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Thread: Plant Definitions Thread

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    Default Plant Definitions Thread

    I won't delve into the more technical terminology, that's for the pro's. I do however want to introduce our future foragers to some of the basic concepts and words they will encounter in field guides and other books.
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    It is a bit difficult for the newcomer to botany to entirely grasp all of the terminology involved in plant identification. This thread is NOT a substitute for a good book with a glossary of terms. It is meant to be a novice level introduction to some of the basic terminology involved in plant identification. We will go through a plant using live examples of structures and features to help build a mental glossary, so that when you come across one of these terms, you will know what to look for.

    The forum features a "search this thread" button at the top of the page, and you can also press "ctrl + f" to find any word on the page. If you have a really technical term, you better get yourself a dictionary! Hopefully you will be able to find most of the terminology in your field guides in this thread. It is important that when you find your word, you read the entire paragraph so that you can learn the word in it's context. I don't know about you, but I learn better when the differences are explained, so that's what I've tried to do here. This is not a botany dictionary.
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 07-02-2010 at 10:47 AM. Reason: added search note
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    Post Classification and technicalities (get this out of the way)

    Lets start off by talking about plant classifications based on structure.

    Some plants have no vascular system at all. There is very little capillary action taking place in these plants and the plant parts all remain very low to the root system. Many of these plants reproduce by spores and root branchings. This class of plants falls under "non-vascular" plants and includes mosses and liverworts. These fall outside the scope of my own knowledge and are excluded from this particular discussion for now.

    Next in the evolutionary chain of plants are the fern-type plants. It is theorized that somewhere along the line, non-vascular plants and fungi formed a symbiotic relationship whereby fungi helped move water and nutrients up into the "leafy" parts of the plants. This relationship allowed plants to grow upward to reach more sun while still being able to retrieve nutrients from the soil. Plants gained the ability to overgrow smaller plants and gain dominance over their mossy counterparts. They did however retain their reproductive system of spores and root branchings. These plants have vascular systems and fall under the second class. If your plant is clearly not moss, and has veins and leaf systems, it falls into this category. This class is very broad and includes most plants as we know them.

    Non-vascular: Having no capillary parts to move water and nutrients up from the root system into the leaf system and vice-versa. This is the most basic classification of plantae.

    Vascular: Having a veinous network of capillary tubes and specialized cells for moving water and nutrients up from the root system, into the plant structure above ground or sugars that have been processed through photosynthesis back down into the roots.

    All plants in the world will fall into one of these two categories. The vascular plants class is further divided into more categories based on how they reproduce. Fern type plants do not produce flowers. Above the ferns are the flowering plants. Where ferns produce fronds with glands and spores, other plants produce insect-attracting flowers and have male and female parts. Flower parts will be covered in a moment. Outside of ferns, there are two types of vascular plants: those with parallel venation, and those with "webbed" veination.
    Hold a leaf up to a light and look "through" it. If none of the veins in the leaves touch each other, your plant falls into the Liliopsida (Lily) Class. If the veins branch multiple times and often have veins connecting veins, your plant falls into the Magnoliopsida Class. Sprouts from either of these classes are called "Cotyledons" meaning "seed leaf". How the plant emerges from it's seed is an important detail to notice.
    Ever looked at a pea sprout in the garden? A taproot emerges from the seed-pea and pushes up on the seed. Each half of the seed becomes a leaf. These are called "dicot" plants and all of these will fall under the Magniolopsida class. Other seeds remain in the ground and send up leaves from the seed, while it remains in the ground. All of these plants are called "monocot" and all of them are in the Liliopsida class.

    Cotyledon: First emerging leaves from a seed. think "sprouts".

    Monocot: A plant in the Liliopsida family having grasslike leaves with parallel veination.
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    Dicot: A plant in the Magniolopsida family having broad, often "shaped" leaves with webbed veination
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    Each of these classifications are further divided into Orders. The order includes many plants with very similar characteristics, but is not very specific. There are no useful patters of the plant orders for identifying a particular plant. For example the Rose Order includes dewberries, and plums, and pears. While at first glance, the entire plants are extremely different, the flowers all share very similar characteristics.

