Glossary of Plant Terms

Annual:  A plant which completes its whole life cycle, from seed to fruit, in one year.  Some plants which are perennial in their native (e.g. tropical) lands are treated as if they are annuals in countries with colder climates.

Anther: The pollen producing sac on the stamen.

Berry:  A fleshy small fruit containing seeds e.g. Blackberry, Grape, and Strawberry.  Most berries are edible, but some such as the berries from the Deadly Nightshade, are toxic.

Bulbs:  A plant storage organ which is normally underground.  It is made up of layers of moulded leaves which are wrapped around each other.  In Lily bulbs, they are made up of separate scaled leaves.  It contains the young plant.  Some common plants grown from bulbs include Daffodils, Hyacinth, and Tulips.

Cactus:  A succulent plant belonging to the Cactaceae family.

Corm:  A plant storage organ which is composed of a bulbous underground stem which is usually covered with a papery skin.  The new shoots and root of the plant appear from the small bud at the top of the corm.  Some common plants which grow from corms are the Crocus, Gladiolus, Iris, and Montbretia.

Filament:  The stalk of the stamen which leads to the anther.

Fruit:  The mature ovary or ripened seed-bearing part of the plant.  It is the means by which the plant disseminates seeds.  Normally seeds are encased in a fleshy material which is edible. This includes fruits such as apple, tomato, cucumber and pumpkin.

Perennial:  A plant which requires two years or more to flower, and which tends to live for more than two years.

Pip:  A small hard seed contained within the fruit.

Rhizome:  An underground creeping stem which sends out shoots above and roots below.  Sometimes the rhizomes of plants such as Iris, grow on, or very close to the soil surface.  Some common rhizomes include Bamboo, Ginger, Peony, Solomon's Seal, and also some Ferns.

Seed:  A fertilised ovule, containing the plant embryo, covered by a protective coat and containing nutrients to enable the embryo to grow and develop.

Shrub:  A woody branching plant with stems arising at or near the ground.

Stamen:  The male reproductive flower part, comprising the anther and the filament.

Stigma:  The female reproductive part of the flower where the pollen grains are deposited.

Style:  The stalk joining the flower ovary to the stigma - carries the pollen.

Succulent:  Plants with fleshy foliage and stalks.  A succulent is a water-retaining plant which has adapted to survive in extreme conditions of drought.

Toxic plant:  One that is capable of causing injury when touched or eaten, and if consumed in sufficient quantity may cause death.

Tree:  A woody perennial plant with a main stem or trunk and featuring lateral branches at some distance from the ground.

Tuber:  A plant nutrient storage unit comprising of a thickened underground fleshy root in plants such as the Dahlia or a thickened underground stem such as the Potato.

Variegated:  Marked with different patches of colour; dappled.

Vegetable:  This is the edible part of the plant, such as the root, the tuber, the stem, the flowers or the green leafy part of the plant.  This will include such vegetables as Potato, Rhubarb, Beetroot, Onion, Cabbage and Broccoli.