If the word you want is not in the following list try the on-line glossaries at Flora of Australia or Missouri Botanic Gardens, Radford et al. Vascular Plant Systematics or the list of plant characteristics on the Virtual Field Herbarium site at Oxford University. Remember too that many of the words are illustrated in the images accompanying the various character states in the keys.
actinomorphic (of flowers) radially symmetric i.e. any diameter cut through the flower will result in identical halves
acumen apex prolonged into a sharp point
acuminate with an acumen i.e. apex prolonged into a sharp point
acute sharp; two sides approaching each other at an angle of less than 90°
adjacent next to
adnate joined to
adult cf. juvenile; in many Solanaceous species the earlier foliage, or foliage arising from new shoots, may be larger, pricklier and more pubescent than that formed later; most measurements given here, unless specified, relate to the leaves found in the older stages associated with flowering.
aestivation the arrangements of the petal lobes in bud. This character is particularly important in Solanaceae in deciding the relationships of the genera to each other e.g. tribe Anthocercideae is defined by its unique corolla aestivation.
andromonoecious having bisexual and male flowers on the same plant, as is found in a number of Solanum species e.g. members of the Dioicum and Incanum groups
anthesis stage of flowering where anthers are releasing pollen
apical at the apex or top of
apiculate with a short sharp point at the apex; cf. acuminate
appendage additional structure arising from a surface in Solanum lycopersicon (tomato) for instance, each of the anthers has an apical appendage
appressed (as in hairs) pressed to; of hairs which are parallel to the surface on which they are borne or appressed as in the calyx lobes of Nicandra where adjacent calyx lobes are pressed together to give a wing-like appearance
arcuate (of hairs) curved, as in a bow
articulate (of pedicels) a joint or abscission area where the pedicel detaches from the main axis e.g. Cestrum; often at the very base of the pedicel and therefore not always noticeable
armed prickles are present on part of the plant
asymmetrical not symmetrical; when used with respect to leaves of Solanum the bases of the leaf, either side of the petiole, meet the petiole at different levels (also referred to as oblique).
Fig. 1: leaf base asymmetrical or oblique
attenuate gradually tapering; fig. 2
auriculate ear-shaped; usually used in reference to a leaf base which is very deeply heart-shaped such that the lobes cover the petiole or the stem; see for example Nicotiana ampexicaulis or fig. 2
Fig. 2. Leaf bases from on-line glossary of Flora of Australia
axillary arising from the area between a petiole or leaf base and the stem; see Flora of Australia on-line glossary
basifixed (of anthers) filament is attached at the base of the anthers as in most Solanum species; cf. versatile anthers of Lycium and most of tribe Anthocercideae
bifid split in two; used with respect to the stigmas of some of the dioecious Solanum species
bisexual (of flowers) having both male and female parts present in the flower. Look for both stamens and styles in the open flower; fig. 19. cf. male flowers where the style will be absent, fig. 11.
capitate (stigma) with a small head, as in a pin
cauline (of leaves in Nicotiana) leaves along the upright stem, as opposed to basal leaves.
circumscissile (capsules or fruits) - opening by a transverse line around the circumference resulting in a lid which is removed at maturity e.g. Hyoscyamus
concolorous similar colour on upper and lower surface, usually with respect to leaf surfaces and usually related to presence or absence of hairs
conical shaped like a cone
connate - joined
connective (with respect to anthers) the tissue connecting two anthers; particularly noticeable in Lycopersicon and Cyphomandra
clammy wet and cold feel, in Nicotiana due to presence of globular-headed hairs; fig. 21c.
cleistogamous (flowers) smaller than usual, often overlooked, flowers which never open; pollination is usually effected in bud and the flowers are all self-pollinated. Common in Nicotiana where it can lead to misleading measurements for the corolla length.
clonal reproducing by asexual means, usually suckering, so that the offspring are the same genetic makeup as the parent. In many Solanaceae species new shoots arise from underground stems following disturbance.
cordate heart-shaped, whether the leaf base or leaf apex; fig. 2
cordiform heart-shaped, more or less triangular
cuneate (leaf or petal base) shaped like a wedge, sides straight, forming an angle less than 90° at their point of contact; fig. 2
cyme - branched inflorescence (lacking a single axis) with each flower terminating an axis and subsequent flowers developing from the below the terminating flower; fig. 9.
decurrent (of leaves) - extending downwards beyond the point of insertion, e.g. in Nicotiana excelsior the leaf blade and petiole extend downwards to form a wing along the stem.
Fig. 4. Decurrent leaves of N. excelsior. Reproduced with permission from Japan Tobacco Inc.from "The genus Nicotiana illustrated" (1994).
dendritic (of hairs) branched hairs in which new branches arise from different points along the main axis tree-like; fig. 5.
