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Glossary of plant terms

Search our dictionary of 3,300 botanical and plant-related terms – the largest online.
Or browse the descriptions and definitions using the A-Z.

Kabatina shoot blight

Canker develops around base of small branches causing die-back.

kapok

This is a silky coating of the seeds of the silk-cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra) which sometimes is used for stuffing cushions etc.

keel

A sharp edge on an organ resembling the keel of a boat. Also referring to the lower petals of the flowers of the pea family. (Any central ridge.)

keiki

A name given to an offshoot of an orchid which is borne in a node.

Keithia thujina needle blight

Small, black fungal bodies are embedded in foliage, later splitting and spores are released leaving sunken pits or holes in leaves.

kelp

This is a brown seaweed which grows in "kelp forests" inshore below the sea. Its long strap-like fronds may be harvested, burnt or rotted down for use as a fertilizer.

kernal

This is the inner (often edible) part of a nut which is encased in the shell.

kewensis

Means "of Kew Gardens, London" in Latin.

key

Sometimes used to refer to a winged-seed, such as that from sycamores, maples and ashes. The thin papery wings aid the seed dispersal by spinning and blowing in the wind.

kilogram

A measure of weight (kg) equivalent to 1,000 gm (gram) or 2.2 pound or lb.

kilometre

A measure of length (km) equivalent to 1,000 metres or 0.6214 miles.

kingdom

The largest classification group, eg the plant kingdom.

kinin

A type of plant hormone which affects cell division.

kitchen herb

General term for small plants used for eating and spicing food, such as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

kneeing

This is a method of staking plants such as sweet peas, where 2 stakes are used to bend the stem back and forth. This appears to improve flowering due to the restriction of the sap.

knob

Refers to the remnant of last year's fruit stalk on a fruit tree. The knob will produce further fruit buds later on.

knoll

A name given to a hillock or small hill.

knopper galls (acorn gall wasp)

Oak acorns are eaten from inside, shrinking the acorn.

knot

This refers to the thickened part of the trunk where a branch is attached. This part of the wood can be seen in planks cut from the trunk.

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