    Orders are further divided into Families. This is where details that will be covered in the next discussion will help you most. All plants in a particular family will have very similar characteristics which can be used to identify a plant. Any random plant is best "lumped" into a family for identification. By looking at the details of the flower and plant structure you can "classify" your plant by family, so that you know what plants NOT to look at for ID. This skill alone will speed up the identification process, by immediate elimination of invalid options.

    Families are further divided into classifications based on details. Below a Family, is the Genus, Which is like a surname, and below that is the Species, which is like a first name (for people). A genus is a smaller "lump" of plants with more similar characteristics, and species is quite specific to a particular plant, although some species have "variations" that do not change the plant enough for it to fall into a new plant species. An example is flower color, which is quite arbitrary if you have ever looked through a Peterson Guide. Many of the plants included in the field guide are repeated in different "flower color" sections, and "variations" are the reason.

    While we only covered a few definitions here, it is a lot of information to take in and remember. We'll stop here for now so you can absorb it and go out and look at plants and notice these few details.
    Our next stop is actual structure of the plant itself. Root, stem, leaf, flower, stalk, etc. all have their place in plant identification and it only gets more complicated from here. Study what we've covered, go out and look at examples, and take notes on what you observe.
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 07-02-2010 at 10:54 AM. Reason: proofreading and correcting spelling
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    Default Plant Parts: Roots

    We've talked about how plants are classified based on their structure, now let's talk about the structures. We'll start at the bottom and work our way up (all too familiar!). All vascular plants will have a root system to process nutrients from the soil and move them up into the parts above ground that are responsible for photosynthesis, The process by which nutrients are converted into sugars and starches within the plant. Some roots only move nutrients up while others store the goods for future use.

    Some plants, like many of the Lilies in the monocot division, store starches and sugars in their roots. The roots swell in many layers, or just one pulpy, skinned lump. These roots are called bulbs. Onions, and turnips are common bulb plants that you have seen before. Many plants are seasonal, meaning they are only above ground during the warmer months. During the cold winter months their above ground parts surrender their sugars and starches to the root and the whole plant hibernates underground. In the spring, it will purge these starches in a growth spurt as it hurries to reproduce. Other plants, like potatoes, will store their starches in tubers, for the same purpose. The tubers serve a dual purpose and can function like a rhizome. {If you have a picture of a bulb, I would like to link it here}

    Other plants spread by running root systems underground, linking multiple plants together, and increasing the chances of survival of the "stand" of plants. Rattlesnake weed (Stachys floridana) is a good example of a rhizome with edible parts. It stores starches in nodules along it's running roots, and stacks them like buttons on a rattlesnakes tail. These running root systems are called rhizomes. {If you have a picture of a rhizome or tuber, I would like to use it here}

    Many of the plants you will encounter will have a taproot, A single long swollen root extending down into the ground, usually with fibrous roots attached and extending outward from the plant. The taproot sometimes serves to store starches, such as in the case of a carrot. They function to dig deep to find water. The fibrous roots that attach and extend out serve to get water near the surface and collect topsoil nutrients.
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    Some plants have all of their storage and reproductive abilities above ground and only have fibrous roots. These are small hairy roots that extend in all directions. These simply collect nutrients and water and move them up into the plant for use. These plants usually have short life spans and will reproduce by seed only. Normally they die back every year.
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    Each of these ties into the lifespan of the plant and it's yearly cycle(s). I won't get into that too much for now. Next we'll move up above ground to the stem. It's pretty straightforward so it should be pretty short.
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    Default Plant Parts: Stem

    Plant Parts: Stem

    We wouldn't think the stick that holds up the plant would be so different from one plant to the next, but they really are. Some plants climb, some spread, some stand tall. Each has it's place and each helps define a plants habit. Some are hard and woody, some are fibrous and flexy (good for cordage), some are soft and juicy.. There really are a lot of differences here to discuss.