Fig. 5. Dendritic hairs of tribe Anthocercideae. Reproduced from fig. 4 of Haegi (unpubl. Ph.D. thesis).
dense congested, crowded, overlapping
depressed (of shape) - flattened as if pressed from the top or end; wider than high.
didynamous (of stamens) - two of four stamens are significantly longer than the other two
dioecious male flowers and female flowers are produced on different plants this appears not to be the case in Solanum where male flowers and bisexual flowers are produced on different plants. However the apparently bisexual flowers with their normal-appearing anthers produce inaperturate and non-germinating pollen and so these flowers are functionally female and the plants functionally dioecious; fig. 19.
discolorous different colour on upper and lower surface, usually with respect to leaf surfaces; fig. 6. cf. concolorous.
Fig. 6. Discolorous leaves upper and lower leaf surfaces different colours.
distal away from the point of attachment
dorsifixed (of anthers) filament is attached at the back of the anthers as in versatile anthers of Lycium and most of tribe Anthocercideae cf. basifixed anthers of most Solanum species
ellipsoid solid 3D shape, elliptic in outline
elliptic - oval in outline, widest at the centre; fig. 7
Fig. 7: Leaf shapes reproduced from Flora of Australia on-line glossary
emarginate notched or indented at the apex
entire without lobes
erect (of styles and fruits) - standing upright cf. pendent
exserted (usually with respect to stamens) exceeding the corolla, sticking out, not included within the corolla
filament stalk supporting the anthers of a stamen
foetid evil- or foul-smelling
forked dividing into 2
fusiform - spindle-shaped, i.e. narrower at both ends than at the centre
geminate borne in pairs, but not inserted opposite to each other; used with respect to leaves of Solanum, Physalis
glabrescent initially hairy, but becoming glabrous, or losing these hairs, with age
glabrous without hairs
glandular (hairs) hairs with a globular apex i.e. gland-tipped
globose (usually with respect to fruit shape) rounded, circular; as wide as high, 1:1
granular-tomentose a specialised term used by Haegi to describe the appearance of hairs on leaves in some of the Anthocercideae e.g. Cyphanthera tasmanica, fig. 8. There is a general hair covering of branched hairs of even length interspersed with longer emergent branched hairs.
Fig. 8. Granular-tomentose hairs
hastate - spear-shaped - narrowing to apex but with two basal lobes. Such leaves are sometimes found in Solanum ferocissimum and S. chenopodinum; fig. 2.
hydathodes surface hairs with a direct connection to the veins; they function in the removal of excess water (guttation) and ions, but their secretions may also have a role in inhibiting infection of the tissue; fig 21d. See Shepherd, R.W., Troy Bass, W., Houtz, R.L. & Wagner, G.J. (2005). Phylloplanins of tobacco are defensive proteins deployed on aerial surfaces by short glandular trichomes. The Plant Cell 17:1851-1861. Downloadable at http://www.plantcell.org/cgi/content/full/17/6/1851
inter-acuminal see intra-acuminal
inter-nodal inserted on the main axis between nodes; see also interaxillary
inter-axillary - inserted on the main axis between axils; see also internodal
inter-sepalar membrane (with respect to Nicotiana) membranous filling between the calyx or sepal lobes
inflorescence arrangement of the flowers; see cymose, paniculate, sub-umbelliform, thyrse, umbelliform; fig. 9.
Fig. 9: Inflorescences reproduced from Flora of Australia on-line glossary
inserted (with respect to stamens) point of attachment of the filament to the corolla tube
intra-acuminal tissue in flower tissue between the corolla lobes. Corolla lobes are usually of a slightly different colour to the intra-acuminal tissue, sometimes with a darker midline; fig. 10.
Fig. 10. Arrows indicate the intra-acuminal tissue
juvenile early stage of plant life in Solanum species in particular, but also in other members of the family, the juvenile stages are frequently different from the adult stage juvenile or seedling stages often have larger leaves which are more deeply lobed and there may be prickles on the stems and leaves which disappear in the adult stage e.g. S. macoorai.
lamina leaf surface or blade
lanceolate (of anthers, sometimes of leaf shape) tapering to apex; all members of Solanum subg. Leptostemonum have such anthers; fig. 11.
