Native North American Orchid GLOSSARY

  • Please email with additional terms and definitions. I'll try to add terms and address any problems as soon as possible.

    The sources of this list, so far, are as follows:
    0] Anderson, Les;
    1] Brown, P.M. 1997. Glossary. North American Native Orchid Journal. 3(1): 121-128;
    2] Crib and Bailes 1989. Hardy Orchids, Timber Press Portland, Oregon; pp. 124-125;
    3) Brookside Orchid Garden web page.

    achlorophyllous: without chlorophyll (1)

    acid: : a pH of less than 7; a high concentration of hydrogen ions (1)

    acidic: : of soils, with a pH of below 7. (2)

    adventitious: buds and roots appearing in abnormal places on the stem of the plant. (2)

    aeration: : the supplying of air; the providing of oxygen (1)

    alba: : refers to white-flowered forms (1)

    albinism: : the lack of a color (1)

    albinistic: : lacking all color or pigment (1)

    alkaline: : sweet, or basic, as opposed to acidic; with a pH of more than 7 (1)

    alkaline substrate: : a soil with a pH of greater than 7; often limestone (1)

    alkaline: : of soils, with a pH of above 7. (2)

    alliance: : a loose grouping of different genera (singular: genus) that still exhibit some relatedness. Usually members of the same alliance can breed together. (3)

    alliance: : a group of loosely related species (1)

    alternate leaves: : leaves that are arranged on a stem in uneven steps; with only one leaf at a node (1)

    ambient temperature: : surrounding; encircling temperature (1)

    amino acid: : an organic compound which contains both an amino group (NH2) and a carboxylic acid group (COOH), especially any of the 20 compounds that have the basic formula NH2CHROOH, and that link together in peptide bonds to form proteins (1)

    amorphous: : lacking definite form; shapeless (1)

    anaerobic: : without air, sour. (2)

    anther: : the pollen-bearing, male, reproductive organ; at the tip of a stamen (1)

    anther: : the portion of a stamen in a flower that produces the pollen. (2)

    apical: : at the apex. The tip of a stem. (2)

    aquatic: : growing in water. (2)

    areal: : of or pertaining to an area (1)

    asexual: : a form of propagation using vegetative parts of plants rather than seed. (2)

    asymbiotic germination: : the germination of seed without the benefit of mycorrhizae (1)

    autotrophism (autotrophic): : able to obtain its food by photosynthesis (rather than feeding on something else, heterotrophic) (1)

    axillary: : arising from the axil of leaf and stem. (2)

    backbulb: : old pseudobulbs towards the rear of a plant. (2)

    barrens: : areas with very little vegetation (1)

    bigeneric: : hybrid produced from two genera eg. x Orchiaceras (Orchis x Aceras). (2)

    bract: : leaf-like organ that subtends a flower stalk. (2)

    breaking: : the beginning of growth of a bud. (2)

    bulb pans: : shallow pots, broader than deep (1)

    calcareous: : calcareous areas are areas with a limy or calcareous substrate (usually limestone) and with a relatively high pH. Calcareous species are species which grow best on alkaline substrates with a high pH (calciphiles) (1)

    calciphile: : species which grow best on an alkaline substrate (1)

    callus: (pl. calli): : entire or dissected outgrowth on the upper surface of the lip of an orchid flower. (2)

    canopy: : the upper story of the forest (1)

    chitin: : a tough, protective, semi-transparent substance, primarily a nitrogen-containing polysaccharide, forming the principal component of many arthropod exoskeletons and the cell walls of certain fungi (1)

    chlorophyll: : a green pigment, important in photosynthesis, found in discrete organelles (chloroplasts) in the cells of plants, usually in the leaves (2)

    chlorotic: : a yellow appearance in foliage as opposed to the normal healthy green color. (2)

    clay substrates: : clay soils (1)

    climax vegetation: : the vegetation of an area that will be present ultimately after a number of successional changes;the plants that will be present in an area after it has been left alone for an indefinite period of time (1)

    clone: : individuals of identical genetic make-up which result from asexual reproduction (1)

    clone: : a group of plants propagated asexually from one plant. (2)

    cloud forest: an extremely wet tropical forest habitat, where plants are frequently bathed in cooling, humidifying, cloud-like mists. (3)

    colonized: said of an area on which have developed sizable groups of a given species (1)

    complex: a group of closely related species (1)

    coniferous: cone-bearing; most are evergreen (1)

    consecutively flowering inflorescence: some spikes or inflorescences open all of their flowers at once. Others open their flowers one at a time, waiting until the first one starts dying before the second one begins to open. These are called consecutively flowering, or sequential bloomers. (3)

