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Glossary of Botanical Terms

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Baccate - like a berry.

Bacciferous - bearing berries.

Bale - a standard bundle of agricultural merchandise such as straw, cotton or paper usually pressed or bound. The volume and weight of a bale depends on the commodity and locality.

Barbate - bearded or bearing tufts of long, weak hairs.

Barbed - bearing sharp, spine-like hooks which are bent backwards.

Bark - the protective exterior covering of the roots, stems and branches of woody plants, exterior to the cambium and including an inner layer of secondary phloem.

Barleycorn - a traditional English unit of length equal to one third of an inch. Use of seeds as average units of weight or length was common in societies based on agriculture. In the Anglo-Saxon era, barley was an important subsistence crop and barleycorns were used as units of length. Three barleycorns 'smooth and round laid end to end' were equal to the Saxon ynce (inch). Barleycorns, or grains, became the basis of all English weight systems.

Barren - sterile or otherwise incapable of reproducing.

Basal - at or referring to the base of any structure.

Basidiomycete - fungi including mushrooms, puffballs, rusts and smuts with hyphae divided by septa and that produce spores on a specialized club shaped cellular structure (basidium).

Basilaris - arising from the base.

Berry - a pulpy or fleshy fruit with one or numerous seeds embedded in the pulp.

Betaine - trimethylglycine - a quaternary ammonium compound with a sweet flavour found in sugar beet Beta vulgaris. Used for the treatment of muscular degeneration and metabolic disorders.

Betalain - a nitrogen-containing pigment characteristic of the family group Caryophyllales (Centrospermae) which includes the Cactaceae. Betalains are grouped as betacyanines (red-violet colour) and betaxanthins (yellow colour) and responsible for the red or violet colouration of some cacti under environmental stress. Betalain pigments are also found in some higher fungi. Betalains and anthocyanins never occur in the same plant.
Structure of betacyanine   Structure of betanin (beetroot red)

Bi - two or twice, as a prefix.

Bicolor - with two different colours.

Biennial - a plant that typically lives two years from sowing, usually flowering in the second year.

Bifurcate - split in two.

Bilabiate - with two lips.

Bilateral - with equal sides eg bilaterally symmetric.

Binomial name - is used to describe each species according to the system devised by Linnaeus. The name consists of the capitalised name of the genus followed by the name of the individual species e.g. Euphorbia obesa

Biopesticide - a pesticide comprising a biological control control agent,which is usually pathogenic to the target species. An example of a commerically produced biopesticide is the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis that kills only insects and not other animals. Its wide host range allows it to be marketed as a sprayable control for a variety of insects, but it may also kill unrelated desirable insects.

Bisaccate - having two little bags, sacs or pouches.

Blade - the expanded portion of a leaf or petal.

Bombycinus - silky.

Bostryx - a branching stem in which the daughter axes are all on one side. e.g. a raceme in which the flower stalks (pedicels) are all on one side.

Brackish - a mixture of salt and fresh water with intermediate salinity.

Bract - a reduced or modified leaf subtending an axis. Often found at the base of a flower or flower cluster and may form a cup around the flower in e.g. Compositae or may be brightly coloured and resemble petals in e.g. Poinsettia.

Branch - a natural division of a stem or trunk, especially a secondary stem growing off the main stem or trunk.

Bryonine - a yellowish-brown bitter alkaloid obtained from the root of White Bryony (Bryonia dioica). Extracts of the root have been used medicinally as an emetic and purgative but the toxicity of bryonine makes its use dangerous. However, it is still used in animal husbandry.

Bud - an unopened flower or a growing tip surrounded by its immature perianth segments or leaves.

Bud imprint - the outline of the margins, teeth or other features of one leaf impressed on another leaf while the two leaves are pressed together in the bud and remaining as a permanent marking after the leaves become separated. This effect is particularly marked in certain species of Agave.

Bulb - an underground food and water storage organ consisting of a short stem with one or more buds surrounded by modified leaves (scales).

Bulbil - a small vegetatively derived a plant produced on an inflorescence.

Bush - or shrub - a low, often woody, plant normally branching from the base, rather than having a single stem that branches higher up. Also applied to a thicket or to an area covered with trees, bushes or scrubby vegetation in e.g. Australia or South Africa, or generally to any wilderness area.

Bushel - an English Imperial measure of volume, of a container or basket used to measure such a volume, typically used to measure dry goods such as grain or fruit. Such a cylindrical container would be 18.5 inches in diameter and 8 inches deep. A bushel = 4 pecks, 8 English gallons (defined as the Winchester bushel by King Edward 1 in 1303), 1.2844 cubic ft, 2219.36 cubic inches (Metric: 36.369 liters). A heaped bushel is traditionally 27.8 percent larger than a regular or struck bushel which has been leveled. Agricultural goods such as grain are traditionally sold by the bushel, but as they tend to settle during shipping disputes over volumes delivered can arise. Therefore bushels of a particular commodity are defined as standard weights, often enshrined in law and it is really the weight of goods that is sold rather than the volume.