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fir
Plant Printouts
EnchantedLearning.com
Botany and Paleobotany Dictionary
yucca
Plants
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.
If the plant term you are looking for is not in the dictionary, please e-mail us.

C


C3 PLANT

A C3 plant is one that produces phosphoglyceric acid, (a molecule that has three carbon atoms) as a stable intermediary in the first step in photosynthesis (the Calvin Cycle). Most plants on Earth (over 95 percent) are C3 plants.

C4 PLANT

A C4 plant is one that produces oxaloacetic acid (a molecule that has four carbon atoms) as a stable intermediary in the first step in photosynthesis. Very few plants on Earth (less than 1 percent) are C4 plants (including corn and sugarcane). Photorespiration in C4 plants is more efficient in strong light. The processes in C4 biochemistry were studied by M. D. Hatch and C. R. Slack.

CACAO

The cacao plant (Theobroma cacao) is a evergreen flowering tree native to wet, warm forests of South and Central America. This tree grows to 40 feet (12 m) tall. After flowering, 10 to 14-inch long red fruit pods develop. In each pod are almond-shaped cacao beans and pulp. Chocolate is made from the beans in the pods of the cacao plant.
cactus

CACTUS

A cactus (the plural is cacti) is a succulent plant that can live in dry areas. It has a structure that minimizes water loss. The stems are photosynthetic, green, and fleshy. The leaves are reduced to spines or are absent. Classification: Division Magnoliophyta (angioperms), Class Magnoliopsida (dicots), Subclass Caryophyllidae, Order Caryophyllales, Family Cactaceae (Cactus).

CALIFORNIA POPPY

A golden poppy (Eschscholzia californica) from western North America. It has finely-divided foliage and cup-shaped flowers.

CALVIN CYCLE

The second stage in the process of phtosynthesis is called the Calvin Cycle (it is also called the Calvin-Benson Cycle or the Carbon Fixation Cycle. In the Calvin Cycle, carbon molecules from carbon dioxide, CO2, are fixed into the sugar glucose, (C6H12O2) (in six repeats of the cycle). The Calvin Cycle takes place in the stroma of eucaryotic chloroplasts. The major enzyme that mediates the Calvin Cycle is Rubisco (ribulose-1-5-biphosphate carboxylase). The Calvin Cycle was first investigated in the late 1940s and early 1950s by the Nobel Prize winning chemist Melvin Calvin (1911-1997).

CALYX

The calyx is the sepals of a flower.

CAMBIUM

Cambium is a layer of dividing cells found in the stems of plants. The cambium forms the specialized xylem and phloem cells and causes the stem to increase in thickness.


CANOPY

The canopy consists of the upper parts of the trees of a rainforest (about 65 to 130 feet or 20 to 40 m above the ground). The canopy is the part of a forest in which the branches of the trees spread out and block sunlight from reaching the forest floor. This leafy environment is full of life in a tropical rainforest and includes insects, birds, reptiles, mammals, and more.

CAPILLARY ACTION

Capillary action is the movement of water as it is pulled upwards through tubes (xylem) within a plant's roots, stems, and leaves. The water (containing minerals and dissolved nutrients) is driven against gravity by adhesion of the water molecules (they stick to the sides of the tubes), cohesion of those molecules (the water molecules sticking together), and surface tension (the forces of the molecules on surface of the upward-moving water).

CAPSULE

A capsule is a seed pod that opens when it is dry and the seeds are mature.

CARBON DIOXIDE

Carbon dioxide, CO2, is a molecule that has one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms; it is a gas at standard temperature and pressure. Plants use carbon dioxide gas in the photosynthetic process.


CARNIVORE

Carnivores are animals that eat meat. They usually have sharp teeth and powerful jaws.

CARPEL

The carpel is the female reproductive organ of a flower - it makes the seeds. It consists of the stigma, style and ovary. There may be more than one carpel in a flower.

CASPARIAN STRIP

The Casparian strip is waxy layer (a band of suberin, a waterproofing material) that is located in the walls of plant root cells. This barrier strip stops the transport of water and minerals into the main vascular system of the root.

CAUDEX

The caudex is an enlarged, woody base of the stem or trunk (located just below the gound) on some plants - it is used for water storage. Many desert plants have a caudex, an adaptation to dry conditions. Some palms, cycads, and succulents have a caudex.

CAUDICIFORM

Caudiciform means having a caudex.

