New Hampshire Wildflowers


The following terms are commonly used to describe plants and plant parts. Many are familiar and need no explanation. Some may not be so familiar. All are not necessarily used on this website but are offered with the purpose of enhancing one's understanding of wildflowers and flowers in general.

Achene: A small, dry, hard, seed-like fruit that does not open and contains one seed.

Alternate leaves: not opposite along a stem or in whorls, but positioned singly.

Annual: Having a life cycle completed in one year or one season.

Anther: The enlarged part of the stamen bearing the pollen.

Aquatic: A plant growing in water.

Axil: The upper angle where the leaf joins the stem.

Basal: Located at the base of the stem.

Beak: An elongated tip.

Bearded: Bearing a tuft or ring of long or stiff hairs.

Berry: A fleshy fruit with one, or many, seeds, developed from a single ovary.

Blade: The flat, expanded part of a leaf, petal or sepal.

Bloom: A powdery, waxy or whitish coating on stem, leaf or fruit, easily rubbed off.

Bract: Small or modified leaf usually at the base of a flower or flower cluster.

Bud: An undeveloped leaf, stem, or flower, often enclosed in scales; a flower not completely opened.

Bulb: An underground bud with thick, fleshy food-storing scales.

Bulblet: A small bulb most likely in a leaf axil or in an inflorescence.

Calyx: The outer circle of floral leaves (sepals); usually green, sometimes similar to petals; may be separate or joined.

Capsule: A dry, typically thin-walled fruit with one or more compartments.

Clasping leaf: A leaf partially or wholly surrounding the stem.

Cleft: Deeply cut.

Compound leaf: A leaf divided into separate smaller leaflets.

Corolla: The collective term for the petals of a flower. The showy inner circle of flower parts. The petals may be separate or joined.

Corona: A crown-like structure between the corolla and stamens on some flowers.

Creeping: Running along the ground and rooting as it trails.

Cyme: A generally flat-topped, branched flower cluster in which the branches are typically opposite.

Disk flowers: The round or button-like center part of the flowering head in members of the aster family composed of numerous tiny tubular disk flowers, usually surrounded by a circle of ray flowers.

Divided leaf: A deeply cut leaf, the cleft not reaching to the midrib.

Downy: Covered with very fine and soft hairs.

Drupe: A fleshy fruit with a hard nut or stone, such as a cherry.

Elliptical: Broader in the middle and tapering toward each end equally.

Emergent: An aquatic plant with its lower part submerged and its upper part above the water.

Entire leaf: Leaf edges unbroken by lobes or teeth.

Female     Flower: A flower with one or more pistils but lacking stamens. See pistillate.

Filament: The anther-bearing stalk of a stamen, usually slender and thread-like.

Fruit: The seed-bearing, ripened ovary or pistil.

Glabrous: Smooth; without hairs.

Head: A dense cluster of stalkless (or nearly stalkless) flowers. In the aster family, the composite of ray and disk flowers resembling a single flower.

Inflorescence: The flowering cluster of a plant.

Involucre: A whorl or circle of bracts supporting a flower or flower cluster.

Irregular     Flower: The petals are not uniform in size or shape); may be lopsided, lipped, and so forth.

Lance-shaped or lanceolate leaf: Broader at one end and tapering to the other end, like a lance.

Leaflet: A separate and similar part of a divided leaf.

Linear leaf: Long, narrow with parallel veins and sides.

Lip petal: The upper or lower part of an irregular flower, often more showy than the other petals.

Lobe: Rounded segment of a leaf or flower, with indentations that do not reach all the way to the center or the base.

Male     Flower: A flower with stamens but no pistils.

See staminate.

Midrib: The central vein of a leaf or leaflet.

Naturalized: A plant that has been introduced from one region into another in which it has become established in the wild.

Nerve: A leaf vein that is linear and not branched.

Node: The place on a stem from which a leaf or branch grows.

Opposite leaves: Arranged in opposing pairs on the stem.

Ovary: The swollen base of the pistil where seeds develop.

Palate: A projection on the lower lip of a flower.