leaf-opposed arising from the main axis, opposite the point of insertion of a leaf
limb (of corolla) - the upper, free, spreading portion of the corolla; the corolla lobes
linear - very narrow, length to width ratio 12:1 or more, sides parallel; fig 5
lobed (of leaves) leaf margin is not entire but divided to about half way to the midrib
longitudinal (of anther dehiscence) opening along the length of the anther
male flowers female parts lacking. Look for the presence of a style between the stamens. Common in some members of Solanum, particularly species from northern Australia where there are often many male flowers gathered together above a single bisexual flower; fig. 11
Fig. 11. Male flowers; styles lacking.
mesocarp (of fruit) - fleshy portion of a succulent fruit, below the skin.
monoecious - bisexual flowers, with a functioning style and stamens, are produced on the one plant; cf. dioecious and andromonoecious.
notched indented, as in the apex of a leaf or petal
ob- - reverse or inverse of the word to which it is attached
obconical attached at the narrow end of the cone
oblique (of leaf base) - asymmetrical, leaf bases either side of the midrib not meeting at the same point; fig. 1 & 2.
oblong (of anthers) straight-sided cf. lanceolate or tapering anthers of subg. Leptostemonum; fig. 12.
Fig. 12. Oblong anthers.
Fig. 13. Tapering anthers
oblong (of leaves) length greater than width, sides parallel
obovate ovate in outline, but attachment is at narrow end i.e. widest above middle; fig. 7.
obovoid 3D, egg-shaped, but attachment at the narrower end i.e. widest above the middle
obtuse blunt or rounded; angle greater than 90°
orbicular circular in outline; length to width 1:1; fig. 7.
ovate egg-shaped in outline, widest in lower half cf. obovate; fig. 7.
ovoid egg-shaped in 3D, attachment at the broadest end; i.e. widest below the middle
pandurate (leaf shape, particularly in Nicotiana) obovate but with a distinct narrowing to almost straight sides at the base
panicle much branched inflorescence, a compound raceme (a raceme of racemes); an indeterminate inflorescence in which the flowers are borne on branches of the main axis or on further branches of these see e.g. Duboisia myoporoides and fig. 9.
papillose - small, rounded protuberances on the surface of an organ, in Solanaceae, particularly the Anthocercideae, often on the corolla lobe surface
pedicel stalk supporting a flower or fruit
peduncle stalk supporting a group of flowers or fruits
pendent (of fruit) - hanging
pentagonal apex of the intra-acuminal tissue is more or less straight or cut off, giving a 5-sided appearance to the flower; figs 10 &15.
petiole stalk of a leaf
petiolule stalk of a leaflet
pinnatisect (of leaves) - lobes cut almost to midrib
plicate pleated; folded back and forth longitudinally as in a fan e.g. Solanum plicatile and S. eardleyae
pores (of anthers) rounded holes at the apex of the anther; pollen is released through these pores
poricidal (of anthers) opening by terminal pores and usually in Solanaceae requiring to be vibrated or buzzed by bees to release their pollen
prickles sharp-pointed outgrowths arising from the stems, leaves and floral parts of Solanum species
prostrate lying on the ground
puberulent with minute hairs
pubescent hairs present
rachis main axis from which flowers arise; also as rhachis
radical (of leaves in Nicotiana) basal rosette of leaves as opposed to the leaves of the stem (cauline)
reflexed turned down, as in the calyces and corolla lobes of some Solanum species
reniform kidney shaped; often used with respect to the seeds of Nicotiana
resprouter ability to produce new stems from the underground root system following disturbance. Solanum species tend to be found in disturbed habitats and to respond well to fire because of this ability. cf. clonal
reticulate network, usually of veins on a leaf or markings on seed
retrorse (of hairs) bent, pointing downwards or away from apex
rhombic diamond- or kite -shaped
rotate apex of the intra-acuminal tissue is rounded, giving an overall rounded appearance to the flower: fig. 14.
rotate-pentagonal - apex of the intra-acuminal tissue is straight, giving an overall 5-sided appearance to the flower: fig. 15.
Fig. 14. Rotate flower.
Fig. 15. Rotate-pentagonal flower
rounded not angled
sclerotic granules (of fruits) hard inclusions in the fruit along with the seeds; particularly characteristic of the Kangaroo Apples or Solanum subg. Archaeosolanum but also sometimes found in subg. Solanum cf. stone cells
scorpioid (inflorescence) axis of inflorescence coiled as in the tail of a scorpion
serrate (of leaf margins) toothed, the teeth usually acutely angled and pointing toward the apex of the leaf
serrulate (of leaf margins) finely serrate
sessile without a stalk, attached directly to the main axis; usually of leaves or flowers
simple (of hairs or inflorescences) unbranched; fig. 21a.
simple (of leaves) undivided leaves
sinuate - with deep, wave-like depressions along the margin of the leaf
solitary (of flowers) single, one flower only in the inflorescence
sparse occasional; with respect to hairs, not overlapping
spathulate spoon-shaped: fig. 7
spike, spike-like - flowers arranged on a single axis, each flower sessile, oldest at base: fig. 9.
sprawling not erect, not capable of supporting itself, lying on other vegetation
stellate (of flowers) star-shaped (fig. 16). There is no, or very little, intra-acuminal tissue between the corolla lobes. The broadly stellate (fig. 17) condition occurs when there is some intra-acuminal tissue between the lobes but this is less than the lobes in height.
stellate (hairs) star-shaped hairs in which a number of arms all arise from a single point. For some of the various types of hairs which are scored as stellate see the image (fig. 18) adapted from Seithe (1979).