CEDAR

Cedar trees (genus Cedrus) are large evergreen coniferous trees (up to about 80 feet tall) that have dense clusters of needles held in wide, woody peg-like structures. The barrel-shaped cones are held upright above a branch. Some cedars include: Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani); Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) - with blue-green foliage; Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara) - with drooping branches.
Plant cell anatomy

CELL

The cell is the basic structural unit of all organisms. Plant cells have a tough outer cell wall, a cell membrane, genetic material (DNA), cytoplasm, and many organelles.

CELL MEMBRANE

A cell membrane (also called the plasma membrane or plasmalemma) surrounds each plant cell (it is located within the cell wall).

CELL WALL

Plant cells have a thick, rigid cell wall located outside the cell membrane. The cell wall is made of cellulose (a polysaccharide carbohydrate), proteins, and sometimes lignin. The cell wall gives the cell most of its support and structure. The cell wall also bonds with other cell walls to form the structure of the plant.

CELLULAR RESPIRATION

Cellular respiration is a process in which energy is produced from various molecules (like glucose), producing ATP (adenosine triphosphate). During cellular respiration, oxygen is used and carbon dioxide is produced Cellular respiration occurs in the mitochondria of eukaryotes, and in the cytoplasm of prokaryotes.

CELLULOSE

Cellulose is a carbohydrate that comprises much of a plant's cell, especially the cell wall.

CENOZOIC ERA

The "Age of Mammals" (65 million years ago to today), saw the emergence of familiar life forms, humans, the modern look of the continents, and a cooling climate. The Cenozoic (meaning "recent life") followed the Mesozoic Era.

CENTROSOME

A centrosome (also called the "microtubule organizing center") is a small body located near the nucleus - it has a dense center and radiating tubules. The centrosome is where microtubules are made. During cell division (mitosis), the centrosome divides and the two parts move to opposite sides of the dividing cell. Unlike centrosomes in animal cells, plant cell centrosomes do not have centrioles.

CEREAL

A cereal is a grain that is used for human food. Some cereals include rice, oats, wheat, and barley.

CERRADO

The cerrado is a grassy, treeless plain that surrounds the Brazilian rainforest.

cf.

Cf. is an abbreviation for "compare" or "compare with."

CHALK

Chalk is a soft, white type of limestone (a sedimentary rock). It consists mostly of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) from ancient, microscopic, single-celled marine invertebrate shells. This type of rock is very porous, soft (a hardness of 3 on the Mohs scale), and crumbly. The chalk used to draw with is actually gypsum (calcium sulfate, CaSO4-2H2O)

CHARACTER

A character is a inherited trait of an organism. Characters are usually described in terms of a state, for example: "blue eyes" vs. "brown eyes," where "eyes" is the character, and "blue" and "brown" are its states.

CHICXULUB CRATER

The Chicxulub crater at the tip of the Yucatán Peninsula is an impact crater that dates from 65 million years ago. It is 120 miles wide and 1 mile deep. It is probably the site of the K-T meteorite impact that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and many other groups of organisms.

CHLOROPHYLL

Chlorophyll is a molecule that can use light energy from sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide gas into sugar and oxygen (this process is called photosynthesis). Chlorophyll is magnesium based and is usually green.

CHLOROPLAST

Chloroplasts are small green structures in plants that contain chlorophyll. Leaves have many chloroplasts.

CHONDRITIC METEOR

Chondritic meteors are stony meteors with chondrules, tiny glass spheres. These meteors are unchanged since their formation, shortly after the formation of the sun. These meteors consist of elements also common in the Earth's core.


CHROMOSOME

Chromosomes are microscopic, self-replicating structures found in the nucleus of cells. Chromosomes contain genetic material (coiled stands of DNA that contain many genes). The genome of an organism is made up of the set of chromosomes that contain all of its genes. Chromosomes were discovered by Walther Fleming in 1879; the term chromosome was proposed by Waldeyer in 1888.


CINCHONA TREE

The cinchona tree is a tropical tree that is the primary source of the anit-malarial drug quinine. Quinine is found in the bark of the cinchona tree. Quinine is a chemical that cures malaria, a deadly tropical disease carried by mosquitoes. There are many species of cinchona; they range from about 15 to 20 meters tall. The cinchona tree is native to rainforests of the eastern slope of the Amazonian Andes of South America, where it is called the "fever tree." Classification: Family Rubiaceae, Genus Cinchona, Species C. officinalis, C. ledgeriana, C. uccirubra, C. calisaya, and others.


