with each other beneficially
  • propagulum or propagule – a runner or sucker used in the asexual reproduction and dispersal of plants
  • pseudanthium (Greek for “false flower”) or flower head is a special type of inflorescence, in which anything from a small cluster to hundreds or sometimes thousands of flowers are grouped together to form a single flower-like structure. Pseudanthia take various forms. The individual flowers of a pseudanthium commonly are called florets. The real flowers (the florets) are generally small and often greatly reduced, but the pseudanthium itself can sometimes be quite large (as in the heads of some varieties of sunflower).
  • population distribution – means the pattern of where people and animals live. Throughout the world distribution is uneven for example places which contain small amounts of people are considered sparsely populated whereas places which are densely populated contain many people.


  • quadrat – 1. A piece of type metal used for filling spaces. 2. A quad

a rectangular plot of land extensively studied for its ecology


  • raceme – an inflorescence with many flowers arranged along an axis.
  • rachis– the main stem holding the flowers or more branches within the inflorescence
  • rain shadow – A dry area of land that is leeward of a mountain range that results in arid or semiarid conditions
  • reproductive base – includes all members of a population that are of reproductive and pre-reproductive ages.
  • restinga– a spit and a distinct type of coastal Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forest, found in eastern Brazil.
    Restingas form on sandy, acidic, and nutrient-poor soils, and are characterized by medium sized trees and shrubs adapted to the drier and nutrient-poor conditions. One of the most notable restingas is the Restingas da Marambaia (in Rio de Janeiro), which is owned and kept by the Brazilian Army. There is the Atlantic Coast resting, and Northeastern Brazil restingas.
  • resource partitioning – when two or more species share, and compete for a resource in different ways in order for both species to coexist
  • Restoration ecology – attempts to understand the ecological basis needed to restore impaired or damaged ecosystems
  • rhizome – a subterranean horizontal root-like stem sending out leaves and shoots from its upper surface and roots from its lower surface
  • R-selected species – A species selected for its superiority in variable or unpredictable environments
  • runner – n. a slender creeping stem that puts forth roots from nodes, spaced at intervals along its length. New plants eventually grow from the nodes and can become detached from the parent plant
  • run-off – the flow of water over land from rain, melting snow, or other sources


  • salverform-composed of united petals forming a tube that spreads at the open end.
  • scape– In botany, a “scape” is a long internode forming the basal part or the whole of a peduncle. Typically it takes the form of a long, leafless flowering stem rising directly from a bulb, rhizome, or similar subterranean or underwater structure.
  • scarification in botany involves cutting the seed coat using abrasion, thermal stress, or chemicals to encourage germination.
  • secondary succession – succession that occurs after the original population has been destroyed or disturbed, as with a forest fire
  • semelparity-A species is considered semelparous if it is characterized by a single reproductive episode before death
  • sessility- (meaning “sitting”, used in the sense of “resting on the surface”) is a characteristic of plants whose flowers or leaves are borne directly from the stem or peduncle, and thus lack a petiole or pedicel.
  • sexual selection – a trait that makes an individual more likely to find a mate than others. A microevolutionary process.
  • sign stimulus – Fixed action patterns such as mating dances.
  • signal receiver – The individual who is responding to the communication signals sent by the signaler.
  • signaler – a way to capture attention from a species
  • social parasite – A group or individual that latches on to another group or individual to benefit itself. This type of process affects the original pattern of the group its feeding off.
  • soil ecology – the ecology of the pedosphere
  • soil pH –The soil pH is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity in soils. A pH below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline. Soil pH is considered a master variable in soils as it controls many chemical processes that take place. It specifically affects plant nutrient availability by controlling the chemical forms of the nutrient. The optimum pH range for most plants is between 5.5 and 7.0.
  • song system – a series of discrete brain nuclei used to produce and learn certain songs of songbirds.
  • source-sink dynamics – a theoretical model used by ecologists to describe how variation in habitat quality may affect the population growth or decline of organisms
  • southern pine forests – a forest consisting of a pine species that thrives in the sandy, dry, and nutrient-poor soil on the coastal plains of the south Atlantic and Gulf states.
  • speciation – the evolutionary process where new biological species come about
  • spring overturn – the mixing of lake waters through the melting of ice cover, the warming of surface waters, convection currents, and wind action occurring in spring
  • sulfur cycle -the collection of processes by which sulfur moves to and from minerals (including the waterways) and living systems
  • stigma – n. the upper tip or part of the pistil of a flower receiving the pollen. It is generally situated at the upper extremity of the style
  • stream – a flowing-water ecosystem that starts out as freshwater springs or seeps
  • survivorship curve – a graph showing the number or proportion of individuals surviving at each age for a given species
  • sympodial-(literally “with conjoined feet”) is the outward morphology or mode of growth of organisms. Plants with sympodial growth have a specialized lateral growth pattern in which the apical meristem is terminated. The apical meristem can either be consumed to make an inflorescence or other determinate structure, or it can be aborted. Growth is continued by a lateral meristem, which repeats the process. The result is that the stem, which may appear to be continuous, is in fact derived from multiple meristems, rather than a monopodial plant whose stems derive from one meristem only.
  • synecology- a branch of ecology that deals with the structure, development, and distribution of ecological communities