    Erect plants grow upright from the ground. Some have leaves and some have only a flower atop them. A stalk or stem without leaves is called a scape (scapose).
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    Prostrate plants spread along the ground.
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    Vining plants are usually prostrate until they find something to climb. Most vining plants have appendages that extend from their stems that twine around objects to help support the plant as it climbs. These are called tendrils.
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    Succulent stems are usually soft and squishy and contain liquids or gels. Cactus stems are a good example. They are also a good example of
    segmented stems, where the stem is clearly divided into seperate pieces.

    Then there are all the features to discuss, some are hairy, some smooth, some prickly and some with shapes!
    Pubescent stems have hairlike features. This term also applies to leaves and other plant parts. If a plant has no hair or hairlike features it is said to be glabrous.
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    Glaucous stems have a waxy coat, or a sort of dull sheen. Some stems will get a powdery coat that will wipe off called bloom.

    Prickles or Thorns are appendages the plant uses as protection. Often they will occur at leaf nodes, also known as stipules. but can occur on different parts of the plant also.
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    Some plants like the mints have square stems. If you roll them in your finger you can feel the squareness and if you cut a cross section you can see it. Eastern Black Nightshade has a 6 sided stem with "teeth". Many plants have ridges, and grooves. To be able to tell precisely, you will need to cut across the plant. Most of the time you can feel it by rolling the stem in your fingers.
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    Once you have it open you can see if the stem contains nothing in the center, hollow, or if it has a soft core called the pith. You can cut a stem the long way, through a leaf attachment point to see if it is hollow or solid at the node. All of these things are important to notice.

    I hope I haven't gotten too technical and lost anyone yet. If I need to clarify anything, please let me know!!
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 06-16-2010 at 12:59 AM. Reason: input
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    Default Plant Parts: Leaves

    Surely you've noticed all the different leaf shapes and sizes. I hope this section will help clarify some of the different terms and avoid ambiguity in your identification efforts. Some leaves have very specific shapes, while many plants will have very similar leaves. Here goes!

    Working outward from the stem, a leaf occurs at a node. This is, simply put, a point of attachment for any appendage connected to the stem (or leafstalk). While some leaves are attached directly to the stem (clasping) and others seem to have the stem pushed through it (perfoliate), most will be attached to the stem by a leafstalk, also known as a petiole. The point of attachment of a leaf is called the axil (Other things growing from this point on the plant are called axillary).
    Node
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    A clasping leaf has no petiole and is attached directly at the axil
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    While I'm not entirely certain about the glands at the node, many will have them. Often these form tendrils, or thorns, or simply another leafstalk. Some glands are attached directly to the leaf usually at the juncture of the petiole and leaf plane. If your plant has thorns at the leaf node, they are probably dual function and serve as glands also!

    Now we get into the leaf shapes. Some are simple and some are pretty complex. The most basic and simple of leaves are in the Lily class. These are almost always lanceolate, long and narrow like grass or a sword, usually untoothed or entire. Look at the edge of your leaf and see if it is smooth or toothed, like a saw. If it has no teeth or lobes, it is a simple leaf and is described as entire in most of my literature. But wait, even simple leaves can be more complex, by having curls and waves along the edge. These are described as wavy. Pretty simple huh? Not so fast!!

    More complex than "simple, entire" leaves, are the toothed leaves. The teeth have different shapes and sizes and naturally, each has a word to describe it. The teeth can be sharp pointed (serrated), or rounded (crenate). Some leaves even alternate between the two! Then the teeth can point in different directions, toward the front of the leaf, or more outward toward the edge. All of these are important to notice for proper identification.