CLADODE

A cladode is a stem that looks like a leaf.


CLADE

A clade is a group of all the organisms that share a particular common ancestor (and therefore have similar features). The members of a clade are related to each other. A clade is monophyletic.

CLADISTICS

Cladistics is a method of classifying organisms based on common ancestry and the branching of the evolutionary family tree. Organisms that share common ancestors (and therefore have similar features) are grouped into taxonomic groups called clades. Cladistics can also be used to predict properties of yet-to-be discovered organisms.

CLADOGRAM

Cladograms are branching diagrams that depict species divergence from common ancestors. They show the distribution and origins of shared characteristics. Cladograms are testable hypotheses of phylogenetic relationships.

CLASS

In classification (taxonomy), a class is a group of related or similar organisms. A class contains one or more orders. A group of similar classes forms a phylum.

CLASSIFICATION

The classification of organisms helps in their study. Cladistics is a method based on common ancestry; the Linnean system is based on a simple hierarchical structure.


CLEFT

A cleft (also called parted) leaf is one in which the margins between the irregular teeth go more than halfway to the midrib.

CLOUD FOREST

A cloud forest is a rainforest that is on a mountainside. It is usually misty and cloudy.

CLIMAX VEGETATION

Climax vegetation is the final stage in the development of an area.
Lepidodendron
CLUB MOSSES

Club mosses (Lycopsids) are primitive, vascular plants (pteridophytes) that evolved over 375 million years ago (during the Devonian). Huge club mosses went extinct during the Permian mass extinction; smaller ones lived during the time of the dinosaurs. These plants live near moisture (in order for their spores to germinate). These fast-growing, resilient plants propagate with rhizomes (underground stems). Classification: Division Lycopodiophyta, Class Lycopodiopsida, Order Lycopodiales, Family Lycopodiaceae (Club-mosses).


COAL

Coal is a combustible mineral formed from organic matter (mostly plant material) that lived about 300 million years ago (during the Pennsylvanian Period ). During the Pennsylvanian Period, the earth was covered with huge swampy forests of giant ferns, horsetails, and club mosses. As layer upon layer of these plants died, they were compressed and covered with soil, stopping the decomposition process, forming peat. Heat and pressure chemically forced out oxygen and hydrogen, leaving carbon-rich deposits, called coal. A 20-foot-thick layer of plant material produces a one-foot-thick layer (seam) of coal.


COLEOPTILE

A coleoptile is a protective sheath that surrounds the shoot tip and the embryonic leaves of the young shoot of grasses.


COMET

A comet is a celestial body that orbits around the sun. Its tail of gas and dust always points away from the sun.

COMMENSALISM

Commensalism is a situation in which two organisms are associated in a relationship in which one benefits from the relationship and the other is not affected much. The two animals are called commensals. An example pf commensalism is bromeliads (plants living on trees in rainforests) and frogs; the frogs get shelter and water from the bromeliad but the bromeliad is unaffected. Commensalism is a type of symbiosis.

COMPANION CELL

A companion cell is a type of cell that pumps nutrients (sugars) into phloem cells.


COMPLETE FLOWER

A complete flower has a stamen, a pistil, petals, and sepals.

COMPOSITE FLOWER

A composite flower (like the sunflower) has a many individual flowers (called florets) on a wide, flat receptacle, that look like a single flower. The flowers in the central disk are called disk flowers; the flowers on the periphery are called ray flowers. This group is called Asteraceae (Compositae).

COMPOUND LEAF

A compound leaf is a leaf that is divided into many separate parts (leaflets) along a midrib (the rachis). All the leaflets of a compound leaf are oriented in the same plane. When a compound leaf falls from the tree, it falls as a unit. A double compound leaf is one in which each leaflet of a compound leaf is also made up of secondary leaflets.

CONE

A cone (strobilus) is the reproductive fruiting structure of many tracheophytes. It is a group of scales that are joined to a central stalk; the seeds are borne on the surface of the cone scales. A cone scale contains either ovules or spores (depending on whether it is female or male).


CONIFER

Most conifers are evergreen trees and shrubs that bear naked seeds in cones (a woody strobilus). Examples of modern-day conifers include pine, fir, larch, redwood, and spruce trees. Mesozoic Era conifers included redwoods, yews, pines, the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria), cypress, and Pseudofrenelopsis (a Cheirolepidiacean). Towards the end of the Mesozoic, flowering plants flourished and began to overtake conifers as the dominant flora.