Palmate leaf: Divided or lobed so as to radiate from a central point, like the fingers on a hand.

Panicle: An elongated, compound (branched) flower cluster.

Pappus: In aster family - the hairs, bristles crown or scales at the tip of the achene ("seed"); like silk or down on thistles.

Parasite: A plant that gets its food from another living plant.

Pea     Flower: A bilaterally symmetrical flower with the corolla having one broad upper petal (banner or standard), two lateral petals (wings), and two joined bottom petals (keel).

Perennial: A plant that lives for more than two years, usually producing flowers, fruits and seeds annually.

Petal: The basic segment of the corolla; usually colored; may be joined basally or separate; flat, usually broad.

Petiole: The leafstalk that attaches the leaf to the stem.

Pinnate leaf: Several or many leaflets arranged (in pairs or alternately) along a midrib or central stock, much like a feather.

Pistil: The central female organ of a flower which comprises (1) a swollen ovary at the base, (2) a slender stalk, the style; and (3) a divided or knobbed tip, the stigma.

Pistillate: Having pistils but no stamens; a female flower.

Pith: The softer, central part of a twig or stem.

Pod: A dry fruit that opens at maturity to release its seeds.

Pollen: The male spores produced by the anther.

Pubescent: Having soft, downy hairs.

Raceme: An unbranched, longish cluster of flowers arranged singly along a stalk, each flower with its own small stalk.

Rays, ray flowers: The flat straplike or petal-like blades that encircle the disk flowers; each ray flower resembles a single petal.

Regular     Flower: A flower with all parts alike in size and shape; radially symmetrical.

Rhizome: A horizontal, underground stem, often enlarged by food storage, distinguished from a root by the presence of nodes and sometimes scale-like leaves.

Rib: A prominent vein of a leaf.

Root: A specialized structure of a plant that absorbs water and nutrients from the soil and transports these substances to a plant's stem; roots have no nodes.

Rootstock: A horizontal underground stem.

Rosette: A circular cluster of leaves, usually at the base of a plant.

Runner: A slender stem that grows flat on the ground, often developing leaves, roots and new plants at the nodes or tip.

Saprophyte: A plant lacking chlorophyll and living on dead organic matter.

Scale: A tiny green or colorless leaf found on some plant stems.

Sepal: An individual segment of the calyx (usually green); a small modified leaf near the rim of the flower.

Sessile: Without a stalk; in reference to a leaf, one lacking a petiole, with the blade attached directly to the stem.

Sheath: A thin membrane surrounding the stem; the lower portion of a leaf surrounding the stem.

Shoot: A newly developed stem and its leaves.

Spadix: A club-shaped stalk on which are densely crowded tiny blossoms usually enclosed in a spathe.

Spathe: The hooded or leaflike sheath partly enfolding the spadix.

Species: A distinct kind of plant.

Spike: An elongated flower cluster with stalkless or near stalk-less flowers arranged along the stem.

Spur: A hollow, usually slender tubular extension on a flower.

Stalk: The stem of a leaf or flower.

Stamen: The male flower organ (usually several) composed of a slender stalk (filament) with a knoblike tip (anther) bearing pollen.

Staminate: Having stamens but no pistil; a male flower.

Stigma: The tip of the pistil (often knobbed or divided; sticky) that receives pollen.

Stipule: A small, often leaf-like growth at the base of a petiole (leafstalk).

Style: The slender stalk of the pistil connecting the ovary and the pistil.

Tendril: A slender, coiling structure that helps support climbing plants.

Toothed leaf: A leaf having several to many small indentations along the margin; having a sawtooth edge.

Trailing: Running along the ground but not rooting.

Tuber: A short, thick, underground stem with buds.

Umbel: An umbrella-like flower cluster with all flower stalks radiating from the same point.

Vein: One of a network of tiny channels in a leaf through which the plant's fluids flow.

Whorl: Three or more leaves radiating from a single point.

Wing: A thin membrane extending along a stem, stalk, or other part of a plant.




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N. H. Wildflowers, LLC. Use by educational entities is encouraged.

All of the photographs found in this website were taken by John D. Cameron.