    Even more complicated than toothed leaves are lobed leaves, being divided deeply so that it has the appearance of a complicated shape. Depending on how the lobes are arranged, you will identify them as pinnate or palmate or "odd". Pinnate lobes extend outward, perpendicular to the midrib. If you hold your hand out in front of you with fingers spread, and it looks like your leaf shape, it is said to be palmately lobed. Keep in mind that these leaves are whole. Leaves that are made of many smaller seperate leaves do not fall into the lobed division. Maple, sycamore, and sweetgum are palmately lobed.
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    A pinnately lobed leaf
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    If your leaf is clearly divided into smaller leaflets, it is said to be divided. This can get a little complicated, so bear with me here. Divided leaves are called compound leaves, and just like the lobed leaves above, can get pretty complex to describe accurately. Lets go back to the stem and work outward. Compound leaves are attached to the stem by a leafstalk. Each leafstalk will have many leaflets attached to it. A good example of a compound leaf is a pecan tree or hickory. A branch produces a leafstalk to which are attached many leaflets, most often without a petiole, but sometimes with one. The leafstalk in a compound leaf is called the midrib. Sometimes these have "wings" that connect each leaflet. Dwarf Sumac is a shining example of winged midrib.
    Pinnately divided leaf
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    To further complicate things, HOW each compound leaf is divided has a description as well. As described above in the lobed leaves, you can hold your hand out with fingers spread, and if the leaf mimics your hands shape, it is said to be palmately divided. Pay attention and make sure that they are seperate leaflets. If they are attached to one another, they are NOT divided. Each leaflet in a compound leaf is seperate from the others!
    Even more complicated are the pinnately divided leaves. These leaflets are normally perpendicular to the midrib, and can have shapes and teeth as described above in the shapes discussion. Pinnate leaves can have as few as 2 or 3 leaflets, or as many as 21+ and usually will occur in odd numbers with a single terminal leaflet at the end of the midrib. This is not a steadfast rule, but you will notice, especially with trees, that the leaflets occur in odd numbers. Many of the Fabaceae (pea) family plants have pinnately divided leaves in even numbers along the midrib.

    *Each leaflet in a compound leaf is able to be described with the above listed leaf descriptions (toothed, entire, wavy, lobed, etc.) as well as sharing some of the stem descriptions (pubescent, glaucous, fibrous, etc).

    Compound leaves that are divided more than once are called compound pinnate. Starting at the stem, count stalks until you reach the leaflet. If the leaflets are attached to a single leafstalk attached directly to the stem, they are not compound pinnate. If the first leafstalk branches into more leafstalks, you can count those and add them to the first stalk. If there is one leafstalk branching past the initial stem branching it is bipinnate. If there are two (one at stem, then a branch, and another branch, then leaflet) it is tripinnately compound. Bracken Fern is a great example of a tripinnately compound leaf.
    If you are unsure, start at the plant root. Going up from there is the plant's main stem. This is not counted as a leaf part. Follow the branching toward the leaf. If the next thing you run into is a leaf, it is not compound at all. If that branch has many leaflets, it is compound. Follow that branch to either a leaflet (pinnate), or another branching. If the second branching connects to a leaflet it is bipinnate, and if it has yet another branching before reaching a leaflet it is tripinnate.

    Pinnate leaves having only three leaflets are called trifoliate. Garden peas and clovers and sorrels are good examples of trifoliate leaves.
    tripinnate leaf
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    Each leaf or leaflets individual shape can be described using the following key:
    Long and narrow: linear
    -Linear - rounded on each end same width or nearly so, throughout = oblong
    -Linear - same width or nearly so but tapering to a pointed tip = lanceolate
    "Shaped" with some points wider or narrower
    -shaped - wider near middle, tapers to a tip on both ends = elliptic
    -shaped - wider near base, tapers to a tip on end = lanceolate
    -shaped - wider slightly past middle, towards tip, = obovate
    -shaped - wider slightly before middle, towards base, sharp tip = ovate
    -shaped - narrow near base and much wider at end with rounded tip = spatulate
    -shaped - round or circular = orbicular
    -shaped - heart shaped with or without tapered tip = reniform
    -shaped - deeply divided into odd shapes = palmate
    -shaped - dissected

