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 leaf.

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 plants.

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 branch arises.

Nutlet - a small, dry, one-seeded fruit with a hard wall.

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 colored.

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 stalk.

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 structure.

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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