Aquatic Plant Identification Glossary
Alternate Leaves - leaves spaced singly along a
stem, one at each node.
Axil - the angle between two structures on a
plant, such as the notch created between the stem and the base of a
Blade - the expanded portion of a leaf, in
contrast to the leaf stalk.
Bract - a reduced or modified leaf that is
located just below a flower or flower stalk.
Canopy - a cluster of leaves and branching
stems on or near the water surface.
Capsule - a dry fruit with more than one seed
that opens at maturity.
Cuticle - the waxy protective layer on the
surface of a leaf or stem.
Detritus - any disintegrated matter; debris,
such as loose organic matter composed of parts of decaying
Divided - a plant structure that is cut into
distinct parts; often used to describe divisions of a leaf.
Entire - a leaf margin that is smooth, not
toothed or lobed.
Epiphyte - a plant that grows on another plant,
but does not take its food or water from that plant.
Fruit - a ripened ovary, along with any other
structures that mature with it and form a unit.
Heterophylly - the presence of two different
kinds of leaves on the same plant.
Keel - a sharp ridge.
Midrib - the central vein of a leaf that runs
from its base to tip.
Node - the place on a stem where a leaf or
Nutlet - a small, dry, one-seeded fruit with a
Opposite leaves - leaves arranged along a stem
in pairs, directly across from each other.
Ovary - the part of a flower's female
reproductive structure that encloses the seeds.
Petal - an inner floral leaf, usually
Petiole - leaf stalk.
Rhizome - a creeping, underground stem.
Rosette - leaves arranged in a radiating
pattern at the base of a plant.
Serrate - a sharply toothed leaf margin.
Sheath - the portion of a leaf that wraps
around the stem.
Spike - flowers closely spaced on a single
Spore - A single-celled reproductive structure
produced by non-flowering plants.
Stipule - an appendage of tissue on the stem at
the base of a leaf stalk.
Stolon - a stem that creeps along the surface
of the sediment or ground.
Tuber - the thickened portion of a rhizome,
providing food-storage for the plant.
Turion - a specialized overwintering
Whorl - an arrangement of leaves, bracts or
flowers with three or more radiating from a common point.
Winter bud - A shortened branch with tightly
spaced, often reduced leaves. This structure survives the
rest of the plant over winter and renews growth in the spring.
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