CONSERVATION

Conservation is the wise use of natural resources (plants, animals, minerals, water, etc.) so that they are not damaged and will be in good condition in the future.
Food chain

CONSUMER

A consumer is a living thing that eats other living things to survive. It cannot make its own food (unlike most plants, which are producers). Primary consumers eat producers, secondary consumers eat primary consumers, and so on. There are always many more primary consumers than secondary consumers, etc.

CONTINENTAL DRIFT

Continental drift is the movement of the Earth's continents. The land masses are hunks of Earth's crust that float on the molten core. The ideas of continental drift and the supercontinent of Pangaea were presented by A. Wegener in 1915.

CONTRACTILE ROOT

A contractile root is a root that contracts (gets smaller) and pulls down the crown of the plant below the surface of the soil.

CONVERGENT EVOLUTION

Convergent evolution (convergence) is when a trait develops independently in two or more groups of organisms. An example of convergence is the wings of Pterodactyls and bats.

COOKSONIA

Cooksonia is the oldest-known land plant. This primitive plant dates from Silurian period, about 428 million years ago Cooksonia was an erect plant with dichotomous branches and terminal sporangia (sacs that produce reproductive spores). Cooksonia fosils have been found in the USA, Canada, and Czechoslovakia.

COPPICE SHOOT

A coppice shoot (also called a epicormic shoot, sap shoot, water shoot, or water sprout) is a shoot (new growth) that arises from an adventitious or dormant bud on a branch or a stem of a plant (usually near the base of the plant). This fast-growing shoot often starts to grow when part of a forest canopy is removed or thinned (allowing light in).

COPPICE STAND

A coppice stand is an area of coppice shoots.
COQUINA
Coquina is a type of limestone (a kind of sedimentary rock) that is mostly made of shells and shell fragments.

CORDATE LEAF

A cordate leaf has a heart shape, with the wide part towards the petiole.

CORK

Cork (also called periderm) is the soft, light-weight bark of the cork oak tree. This low-density material floats in water. Cork cells are made by cork cambium cells. Cork contains suberin, a waxy, water-proof material. Cork protects the tree from water loss and from insects and infections.
CORM
A corm is a fleshy underground stem of some plants. It looks like a bulb, but is solid (it is not formed in layers).
corn
CORN

Corn (Zea mays), also called maize, is a type of cereal grass; it is an edible grain. This tall, annual plant has long, alternately-spaced blade-like leaves, and a strong, solid stem. The edible part of corn in the kernels, rows of seeds that grow on an elongated ear covered by husks (specialized leaves). A flowering plant, staminate (male) flowers grow on the tassels at the end of the main axis of the stem. The pistillate (female) inflorescence grows into the ear of corn, and is a spike having a thick axis paired spikelets in rows (each row of paired spikelets produces two rows of grain). The ear is covered by modified leaves, called husks or shucks. It an important agricultural plant native to Mexico or South America. Corn evolved in the Americas, but has been brought all around the world by people; it is the second-largest food crop (behind wheat). Classification: Division Magnoliophyta (angioperms), Class Magnoliopsida (dicots), Class Liliopsida (monocots), Subclass Commelinidae (grasses, sedges and rushes), Order Cyperales, Family Poaceae (Gramineae) (grasses).
COROLLA
The corolla consists of the petals of a flower.

CORPSE FLOWER

The "corpse flower" is the world's largest flower. This giant bloom is found in rainforests of Indonesia. It's scientific name is Rafflesia arnoldi. Rafflesia gives off a putrid smell that reminds people of rotting meat (this odor attracts its pollenators, beetles and flies), hence its nickname. Rafflesia's enormous flower is about 3 feet (1 m) across and weighs about 20 pounds (9 kilograms). The flower takes about a year to develop, then it blooms for about a week before dying. The flower has five wide orange petals (with pale dots) surrounding a spiked cup. Rafflesia has no stem, no roots, and no leaves. The flower is supported by fungus-like tissue that lives in another plant - the Tetrastigma vine.
COTYLEDON
The cotyledon is the embryonic leaf within a seed. When a seed germinates, the cotyledon is the first leaf to grow. Monocots have one cotyledon; dicots have two cotyledons.


CRENATE

A crenate leaf has edges (margins) shaped like rounded teeth.


CRENOLATE

A crenolate leaf margin has edges that are shallow-toothed.