    conspecific: belonging to the same species (1)

    cortex: the region of tissue in a root or stem lying between the epidermis and the vascular tissue (1)

    cultural: refers to methods used for cultivating plants (1)

    cytokinin: any of a class of plant hormones that promote cell division and growth and delay the senescence (aging) of leaves (1)

    deciduous: annually losing and replacing its leaves; falling early (1)

    deciduous: the habit of shedding leaves, usually for a regular dormant period. (2)

    deflasking: removing from a flask (1)

    dormancy: period of non-growth usually associated with adverse conditions. (2)

    dormant: not actively growing (1)

    dormant eyes: growth buds that have not yet begun to grow (1)

    dorsal sepal: the uppermost part of the outer perianth (1)

    dynamic: continually altered or changing (1)

    embryo: the initial stage of a developing organism (1)

    empirical: knowledge gained from observation (1)

    endogenously : produced or growing from within (1)

    enzymes: any of numerous proteins or conjugated proteins produced by living organisms and functioning as biochemical catalysts; they speed up the rate of chemical reactions without being used up themselves (1)

    epidermal: on the surface; the layer of cells on the surface of the plant (1)

    epiphyte: a plant that grows upon another plant while only using the plant as a substrate. (0)

    equitant: the name given to a group of species and hybrids within the genus Oncidium. Plants are characteristically dwarf and fleshy leaved, producing clusters of dainty and often spotted flowers above the foliage. (3)

    evergreen: retaining leaves throughout the year. (2)

    everted: turned inside out or outward (1)

    excision: removal by or as if by cutting (1)

    exoskeleton: a hard outer structure, such as the shell of an insect or a crustacean, that provides protection or support for an organism; an outer skeleton (1)

    explant: living tissue which is removed from the natural site of growth and placed in a medium for culture (1)

    eye: vegetative bud. (2)

    floral stance: the position of the flower (1)

    flower primordia: flowers or parts in their most rudimentary form or stage of development (1)

    foliage : the leaves of a plant. (3)

    fungicides: chemicals used to kill fungi (1)

    genera: plural of genus (1)

    genus: a taxonomic term for a group of closely related species (1)

    genus: a taxonomic term to describe a group of closely related plant types, whose members have significant differences between them. (3)

    germinate: for a seed to start opening or growing (1)

    habitat: the area where a plant grows in its native haunts. (2)

    halictid: a specific taxonomic group of bees (1)

    hardy : frost tolerant. (2)

    herbarium: a collection of dried, pressed plant specimens (1)

    herbivory: the eating of plants (as compared to carnivory, the eating of animals) (1)

    hirsute: with long, soft hairs (1)

    homology: the relation of comparable structures with a common origin (1)

    humus: a growing medium rich in organic matter (1)

    humus: decomposing organic matter. (2)

    hybrid: the progeny of two different species (1)

    hybrid: the creation of a new type of plant using two different species (or hybrids) as parents. (3)

    hybrid: plant resulting from the crossing of two distinct species. (2)

    hyphae: thread-like filaments which make up the vegetative part of fungi (mycelium is a mass of hyphae) (1)

    in vitro: in an artificial environment outside the living organism (in glass) (1)

    in vitro: in glass. Refers to the production of plants in glass containers, usually under sterile laboratory conditions. (2)

    inflorescence: the same type of organ as a spike, and acts as the structural support for the flowers. (3)

    inflorescence: the flowers on the floral axis. (2)

    infolding: with the edges folded inward (1)

    infrastructure: an underlying base or foundation especially for an organization or a system (1)

    inorganic: non-living; a growing medium lacking organic matter; not produced by living things; lacks carbon (1)

    interface: a surface forming a common boundary between adjacent regions, bodies, substances, or phases (1)

    intergeneric hybrid: the creation of a new type of plant using two different species (or hybrids) from two different genera. (3)

    internode: the section of stem between two nodes. (2)

    isotopes: one of two or more atoms having the same atomic number, but different mass numbers; atoms having the same number of protons, but a different number of neutrons and a different weight (1)

    kinetin: a plant hormone that promotes cell division (1)

    labellar fissure: the opening in the pouch of an orchid (1)

    lead: the new growth on sympodial orchids. (2)

    leaf bracts: reduced leaf-like structures (1)

    leafless: growing without leaves. (2)

    lithophyte: a plant that grows on rock. (0)

    lip: (also Labellum): the modified odd petal of the orchid flower; usually lowermost. (2)

    lipids: any of a group of organic compounds, including the fats, oils, waxes, sterols, and triglycerides, that are insoluble in water but soluble in common organic solvents, are oily to the touch, and together with carbohydrates and proteins constitute the principle structural material of living cells (1)

