Trees and Plants Gardening Glossary

Nature Hills Nursery has put together this gardening glossary to help you with some of the terminology used relating to trees and plants. Terms are defined in alphabetical order.

Acid soil - A description of the soil's pH. Acidic soils have a pH below 7.0.
Acorn - The nutlike fruit of oaks.
Acuminate - Tapering to a point.
Acute - Short tapered, sharp tip, but less tapering than acuminate.
Alkaline soil - With a pH value of more than 7.0.
Alternate - Arising from different points and on opposite sides, of an axis. Only one leaf per node.
Anther - The pollen bearing terminal part of a stamen.
Apex - The tip or growing point, the upper or outer end.
Aristate - The tip is a stiff, sharp bristle.
Axis -The central shoot of a compound leaf, cone, inflorescence, root, etc.
Basal - Originating from the base.
Berry - A fleshy indehisent pulpy, succulent fruit with immersed seeds.
Bipinnate - Doubly or twice pinnate. (Bipinnately compound).
Blade - The broad, flat part of a leaf.
Bract - Modified leaf, generally associated with an inflorescence. Bracts may resemble normal leaves or be reduced and scalelike in appearance; they are sometimes large and brightly colored.
Capsule - Thin walled dry fruit containing 2 or more seeds and usually dehiscent.
Catkin - Compact usually pendulous spike of unisexual flowers, as in birches, willows, poplars, oaks, walnuts.
Caudate - Having a slender tail-like appendage.
Chlorotic - Lacking in chlorophyll, typically yellow in color.
Clay - A minute soil particle less than .002 mil. in diameter.
Cleft - A leaf cut in about halfway to the midrib as in maple, liquidambar, sycamore.
Compound leaf - Leaf whose blade is divided into two or more leaflets.
Cone - Conical woody fruit consisting of seed-bearing, overlapping scales around a central axis.
Conifer - Cone bearing tree or the pine family, usually evergreen.
Cordate - Heart shaped.
Coriaceous - Leathery in texture.
Crown - Parts of the tree above the trunk, including leaves, branches and scaffold, limbs.
Crownshaft - A tight bundle of very erect leaf bases that form a green pillar at the top of the woody trunk.
Cultivar - Cultivated variety. Maybe a field selection man-made cross or hybrid.
Cuneate - Wedge-shaped; triangular, with narrow part at point of attachment.
Deciduous - Shedding all its leaves seasonally, leafless for part of the year.
Deltoid - An equilateral triangular - attached at the center or one side.
Dentate - Having marginal teeth pointing outward, perpendicular to the margin.
Dioecious - Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants.
Doubly serrate leaves - Large teeth and small teeth alternating.
Drupe - (stone fruit) - A fleshy one-seeded fruit which contains a single stone which in turn contains the seed.
Elliptic (leaf) - Elongately oval, about twice as long as wide, and broadest at the middle.
Emarginate- Having a shallow notch at the apex.
Entire Margins - Undivided and without teeth.
Falcate - Sickle shaped; asymmetric.
Frond - Term used for the leaves of palms and ferns.
Fruit - The seed-bearing organ.
Glabrous - Hairless; smooth.
Hardscape - The sidewalk, curb, gutter, and street covering the soil surface.
Herbaceous - Non-woody plant, having the characteristics of an herb.
Indehiscent - Not opening to release it's contents.
Inflorescence - The flowering part of a plant.
Lanceolate - Shaped like a lance, much longer than broad, pointed at the tip and widest near the base.
Leaf - Outgrowth from the stem may consist of two parts, the stalk or petiole (when present) and the blade or leaf proper, which may be single (simple leaf) or divided into leaflets (compound leaf).
Leaflet - A segment of a compound leaf.
Legume - A dry pod-like fruit, belonging to member of the Pea Family, usually dehiscent, opening along longitudinal suture.
Lenticel - A small, usually corky area on a stem or other part of a plant, which acts as a gas exchange pore.
Linear - Long, narrow, and parallel-sided. Growing in one plane on a stem, like feathers.
Loam - Textural class name for soils having moderate amounts of sand, silt and clay.
Lobe - Any protruding part of an organ, as in an oak leaf. Having the edge of the leaf deeply but not completely divided.
Midrib - The central rib of a leaf or other organ.
Monoecious- Male and female flowers are borne on the same plant.
Mucronate- Having a small, hard point, as the projection of the mid rib of a leaf.
Node - The point on stem where one or more leaves and/or buds are attached.
Nut - A dry, usually large, indehiscent fruit with a thick, hard shell, usually one-seeded, and edible.
Oblong- Longer than wide with nearly parallel edges, wider than linear.
Obovate - Inversely ovate, broader at the tip, narrow near the stalk.
Obtuse - Having a blunt or rounded leaf apex.
Opposite - Leaf arrangement in which leaves arise in pairs at each node; not alternate or whorled.
Oval - Broad-elliptic, about 1 1/2 times as long as broad and round at the ends.
Ovate- Egg-shaped, attached at the broad end.
Palmate - Veined, lobbed or divided as the fingers or a hand.
Palmately compound - Leaflets radiating out from a common point.
Peduncle - The stalk of a flower cluster.
Peltate - Shield shaped, with the stalk attached near the middle instead of the base or margin.
Pendulous - Hanging, weeping.
Perfect - A flower having both male and female parts (bisexual).
Perennial - A plant that lives for more than 3 years.
Petiole - Leaf stalk connecting leaf blade to the stem.
Pinna (pl. pinnae) - The primary division of a compound leaf.
Pinnate (Pinately compound) - Leaflets or venation arranged on either side of a central axis, resembling a feather.
Pod - Dry , 1 celled fruit, splitting along natural grooved lines, with thicker wall than a capsule, see Legume.
Pome - Fleshy indehiscent fruit from a compound ovary.
Pubescent - Covered with short sort hair.
Revolute - The leaf margins are curved backwards or downwards towards the underside.
Sagittate - Arrowhead-shaped, with the basal lobes turned downward.
Samara - A dry, one-seeded fruit bearing a single wing.
Serrate - Saw-toothed.
Shrub - A woody perennial plant, usually with multiple stems, smaller than a tree.
Simple - A leaf with a single blade, undivided, unbranched, not compound.
Stalk - The stem or petiole or leaf, flower or other plant organ.
Stamen - The male part of a flower, consisting of a threadlike filament and a pollen-bearing anther.
Succulent - Juicy, fleshy, soft.
Syconium - A fleshy receptacle, which contain unisexual flowers, borne inside the fruit, typical of the genus ficus.
Ternate - Arranged in three's.
Trees - Highly compartmented, woody, perennial, are usually tall, single-stemmed, and long-lived.
Whorl leaves -A group of three or more leaves arising at a single node.