    Now that you can describe the leaves you encounter, you need to know how they occur on the plant. Working from the root up, do you encounter two leaves at a time or just one? If you see two leaves coming from the same point on the plant, opposite one another, then they are opposite. If there are more than two coming from the same point, they are whorled. As you move up the stem, if you only encounter one leaf at a time at a single point on the stalk, they are alternate. Alternate leaves are clearly singular along the stem.
    Leaves coming from the ground plane, near the root are basal leaves.
    Some plants only have basal leaves, or that is their main leafy structure. Sometimes basal leaves will occur in whorls, radiating from a single point, or sometimes they will alternate in a sort of stacked spiral called a rosette.
    A basal rosette
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    Whorled leaves
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    Alternate leaves with glands on the petiole
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    A bipinnately compound leaf with deeply dissected leflets
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    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 06-21-2010 at 07:25 AM.
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    Default

    I know that's a lot to take in... I wrote it! It can be a little overwhelming, but if you'll sit down, take a deep breath and read each paragraph as you look at your specimen, you should be able to fully describe a leaf using the terms you've come across so far. It seems pretty complicated and technical, but really when you have a specimen in your hand it will seem really intuitive and obvious. I must have done this, although in a more tedious self-taught fashion, a thousand times by now, and I can almost describe a leaf without a look back at a reference or glossary. Every once in a while you'll come across a more technical term in the literature. Most leaves can be described using the simple terminology above.

    Plant Parts: Flowers

    Flowers are not quite as difficult and diverse (descriptively) as the leaves are, although many of the same terms can be applied to flowers. Most of the terminology refers to surface texture as explained above, whether it is hairy, or not, slick, shiny, etc. Here we'll go through the flower structure, and a few other descriptions not covered above.

    Flowers are called inflorescences in the more technical literature, but this term also refers to HOW they occur on the flower stalk. A dandelion inflorescense is scapose because it occurs singly on it's own leafless stalk. Many of the mint family plants' inflorescences occur in spikes and heads. The stalk of such a flower cluster is called a rachis and the entire cluster is called spicate. Mustard family plants occur in a spike where the flowers have pedicels, a flower stalk that resembles a leaf's petiole. Such a spike is called a raceme (racemiform). Most times you will encounter a raceme in a spiral shape where the inflorescences occur singly along the stalk.

    Often you will see flat topped clusters of tiny flowers. If you look at the stalk of these inflorescences you will see that all of the pedicels radiate from a single point. The shape of the cluster's structure resembels an opened umbrella and so we call it an umbel. If each of the pedicels branches yet again before reaching the flowers it is said to be a compound umbel. Carrot family plants are known by their compound umbels.
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    Akin to the compound umbel, but more simple is a cyme. A cyme has it's individual flowers borne singly on individual pedicels, and is easily distinguished from an umbel by it's singly occuring flowers. Like an umbel, a cyme has pedicels that radiate from a single point on the rachis.

    The more complex inflorescences, are the panicle and corymb. A panicle has multiple racemiform spikes alternating along the flower stalk. If your plant has inflorescences that resembles an umbel, but the pedicels do not radiate from a single point on the rachis, and rather alternate from different points along the rachis, it is said to be a corymb.

    Beyond that, you will encounter flowers that occur in heads that look like a single flower, but are really many tiny flowers in a dense cluster. Dandelion and Daylily are excellent examples of a scapose head. The flower stalk has no appendages (like leaves or branchings) and ends in a terminal flower (much like a lily). The individual flowers in a head are called florets.

    All flowers have a specific structure pattern. You can peel away the parts from the outside of the flower, toward the center, sort of like the layers of an onion. If you start at the rachis and move toward the flower you will typically encounter a leaflike appendage that occurs at the base of the flower, called a bract. This is not technically part of the flower, but is used in the description of the flower because they occur so closely together. A flower may or may not be bracteate. If your flower has numerous bracts underneath the flower, like a dandelion, it is involucrate.
    An involucrate head
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    Inside the bracts you encounter the "first flower petals" usually first seen at the time of budding. Sometimes they are colored the same as flower petals and all flowers will have these sepals. Most often they are shorter than the flower petals and green. The sum of all sepals, whether united or seperate are called the calyx.

    Inside the sepals, and usually alternating with them are the flower petals. This is the part we normally call the "flower". They are usually scented and colorful. The sum of all the petals is called the corolla. This is usually used to describe irregular flowers (not symmetrical) with united petals.

