Alternate: leaves that are borne one per node on a stem, offset from each other along the stem, neither whorled or in pairs–see milkbark (Drypetes diversifolia). In the case of compound leaves, which are made up of several leaflets, alternate leaflets are not attached at the same point on a leafstalk but are staggered along the leafstalk–see Florida cupania (Cupania glabra). Compare with “opposite,” below.
Annual: a plant that completes its entire life cycle–germination, flowering, fruiting, setting seed, and dying–in one year.
Anther: the part of the stamen that carries pollen, usually at the tip of the stamen–see Lakela’s mint (Dicerandra immaculata) and Bartram’s ixia (Calydorea coelestina).
Awn: a slender, bristle-like appendage–see Florida toothache grass (Ctenium floridanum) and scrub bluestem (Schizachyrium niveum).
Axil: the angle between stem and leaf, or main stem and smaller branch.
Banner petal: the large, usually upper petal of many pea family flowers; also known as a standard petal–see narrowleaf hoarypea (Tephrosia angustissima). Also see sand butterfly pea (Centrosema arenicola) for an example of a banner petal that is held downward.
Biennial: a plant that lives two years, usually forming a rosette of basal leaves one year, then flowering and dying the next year.
Bract - (1) A very small leaf-like structure collectively forming a tight series of whorls around or under a flower head, also known as a phyllary or involucral bract in the composite (Asteraceae) family–see Cape Sable thoroughwort (Eupatorium frustratum); or (2) a small, often leaf-like structure on an otherwise leafless flower stalk–see giant orchid (Pteroglossaspis ecristata).
Calyx: a collective term for the sepals surrounding or underlying a flower– see Brooksville bellflower (Campanula robinsiae). Also see “sepal” below.
Cilia: straight hairs usually found along the margins of a leaf, bud scale, ocrea, or other structure.
Compound: a leaf with two or more leaflets–see white inkwood (Hypelate trifoliata) and meadow joint-vetch (Aeschynomene pratensis). Compare with “simple,” below.
Corona: a showy, cup-like or crown-like structure in the middle of some flowers–see Henry’s spiderlily (Hymenocallis henryae) and southern milkweed (Asclepias viridula).
Cyathium(plural - cyathia): a specialized type of flower found in the spurge family (Euphorbiaceae), consisting of a cup-like structure, a single pistil, and male flowers with a single stamen–see telephus spurge (Euphorbia telephioides).
Disk flower: one of the many small flowers that make up the central part of composite family (Asteraceae) flower heads; disk flowers comprise the “eye” of a daisy. The disk is often surrounded by a whorl of ray flowers that are sometimes mistaken for petals–see St. John’s black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia nitida). Some composites have only disk flowers and no ray flowers–see Florida hasteola (Hasteola robertiorum). Compare with “ray flower,” below.
Endemic: found only in a certain region; a species endemic to Florida is found nowhere else in the world. Florida has a high rate of endemism, i.e. a high number of endemic plant species, due to its unique geological history.
Entire: leaf margin that has no teeth, notches, lobes, or other divisions–see Bahama maidenbush (Savia bahamensis).
Epiphyte: “airplant,” a plant that grows on the trunks or branches of other plants, but is not a parasite–see Fuchs’ bromeliad (Guzmania monostachya) and leafless bentspur orchid (Campylocentrum pachyrrhizum).
Extirpated: eliminated from a given area or region; locally extinct.
Floral or flower tube: tubular part of a flower, usually the lower portion, that expands into petals or lobes–see Florida waxweed (Cuphea aspera), fragrant prickly apple (Harrisia fragrans), and Henry’s spiderlily (Hymenocallis henryae).
Flower stalk: the structure that joins flower to stem; also known as a scape, a pedicel, or a peduncle, depending on the flower type.
Gynostegium: a structure found in the flowers of milkweeds consisting of stamens fused to the pistil–see Alabama spiny-pod (Matelea alabamensis).
Herb: a soft-bodied, non-woody plant.
Indusium (plural - indusia): a small flap of leaf tissue that covers the sorus (spore-bearing area) on a fern leaf–see single-sorus spleenwort (Asplenium monanthes) and least halberd fern (Tectaria fimbriata).
Inflorescence: a cluster of flowers; may be loosely and sparingly branched, as in Mosier’s brickell-bush (Brickellia mosieri), or tightly clustered, as in Biscayne prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum coriaceum).
Involucre: (1) cup-like structure that encloses the bases of several flowers– see scrub buckwheat (Eriogonum longifolium var. gnaphalifolium); (2) a whorl of bracts surrounding or underlying a tight cluster or head of flowers, with the bracts often occurring in several series or whorls–see pine-woods aster (Aster spinulosus); (3) cup-like structure bearing spores at leaf tips of some ferns–see Florida filmy fern (Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum).