Fig. 18. Stellate hair types in Solanum. Adapted from Seithe, A. (1979). Hair types as taxonomic characters in Solanum. In: J.G.Hawkes, R.N.Lester & A.D.Skelding (eds), The Biology and Taxonomy of the Solanaceae pp. 30719. (Linnean Society of London: London).
stem-clasping sessile leaves in which the bases of the leaves partly envelop the stem cf. auriculate
stone cells hard concretions present in the fruits of some Solanum species typical of subg. Archaesolanum (Kangaroo Apples) and also present in some species of the S. nigrum group, but absent elsewhere in Australian species; cf. sclerotic granules.
stigma area at the apex of the ovary and style which is receptive to pollen; the stigma may be capitate, obscurely lobed or distinctly two-lobed; fig. 19.
Fig. 19. The presence of a style and stigma makes this a bisexual flower. In some Solanum species of northern Australia such flowers may be functionally female since the pollen produced by the anthers is non-fertile. It is produced as a reward for visiting insects thus ensuring that pollination still occurs.
striate - with striations or coloured lines in the flower
striations coloured lines within the flower e.g. Anthocercis, Cyphanthera
subtended surrounded by; used with respect to bracts at the base of a flower and sometimes the persistent calyx surrounding a fruit
sub-umbellate inflorescence almost resembling an umbel flowers all arising from more or less the same point and with the pedicels all of a similar length; fig. 9.
succulent - juicy
tapering (of anthers); all members of Solanum subg. Leptostemonum have such anthers; fig. 12
terminal at the apex
testa outer seed coat
throat widened part of the corolla tube, immediately below the lobes
Fig. 20. Parts of the Nicotiana flower. The arrowed portion represents the corolla tube. From Horton, J. Adelaide Botanic Garden 3: 3 (1981), fig. 2.
throat cup (with respect to Nicotiana corolla) widened area immediately below the lobes in some Nicotiana species usually the place where the anthers sit; fig. 20.
throat cylinder (with respect to Nicotiana corolla) widened tubular portion of the corolla tube, immediately above the tube proper and below the throat cup; fig. 20.
thyrse - a branched inflorescence in which the main axis is indeterminate and the lateral branches determinate in their growth (Flora of Australia glossary definition) fig. 9.
tomentose dense cover of intertwined hairs; used with different meanings by different authors
translucent transmitting light; able to be seen through; used with respect to the area between the calyx lobes in some Nicotiana species
truncate with a straight base or apex, as if cut off; see fig. 2
tube (of corolla) joined portion of the corolla below the lobes; sometimes, as in Nicotiana, consisting of a narrow tube widening into the throat; fig 20.
umbelliform resembling an umbel i.e. flowers all arising from a single point, the pedicels all of a similar length - arranged as in the spokes of an umbrella; fig. 9.
unarmed without prickles
undulate (usually with respect to leaf margins) wavy, not flat
ventrifixed (of anthers) filament is attached to the front of the anthers as in anthers of Petunia and Nierembergia cf. dorsifixed anthers of Lycium and Nicotiana species
versatile (of anthers) moving freely about the point of attachment to the filament, which is usually central found in Lycium and most of tribe Anthocercideae; cf. basifixed, as in most Solanum species
viscid with a glistening or shiny appearance due to the presence of glandular hairs, often somewhat sticky to touch as in some species of Nicotiana where the stickiness is due to the presence of ellipsoid-headed hairs; fig. 21c
Fig. 21. Nicotiana hair types: A, simple, eglandular; B, simple, glandular; C, simple, ellipsoid-headed; D, hydathode. From Horton, J. Adelaide Botanic Garden 3: 3 (1981), fig. 1
wing - a thin flange of tissue extended beyond the normal outline of a stem or petiole; used in the description of the leaf petioles of Nicotiana species.
zygomorphic (of flowers) - irregular, bilaterally symmetrical or symmetrical about one plane only. cf. actinomorphic
State Herbarium of South Australia