    All of the parts mentioned so far are to protect the flowers reproductive parts. Located inside the corolla, usually in a circle, but sometimes located on one side of the corolla tube are the male parts that produce pollen. These are called stamens. The pollen bearing part of the stamen is called an anther located at the end and the filament holds up the anther.

    Next we encounter the female part of the flower, called the pistil. The pistil is also made of smaller parts. At the very top of the pistil is the stigma, which can have shaped tips called styles. Pollen comes into contact with the styles of the stigma and travel down the pistil tube into the ovary, where seeds and fruits are produced. Typical flowers will have only one pistil comprised of several parts and an ovary that is divided into chambers called carpels. Some flowers, like roses, will have many simple pistils, rather than a single compound pistil with multiple styles and carpels.
    Rose with numerous simple pistils
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    Cutleaf Evening Primrose with a single compound pistil with 4 styles
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    How the flower parts are attached in relation to the ovary also has a description! If the point of attachment is below the ovary, toward the pedicel, the ovary is said to be superior (of course, the parts are called "inferior") and if the point of attachment is above the ovary (toward the stigma), then it is inferior and the parts are then superior. Most times it is the ovary that is referenced and the flower will need to be dissected to ascertain this information.

    The shape of the flower can be described with a few simple logical terms. A regular flower has simple symmetry, either radially or laterally. An irregular flower usually has a really odd shape and has no symmetry in either direction. If your flower can be folded in half in one direction it is bilateral. Pea flowers are bilaterally symmetrical. If it can be folded in half in many directions, your flower is radial. Sunflowers are radially symmetrical.
    Irregular flowers with stamens inserted on the corolla tube
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    Aside from the naming of the parts of the flowers, this should be pretty intuitive. Some flowers have no pedicels or bracts, and some have no petals; some have sepals that look like petals. Most flowers are bisexual, meaning each flower has male and female parts, but this is not always true. Either of the reproductive parts could be missing! The parts always occur in the order covered, moving toward the center of the flower, up from the stem.
    Pedicel
    -Bract
    --Sepals
    ---Petals
    ----Stamens
    -----Pistil(s)
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 06-21-2010 at 07:25 AM.
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    Default Plant Parts: Fruits and seeds

    Seeds and fruits come in all shapes and sizes. First we need to understand that pollen from the anthers of the stamens, comes into contact with the style of the pistil and travels down the pistil tube into the ovary to fertilize seed-eggs (ovules). This ovary is the part that matures after the petals fall off the flower, and it forms a "fruit". Fruit is a broad term that represents all seeds. There are simple (like peaches) and complex fruits (like strawberries), just as there are with leaves and other parts of plants. Lets back up for a second, back to the ovary and pistil.

    Ovaries sometimes have a single chamber, and more often (through plant adaptation) have multiple chambers called carpels. What we see in many of the plants we encounter is (backing up again) radial symmetry. Often if a plant has 4 petals, and 4 sepals, and a single pistil with 4 styles, guess how many carpels it has... That's right, 4! Some plants have multiple pistils and ovaries, all of which are simple, and occur in bunches. Roses and dewberries have many simple pistils and ovaries and each seed occurs in a single carpel (unicarpellate). A pea or bean pod is a single carpel with many seeds. Many plants have simplified their reproductive parts into compound forms. A dewberry or blackberry is made of many smaller berries, each containing one seed. They are all in a dense cluster that looks like one large berry, but they are not!

    The simplest fruits are achenes. An achene contains only one seed. The seed itself is surrounded by a (or several layers that comprise the) pericarp, the "meat" of the fruit. A strawberry is a great example of a fruit covered with achenes. Each seed on the oustide of a strawberry is connected at a single point along the outside of the fruit and none of them have meat inside. The part you eat is really not even part of the seeds. It is more of a passive, starch-storage device. Such a fruit is called aggregate. It has many mature ovaries attached to the recptacle of a single flower. Blackberries are another good example of aggregate fruits. Dandelion seeds are excellent examples of achenes.

