Desert Connections Glossary

  • Annual – a plant that completes its entire life cycle within one growing season

  • Anther – the pollen bearing part of a stamen

  • Arid or natural zone – area of landscape featuring drought resistant and native plants requiring only annual rainfall or occasional supplemental watering once established

  • Axil – the junction between a stem and a leaf

  • Biennial – a plant that normally requires two growing seasons to complete the life cycle; only vegetative growth occurs the first year; flowering and fruiting occur the second year

  • Bipinnate – twice divided

  • Bract – a modified and reduced leaf supporting a flower or cluster of flowers

  • Branchlet - except for a twig, the youngest and smallest division of a branch

  • Calyx – the outermost “envelope” of a complete flower

  • Capsule – a dry seedpod that splits open when ripe

  • Caudex – the base of a plant, an imaginary line (or axis) between stem and root

  • Channeled – a leaf with a deep “gutter” running lengthwise

  • Complete flower – a flower that has sepals, petals, stamens and one or more pistils

  • Composite – a member of a family of plants in which several or many flowers are together on one receptacle

  • Corolla – the inner floral envelope (petals of a flower) nested within the calyx; generally not green in color

  • Cultivar – a plant variety maintained in cultivation by vegetative propagation or from inbred seed

  • Cyme – a branched flower cluster that blooms from the center toward the edges

  • Deciduous – a term used to describe trees or shrubs that drop all their leaves to survive a cold or dry season

  • Dioecious – having male and female flowers on separate plants

  • Disk – the central portion of the head of a composite as distinguished from the rays

  • Evergreen – a plant that retains its leaves for more than one annual cycle of growth

  • Follicle – a dry, single-chambered fruit that splits along only one seam to release its seeds

  • Head – a dense, compact cluster of flowers

  • Herbaceous – refers to a plant that does not have permanent stems above ground—a plant with annual growth from a perennial root.

  • Keel – a sharp ridge or rib on the underside of a petal, leaf, or other plant part

  • Leaflet – one of the divisions of a compound leaf

  • Legume – a member of the Pea or Bean Family of plants

  • Lip – the lower or upper part of a corolla (or calyx) that has all its petals (or sepals) touching one another, but divided into two “lips”, rather than arranged symmetrically

  • Mini-oasis zone – a lusher-looking zone, usually nearest to the house, where the highest water-using plants are grouped together

  • Node – A point along the stem where a leaf or whorl of leaves are attached; the “knot” on a grass stem

  • Ovary – the lower part of the pistil which contains the ovules

  • Ovules – structures inside the ovary that develop into seeds after fertilization

  • Perennial – a plant that continues to live and grow year after year

  • Petal – one of the segments of the inner floral envelope, or corolla

  • Pinna (plural pinnae) – from the Latin word for feather—a primary division of a leaf or frond that has leaflets arranged on either side of a common central stalk (as with desert ironwood or sago palm); the leaflets themselves may in turn be pinnate (as in acacia or mesquite)

  • Pistil – the female organ of a flower

  • Pollen – sometimes called “microspores”, it is the dust-like powder produced by the anthers of flowering plants which, when brought into contact with the female organs of the flower, fertilizes the ovules

  • Pollinate – to apply pollen to the receptive surface of the female organ of a flower

  • Pollinator – an agent that places pollen on the receptive surface of the female organ of a flower

  • Prickle – an outgrowth of the bark, as those of a rose

  • Ray flower – a composite flower with strap-shaped corolla, usually arranged symmetrically around the disk (and often mistaken for a petal)

  • Receptacle – the upper end of a flower stalk upon which numerous flowers or the organs of a single flower are borne

  • Rhizome – a thick modified stem growing horizontally along or under the soil surface, as with an Iris

  • Rosette – a cluster of basal (ground level) leaves, more or less symmetrically arranged

  • Scarification – seed treatment (either natural or employed by man) that breaks dormancy by use of abrasives, heat, cold or chemicals, in order to penetrate a hard seed coat

  • Seed – a fertilized and matured ovule of a flowering plant

  • Sepal – one of the parts of the calyx

  • Spike – an elongated flower cluster with individual flowers borne on very short stalks or attached directly to the main stem

  • Stamen – the male organ of a flower

  • Stigma – the part of the pistil that receives the pollen

  • Style – the elongated part of a pistil between the stigma and the ovary.

  • Taproot – the main root of a plant that grows straight down, like the root of a carrot

  • Transition zone – a landscape zone intermediate between the mini-oasis and the arid zone, using plants with low to moderate water needs, usually once a week or less often.

  • Umbel – a flower cluster in which the individual flower stalks emerge from the same point on the stem, like the ribs of an umbrella (as with dill or parsley)

  • Xerophytic – characterizing a plant that can subsist with a small amount of moisture; a desert plant

 
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