Leaf scar: the scar left behind on a twig after a leaf falls, formed by the attachment of the leaf stalk to the twig. Leaf scars can be used to identify deciduous plants in the winter–see Ashe’s magnolia (Magnolia ashei).
Leaf stalk: structure that joins the blade of a leaf to a plant’s stem; also known as a petiole.
Legume: the fruit pod of the pea family (Fabaceae or Leguminosae).
Lenticel: a slightly raised, usually corky or spongy patch on the surface of a stem, root, or tree trunk–see corkwood (Leitneria floridana).
Ocrea: a papery sheath surrounding the stem near the base of the leaf stalk of many members of the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae). The margins of the ocrea may be hairy, fringed, or entire–see Small’s jointweed (Polygonella myriophylla).
Opposite: leaves borne two per node, across from each other on a stem, in pairs–see Florida skullcap (Scutellaria floridana). In the case of compound leaves, opposite leaflets are borne in pairs along the leafstalk–see Biscayne prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum coriaceum). Compare with “alternate,” above.
Pappus: bristles or scales surrounding the disk flowers of plants in the composite family (Asteraceae)–see Godfrey’s blazing star (Liatris provincialis).
Perennial: a plant that lives 3 or more years.
Phyllary: see bract (1), above.
Pistil: the fruit-producing, or “female,” reproductive part of a flower, consisting of an ovary, style, and stigma, usually located in the center of the flower.
Pseudobulb: a thickened or bulbous portion of the stem of some epiphytic orchids–see cowhorn orchid (Cyrtopodium punctatum) and dollar orchid (Encyclia boothiana).
Ray flower: one of the strap-shaped flowers that form a whorl around the central disk in composite (Asteraceae) flower heads; ray flowers are some-times mistaken for petals of a typical flower–see purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Compare with “disk flower,” above.
Receptacle: a small flat, rounded, or conical platform at the end of a flower stalk that holds or supports the flowers–see purple honeycomb-head (Balduina purpurea).
Rosette: a cluster of leaves usually radiating from a single point–see dark-headed hatpins (Eriocaulon nigrobracteatum) and many-flowered catopsis (Catopsis floribunda).
Sepals: small, leafy, usually green structures usually in a whorl immediately underlying the flower; the combined sepals make up the calyx. Sepals may be showy, as in many orchids–see clamshell orchid (Encyclia cochleata)–or otherwise function as petals in some flowers–see pinewood dainties (Phyllanthus liebmannianus ssp. platylepis) and Crystal Lake nailwort (Paronychia chartacea ssp. minima).
Shrub: woody plant, usually with several trunks, that is usually shorter than a tree.
Simple: a leaf with a single blade that is not divided into leaflets–see red stopper (Eugenia rhombea). Compare with “compound,” above.
Soral involucre: tiny, conical, flaring cups bearing spores on the leaf tips of some ferns–see Florida filmy fern (Trichomanes punctatum ssp. floridanum).
Sorus (plural - sori): a cluster of sporangia, or spore-producing structures, on the surface of a fern leaf–see toothed lattice-vein fern (Thelypteris serrata).
Sporangium (plural - sporangia): the spore-producing structure in ferns; sporangia are clustered in a sorus (see above)–see least halberd fern (Tectaria fimbriata) and American birds’s nest fern (Asplenium serratum).
Spur shoot: a short stem with very crowded nodes, bearing leaves and/or flowers–see small-flowered lilythorn (Catesbaea parviflora) and Thorne’s buckthorn (Sideroxylon thornei).
Stamen: the pollen-producing, or “male,” structure of a flower consisting of an anther (see above) and a filament, the small stalk that supports the anther. Stamens typically surround the pistil in the center of the flower–see Carter’s flax (Linum carteri var. carteri) and Lakela’s mint (Dicerandra immaculata). Showy stamens sometimes function like petals to attract pollinators–see dwarf witch alder (Fothergilla gardenii).
Stipules: a pair of small, leafy bracts at the base of the leaf stalk in some plants–see Florida willow (Salix floridana) and scrub lupine (Lupinus aridorum). Stipule scars may be useful for identification–see Ashe’s magnolia (Magnolia ashei).
Style: the portion of the pistil that connects the ovary to the stigma and carries pollen from the stigme to the unfertilized egg in the ovary; may be long and slender or short and stout; some plants have more than one style per pistil–see Carter’s flax (Linum carteri var. carteri).
Tepals: a collective term for the sepals and petals when all are nearly identical in color and shape–see Harper’s beauty (Harperocallis flava).
Tree: a woody plant, usually with a single trunk over 6 feet tall at maturity, that lives many years.