    Blackberries are also good examples of a drupe. Peaches and cherries all have a stony pit, juicy or pulpy "meat" and a "skin". These 3 layers of the pericarp make a drupe distinct from an achene, which has no meat between the seed and skin. Cherries are excellent examples of a drupe. We think of them as "berries" but that is a technical misinterpretation, because we don't think of a peach as a berry. A berry actually has two or more seeds inside, like a muscadine! The other characteristics still apply, but note that a muscadine has many seeds inside and is actually a berry, while a cherry is a drupe! Sumac berries are persistent, meaning they remain attached after the rest of the foliage has fallen away.

    A nut has no outer pericarp and the "meat" is inside the shell. A nut has only one seed inside, and is not juicy or mealy or pulpy. Often, nuts are valuable for their oil content. Often these oils are in the forms of amino acids and fats that are very good sources of protein and energy. Most nuts do not open on their own and are called indehiscent. If a seed resembles a nut, but several comprise the whole, as with mints and mallows, they are called nutlets. Nutlets are often borne together and look like one whole entity, but they clearly seperate from each other into smaller parts.

    Backing up for a second, to peas and beans, you notice they are unicarpellate (having only one chamber containing many seeds). At maturity the seeds are dry and the carpel opens along a particular line on it's own. The elongated ovary wall containing the seeds is called a pod. Because it opens to unleash it's seeds, all of it's own accord, we call it dehiscent.

    When you eat an apple, you notice the outer skin, mealy pulp, and an inner "papery wall" that seperates it all from the seeds. An apple is a pome, and I have to apologize for lack of a better definition. Pears are another good example of pomes. (Any better definition gets into some really technical terminology.)

    Then there are the more complex (many parts) fruits, such as pine cones. Surely you have noticed the male pollinators that a pine tree bears. Pine trees have unisexual flowers, meaning the male and female reproductive parts occur seperately. The male parts, and the female cones are called catkins. Many other plants reproduce by catkins such as this.

    Maple trees reproduce by "winged" seeds called keys. These keys are called samaras. Pine tree cones, upon reaching maturity, release their solitary keys, which "helicopter" down to the ground.

    I hope this will not add to any confusion regarding the descriptions of fruits. It has taken me quite a bit of study and repetition to understand the differences in all these definitions, and I hope my "plain Jane" way of explaining each one will make sense to any newcomer to the world of botanical descriptions. I have tried to use very common examples so there should be no real need for pictures here.
    Last edited by your_comforting_company; 07-01-2010 at 11:44 AM.
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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Reserving one more, for random stuff!!
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Great thread - its now a sticky - rep on hte way.
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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    boy, it's a lot of work putting something like this together!! bumped!
    ??
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Voice in the Wilderness preachtheWORD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by your_comforting_company View Post
    boy, it's a lot of work putting something like this together!!
    We appreciate the hard work! Keep it coming!
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    You have a great way of using photos and words to explain things YCC. All the hard work is appreciated. Thanks!

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Bump for flowers and the fruits they produce.

    Remember to use ctrl+f to search for any word you come across in your literature, when referencing this thread. While crude, and not very technical, I hope it will become a nice reference tool for anyone new to plant identification and descriptioning. I tried very hard to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible. It takes time and diligent study to accurately describe a plant you encounter, but when you learn these "lightweight" terms, you will have a much easier time understanding your field guides, and posting descriptions of plants you need help in identifying.
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    YCC!!! Holy crap! I just saw this, amazing job! Probably one of the best I have seen on any forum. Now if only all the burly hunters would learn their wild edibles too...bahhaha Good job
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    Wow, YCC, you put a LOT of time into this. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. very understandable. Well done.

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Thanks Mark. I forgot all about the missing pictures, though. I gotta go back and get those example pics in there!

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    Wow, great thread, I learned a lot. Thanks

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    Great tutorial . Just found it . I'll have to wait until I'm a little sharper to read it all . I do plan on studying it . That's a ton of work you've done .

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    Nothing short of excellent. I have visited many forums and this thread is a great key to the botany of plants.

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    I've really got to get those other pictures added... thanks for the reminder!
    Sorry I'm such a slacker!!

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