CRISTAE

(singular crista) The multiply-folded inner membrane of a cell's mitochondrion that are finger-like projections. The walls of the cristae are the site of the cell's energy production (it is where ATP is generated).

CROSS-POLLINATION

Cross-pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma of a flower on a different plant.


CYTOPLASM

Cytoplasm is the jelly-like material outside the cell nucleus in which the organelles are located (the entire contents of the cell located inside the plasma membrane, but excluding the nucleus).


CYTOSOL

Cytoplasm is the jelly-like material in cells, excluding the cell nucleus and all organelles (the entire contents of the cell located inside the plasma membrane, but excluding the nucleus and other organelles).
CRETACEOUS PERIOD

Dinosaurs were at their height during the Cretaceous period, 146-65 million years ago, and flowering plants spread and flourished. There was a mass extinction (the K-T mass extinction) at the end of the Cretaceous, marking the end of the dinosaurs and many other species of animals and plants.

CRISPED

Crisped leaves have a tighly curled margin. Parsley and kale leaves are crisped.
CROZIER
The crozier is the spirally coiled "fiddlehead" of a young fern leaf.

CROWN

The crown of a plant is the area from which new shoots arise or the point at which the roots meet the stem. Also, the upper area of the tree that has a lot of branching and leaves.

CRYPTOGAM

Cryptogams are plants and plant-like organisms that do not reproduce with seeds and do not produce flowers. Many cryptogams reproduce using spores. Ferns, mosses, fungi, and algae are cryptogams.


CRYSTALS

Crystals are solids whose atoms form a very regular pattern.

CULM

A culm is the elongated straw or hollow stem of grasses. The culm usually supportes the inflorescence.
CULTIVAR
A cultivar is a plant that is a cultivated (bred) variety.
CUNEATE
Cuneate means wedge-shaped.
CUTICLE
The cuticle is the fatty or waxy outer layer of epidermal cells that are above ground.

CYANOBACTERIA

Cyanobacteria Blue-green algae (also called blue-green algae) are simple, (usually) one-celled photosynthetic organisms that lack a membrane-bound nucleus (they are prokaryotic). They belong to the kingdom Monera.

CYCAD

Cycads (Cycadophyta) are primitive seed plants that dominated the Jurassic period (cycads comprised 20% of the world flora). Cycads are palm-like trees that live in warm climates. Separate male and female plants exist (they are dioecious). These gymnosperms have long, divided leaves and produce large cones. Cycads evolved during the Pennsylvanian, had their heyday during the Mesozoic, and only about 185 species (in 11 genera) still exist today. Leptocycas (shown above) and Ptilophyllum were Mesozoic Era cycads. Later cycads had a more rounded, barrel-like base. Classifcation: Division Pinophyta (Gymnosperms), Subdivision Cycadicae, Class Cycadopsida, Order Cycadales, Family Cycadaceae (Cycads)
Williamsonia
CYCADEOID

Cycadeoids (Bennettitales) were plants with woody stems (some erect, some spherical) and very tough leaves. Cycadeoids do not always have separate male and female plants. Cycadeoids are now extinct. Some Mesozoic Cycadeoids included: Cycadeoidea, Vardekloeftia, Williamsonia (shown above), Williamsoniella, Westersheimia, and Leguminanthus.

CYCADOPHYTES

Cycadophytes included the Cycads and Cycadeoids (Bennettitales), plants with woody stems (some erect, some spherical) and very tough leaves. These two groups differ mainly in the way they reproduce: Cycads have separate male and female plants; Cycadeoids do not always. Cycadeoids are now extinct but there are still a few cycads. Some Mesozoic Era Cycads included: Leptocycas, Cycas, Zamia, Dioon, Bowenia, Stangeria, and Microcyas. Some Mesozoic Cycadeoids included: Cycadeoidea, Vardekloeftia, Williamsonia, Williamsoniella, Westersheimia, and Leguminanthus.
CYME
A cyme is an inflorescence where the central flower opens first.
Plant cell anatomy
CYTOPLASM

Cytoplasm is a clear, jelly-like fluid found inside cells.
CYTOSKELETON
The cytoskeleton is a network of protein filaments and microtubules that are located in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cell, just under the cell membrane. The cytoskeleton acts as a support for the cell, as a spatial organizer, and as a channel for some chemical transport.
fir
Plant Printouts
EnchantedLearning.com
Botany and Paleobotany Dictionary
yucca
Plants
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.
If the plant term you are looking for is not in the dictionary, please e-mail us.

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