    LR White resin: a plastic-like compound used in microscopy to make material strong for sectioning with a microtome (1)

    marginal: of plants, usually refers to those that grow in moist situations close to water. (2)

    medium: the material in which an orchid is grown. (2)

    meristematic: the undifferentiated plant tissue from which new cells are formed, as that at the tip of a stem or root; plant tissue in which the cells divide and form new growth (1)

    metabolized nitrogen: nitrogen that has been absorbed by living organisms (1)

    microbial: having to do with microscopic organisms (1)

    microclimate: localized habitat; the climate of a small, specific place within an area as contrasted with the climate of the entire area (1)

    monopodial: growth habit in which the stem continues to grow indefinitely, rather than forming a resting bud (see sympodial). (2)

    montane grasslands: mountain meadows (1)

    montane species: high elevation species (1)

    morphological: size and shape (1)

    multifloral: having many flowers. (3)

    mutant: an individual in which a new characteristic appears resulting from a mutation (1)

    mutation: a sudden and permanent change in the DNA which makes up a gene (1)

    mycelium: a mass of hyphae (1)

    mycological: having to do with fungi (1)

    mycorrhiza: (pl. mycorrhizae) a fungus intimately associated with the root cells of a plant and providing essential nutrients for the growth of the plant (2)

    mycorrhizal: the symbiotic association of the mycelium of a fungus with the roots of certain plants, such as conifers, beeches, or orchids (1)

    necrosis: death (1)

    neutral: having a pH of 7 or close thereto; neither acid nor alkaline (1)

    neutral: of soils, those with a pH of 7. (2)

    node: a scale-like structure on a spike, from which may grow new plants parts such as small plants or a new flower spike. (3)

    node: the point on a stem or pseudobulb where the leaves are attached. (2)

    nothomorph: (nm.) taxonomic term for different forms of a nothospecies derived from different varieties of the parent species (1)

    nothospecies: taxonomic term for a hybrid that has received a name (1)

    offset: lateral shoot, above ground, producing roots, which can be detached and grown on. (2)

    opposite leaves: the arrangement of leaves such that two leaves are arranged evenly across from each other on the stem; two or more leaves at a node (1)

    organic: created by living cells, or originally made by living things. Always carbon based. (0)

    orifice: the opening of the spur at the base of the lip of an orchid (1)

    ovaries: the seed bearing organs at the base of the pistil(s); female reproductive organs (1)

    parasites: organisms that live on or at the expense of other organisms (1)

    pathogen: an agent that causes disease, especially a living microorganism such as a bacterium or fungus (1)

    perennial: a plant with a life cycle that continues for more than two years. (2)

    perianth: the outer part of a flower, enclosing stamens and carpels; usualy comprising two whorls. (calyx and corolla) (1)

    pericycle: a plant tissue characteristic of the roots, located between the endodermis and phloem; it is from this layer that root branching takes place (1)

    petal: one segment of the corolla, the sterile inner whorl of floral segments, often brightly colored in orchids. (2)

    pH: the pH scale is based on the concentration of hydrogen ions and gives the acidity or alkalinity; a pH of (1)-6 is acid, 7 is neutral, and 8 through (1)4 is alkaline (basic) (1)

    pheromone: a chemical secreted by an animal, especially an insect, that influences the behavior or development of others of the same species (1)

    photosynthetic: capable of photosynthesis, the production of food by green plants. In the presence of chlorophyll and light energy from the sun, carbon dioxide and water are converted into glucose (food) with the release of oxygen (1)

    phytogeographic: the study of the geographic distribution of plants (1)

    pigmentation: density of color; having pigments in the visible cell layers of a plant (1)

    pollinia / pollinium: a coherent mass of pollen grains, as in the orchids; generally transferred as a unit in pollination (1)

    pollinium: (pl.pollinia): one of the discrete pollen masses in the anther of an orchid. (2)

    population ecology: study of the distribution, environment and habitat; the relationships of plants to each other (1)

    pot culture: the growing of plants in pots (container growing) (1)

    procumbent: lying flat. Habit of growth of a stem lying flat on the surface of the medium. (2)

    propagules: any of various usually vegetative portions of a plant such as a bud or other offshoot, that aid in dispersal of the species and from which a new individual may develop (1)

    protocorm: the initial stage of development for every orchid; a small "ball" of cells (1)

    provenance: the area from which a plant is derived. (2)

    pseudobulb : thickened portion of stem on sympodial orchids, (2)

    pseudobulbous: possessing pseudobulbs. (2)

    rhizome: a thickened surficial stage or underground stem from which roots and growth buds emerge (1)

