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Hidden treasure of botanical and plant-related terms

  • Hidden treasure of botanical and plant-related terms
  • Hidden treasure of botanical and plant-related terms
  • Hidden treasure of botanical and plant-related terms

If plant names weren't difficult enough, plant terms are often a real barrier to understanding in gardening. However, get to know them and the opposite is true. Your knowledge grows and things become clearer and simpler.

Take the term pinnate for example. Once you know it, you can use just one word to communicate all the following:

'The arrangement of leaflets on opposite sides of a central axis, so that it looks a little like a "feather". The whole structure is the leaf which has been divided up into leaflets.'

For instance, the Kentia palm, Howea forsteriana, which many people have as a houseplant, has 'pinnate' leaves (see photo).

When writing plant records at GreenPlantSwap we like that! But it's not much good if people do not know the word. So we have recently added a Glossary of plant terms to GreenPlantSwap ... and not just any old plant glossary.

We wanted to build one as comprehensive as we could make it. The result is over 4x larger than any other dictionary of plant terms we could find online. It has over 3,300 botanical and plant-related terms, and 70,000+ words. If our Glossary was a book, it would have a chunky 250+ pages.

Not that you might think so looking at it. With web sites it can be difficult to know how much is there. So, feeling a bit immodest, I thought I would tell you.

As for the ladybird on the camellia bud, she's:

'A winged, brightly coloured beetle insect which is a predator on aphids, and therefore helps the grower.'

So we thought it was a good image to use for the Glossary. And as for for the aphids, here's the general definition:

'aphid (greenfly, blackfly)
These are plant sap-sucking insects which are generally regarded a pest. They may have the common name of greenfly or blackfly and may mass on succulent leaves and apical buds on plants such as roses and honeysuckle. They feed using a stylet which is inserted into the plant tissue, and can exude sticky honeydew (which may be fed on by insects such as ants). They may transfer diseases from plant to plant as they feed. They do have natural predators such as ladybirds.'

And then there's 30 aphid species to browse. It can become compulsive!

NB. You'll find the Glossary of plant terms in our Grower Tips section.

Comments (2)

  1. Grower

    Helene U Taylor

    The Glossary of Plant Terms is a huge credit to you Jeremy and the people who have helped you with it. As the GPS website improve and change and grow, I hope there will be an easier access to the glossary so we all can get into the habit of using it more often. I know you have plans for making the website easier to use and navigate - and the Glossary deserves a prominent position.

    It was interesting to see which aphids you have chosen to write about. There are more than 500 aphid species in Britain. Yep…500! Depressing number, but some attack only one type of plant, others are not so picky. One aphid that is a bit picky but becoming more and more common here in Britain is the milkweed aphid, or Aphis nerii. I wrote a post here on GPS about this extraordinary aphid back in October 2014. This was before I moved house and I no longer have this huge Dregea sinensis these aphids like. But Dregea sinensis is such a beautiful plant so I have bought myself a new one, a tiny baby plant. It will take many years to become the size I used to have. Time will tell if the yellow aphids will find us here in my new house!

    Here is the article from 2014, if you have the stomach to it, there is even a link to a YouTube movie I made of the aphids at the end of the post


  2. Grower

    Jeremy Wright

    Hi Helene - as of tomorrow, there will be a link on every plant and genus record to the Glossary of Plant Terms. We agree, it needed to be easier to find and use.

    Your post on Aphis nerii was a memorable one. The best online resource we've found on aphids is Rothamsted Research:

    They focus, indeed go into great detail providing weekly tracking of original research, on a top 20 most important UK species. The list is fairly similar to ours.

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