Glossary of Botanical Terms

Bacteria: Very small, single-celled organisms that are important, among other things, in the formation of soil types.

Chlorophyll: The coloring matter produced by all green plants, which assists the plant in using sunlight to produce food (see also photosynthesis.)

Deciduous: A plant which sheds its leaves each year.

Dichotomous key: A system of identifying objects (such as plants,) in which a succession of paired choices leads progressively to identification of the object (the only remaining correct choice.)

Ecosystem: A community of plants and animals, and the nature of their relationships to each other and to the environment in which they live. Forests, oceans, marshlands, and deserts represent different types of ecosystems.

Evergreen: Those plants which keep their green leaves throughout the year.

Food chain: Members of plant and animal communities (ecosystems) whose relationship includes dependence on each other as sources of food.

Fungus (plural, Fungi): A plant, usually small, which is dependent upon another plant or organism for food. Fungi are capable of breaking-down many types of organic matter (the process of decomposition,) and are therefore important to the formation of soils and the cycling of nutrients.

Leaflet: A subunit of a larger leaf called a compound leaf (See also Leaf Types.)

Leaf Shapes:

Leaf Types:

Pioneer plant: One that comes into an area via an outside source (also called an immigrant.) Seeds of such plants may travel from one area into another via wind or water, or carried by wildlife.

Photosynthesis: The process by which plants utilize carbon dioxide, water, chlorophyll and sunlight, to produce the sugars required for plant growth.

Seed pod: The protective enclosure, shell, or case surrounding a seed. The pea, for example, has a long, thin seed pod containing numerous seeds.

Stipule: A small bud found where the leaf connects to the stem.

Tendril: A threadlike projection from a stem which allows it to cling-to or coil around another surface.

Vine: Any plant with long, thin stems that grow along the ground or climb up surfaces, maintaining contact by means of tendrils.

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