    rhizome: a horizontal stem, either creeping along the surface or underground. (2)

    rhizosphere : within the area of the roots (1)

    rockwool: an artificial growing medium, spun from melted rocks and then cooled resulting in a structure very similar to fiberglass (1)

    rosette: dense spiral of leaves, usually borne at ground level. (2)

    salep: a flour made from ground tubers of certain European and Middle Eastern orchids, claimed to have aphrodisiac properties. (2)

    saprophytes: plants, fungi, etc. that feed on dead organic matter (1)

    senescence: aging (1)

    sepal: the outer portion of the perianth of the flower (1)

    sepal: one segment of the calyx, the outer sterile whorl of the flower, may be green or colored in orchids. (2)

    shale: a metamorphic rock formed from clay or mud, which splits into thin layers (1)

    shoot: the new growth of a plant. (2)

    soil pH: a scale for describing the relative acidity and / or alkalinity of the soil (1)

    solar radiation: warmth and light, etc., from the sun; whatever is radiated by the sun (1)

    speciation: evolutionary process that creates new species (1)

    species: members of a genus are referred to as species. Any plant of a single species shares a majority of characteristics, while different species of the same genus exhibit one or more traits that are significantly different from each other. (3)

    spike: a plant organ acting solely as the structural support for the flowers. Spikes emerge from the orchid "stem", from which flower buds grow and develop. (3)

    spur: slender, tube-like appendage at the base of the lip of an orchid (1)

    Spur: a sack-like to filamentous extension of the base of the lip which may or may not be nectariferous in orchids. (2)

    staminode: sterile stamen; shield-shaped structure found within the flower of Cypripedium; the pollinia are found beneath (there are no true stamens as such) (1)

    static: not changing (1)

    stele: the central core of vascular tissue in a plant stem or root; it includes the xylem (conducts water) and phloem (conducts dissolved foods) (1)

    stoloniferous: reproducing vegetatively by means of stolons, creeping stems which run near the surface or along the ground and send forth new roots and shoots (1)

    sub-opposite: leaves appearing to be opposite because they are so close together (1)

    substance: usually used to refer to the thickness of the floral segments. (2)

    substrate: the soil, sand, planting medium, etc., on which a plant grows; also, the substance acted on or changed by an enzyme (1)

    substrate: the material a plant grows in or on. (2)

    succulent: referring to organs of a plant that are fleshy, or to a plant with fleshy organs. (2)

    sucrose: : a crystalline disaccharide carbohydrate C12H22O11, found in many plants (table sugar) (1)

    symbiosis: a relationship of mutual benefit or dependence (1)

    symbiosis: ecological relationship between members of two different species in which both obtain some benefit from the relationship. (2)

    sympodial: habit of growth in which each shoot has limited growth, new shoots usually arising from the base of older ones. (2)

    systemic fungicide: a fungicide absorbed through the roots or leaves and then throughout the plant (1)

    taxonomic: having to do with with classification (1)

    taxonomy: the science of classification of living organisms into various species etc. (3)

    taxonomy: system of classification (1)

    temperate: a climate that has four seasons; the temperature regions are the regions between the tropical regions and the poles (1)

    temperate terrestrials: plants that grow in the ground in areas that experience the four seasons; land plants (1)

    terrestrial: land plants; living on land (1)

    terrestrial: growing in the ground. (2)

    transient: living in a place for only a brief time (1)

    transpiration: the loss of water by plants through the stomata, or openings on the lower surfaces of leaves (1)

    tropical: a climate that is uniformly warm with minimal seasonal variation (1)

    tuber: thickened underground stem, applied to the storage organs of orchids, more properly called tuberoids. (2)

    turface: an artificial growing medium consisting of clay pellets, coming in a wide range of shapes and pellet sizes (1)

    vacuolated: containing vacuoles; small cavities in the cytoplasm of cells, bound by a single membrane and containing water, food, or metabolic waste (1)

    variety: taxonomic rank below species; a species may be divided into varieties (1)

    vegetative: refers to the non-reproductive parts of a plant, such as roots, stems, and leaves (1)

    vegetative primordia: organs or parts in their most rudimentary form or stage of development (1)

    vegetative: parts of a plant not directly involved in flowering: roots, stems and leaves. Form of propagation from same. (2)

    velamen: thick, silvery, protective outer layer that coats the roots of epiphytic and some terrestrial orchids, composed of a layer or layers of dead cells. (2)

    vernalization: chilling plants to induce them to grow (1)

    xerophyte: a plant that has morphological adaptations to enable it to survive aridity. (2)

    A very useful page that includes a list of the world-wide orchid genera, and a glossary of flower terms is

    Linda's Orchid Page

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