  • tactile display – when a signlar touches the receiver in ritualized ways
  • Taylor’s law-describes the species-specific relationship between the temporal or spatial variance of populations and their mean abundances.
  • Tectonic–climatic interaction refers to Earth’s natural climatic and tectonic processes and the potential influences exerted on each other. The geologic processes include orogenesis, volcanism, and erosion and the climatic processes include atmospheric circulation, orographic lift, monsoon circulation and the rain shadow effect.
  • Theoretical ecology – the development of ecological theory, usually with mathematical, statistical and/or computer modeling tools
  • total fertility rate – the average number of children that a mother bears in a population during their years of reproduction.
  • trophic cascade- when predators in a food web suppress the abundance and/or alter traits (e.g., behavior) of their prey, thereby releasing the next lower trophic level from predation
  • trophic level – where an organism is on the food chain—what it eats, and what eats it
  • top down cascade- a trophic cascade where the food chain or food web is disrupted by the removal of a top predator, or a third or fourth level consumer
  • tropical rain forest – a biome characterized by regular, heavy rainfall, with a humidity of 80 plus percent, and biodiversity
  • tundra – a permanently frozen, treeless expanse between the icecap and treeline of Arctic regions


  • umbrella species – species which are selected for making conservation related decisions, typically because protecting these species indirectly protects the many other species that make up the ecological community of itshabitat.
  • ultra Plankton – a large breed of sea plankton found in marine environments.
  • upwelling – when the flow of water is in an upward direction created by atmospheric winds that blow over the ocean’s surface away from the coastline and cause deeper, colder, water to rise to the top.
  • Urban ecology – the study of ecosystems in urban areas


  • Verhulst equation- a model of population growth first published by Pierre Verhulst (1845, 1847). The model is continuous in time, but a modification of the continuous equation to a discrete quadratic recurrence equation known as the logistic map is also widely used.
  • virology- study of viruses, submicroscopic, parasitic particles of genetic material contained in a protein coat
  • virus – an infectious agent (that can only be seen by a microscope) that is capable of growing and reproducing outside of a host cell. Viruses can infect all forms of cellular life.


  • warning coloration – a warning signal that prey uses to warn off predators
  • water cycle – (a.k.a. hydrologic cycle) the nonstop movement of water on, above, and below Earth’s surface. The water changes between liquid, vapor, and ice at different times during the cycle.
  • water vapour – the gaseous state of water.
  • watershed – the land where water from rain and show melts drains downhil into a body of water (i.e. a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean).
  • web of life – also known as the food chain, food network, or trophic social network. It describes the eating relationships between different specied in a certain ecosystem.


  • xeric – extremely dry.
  • xylophagous – feeding on wood


  • Yellow rain – A powdery, poisonous, yellow substance reported as dropping from the air in southeast Asia and found to be the excrement of wild honeybees contaminated by a fungal toxin


  • zero population growth – The population of a given area neither increases or decreases over a period of time.
  • zygomorphic– having floral parts unequal in size or form so that the flower is capable of division into essentially symmetrical halves by only one longitudinal plane passing through the axis

10 thoughts on “Botanical Glossary

  1. I agree with Sue !
    I have the Hortica, I have spent hours wandering through it to every corner of the earth, *sigh* to have 3 of each 🙂 the only draw back is it is so heavy, but the info is incredible…
    This is a really good post Maria, Thank you for sharing….
    Take Care…You Matter…


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