Term Definition
Abaxial the leaf surface facing away from the stem of the plant [1]
Abscission process by which leaves, stems or fruits are separated from the parent plant [1]
Arborescent growing like a tree Wiktionary
Acute sharp, ending in a point [1]
Accreting build up of sediment or other matter [1]
Actinomorphic a flower that is radially symmetrical [1]
Acuminate a leaf shape that gradually tapers to a long point [1]
Adaxial the leaf surface facing the stem of the plant [1]
Adventitious roots roots arising from the plant above the ground, able to absorb oxygen from the air [1]
Aerial root a root descending from a branch but not penetrating into the soil [1]
Alternate one leaf, or other structure, per node [1]
Angular sharp cornered [1]
Annular in the form of a ring [1]
Anomalous unusual, abnormal [1]
Anther the portion of a stamen which bears the pollen [1]
Anthesis the act of a flower opening; the period of coming to full bloom [1]
Apetalous without petals [1]
Apex tip of leaf, root or shoot [1]
Apices plural of apex [1]
Apiculate Ending as an abrupt tip which is not stiff [1]
Axillary arising from the axil, as in an axillary bud [1]
Axillary bud The axillary bud is an embryonic shoot which lies at the junction of the stem and petiole of a plant Wikipedia
Basal arising from the base of a stem [1]
Bifacial flattened and having upper and lower surfaces of distinctly different structure
Bifurcate forked in two [1]
Bilobed two lobes [1]
Bilocular two compartments in the ovary, anther, or fruit [1]
Bithecate double or paired container [1]
Blade the expanded, flattened part of the leaf [1]
Bract a small modified leaf which subtends a flower or a cluster of flowers [1]
Bracteoles a small bract, often scaly, borne on the pedicel [1]
Bristle relatively stiff, hairs on top of petal lobes, in Bruguiera [1]
Buttress flattened projection or outgrowth from lower trunk which joins lateral roots to stem [1]
Buttress root a stout vertically flattened root growing from near the base of the stem and helping to support the tree [1]
Cable root a slender root which spreads horizontally outwards from the plant just below the soil surface, often giving rise to pneumatophores [1]
Caducous falling off early [1]
Calyx the outer covering of a flower base, often called sepals [1]. The sepals of a flower Wikipedia
Campanulate shaped like a bell [1]
Canopy the uppermost layer of branches and leaves of a single tree or forest [1]
Capitate forming a head, rounded and compact [1]
Capsular shaped like a capsule [1]
Capsule a single, or many seeded fruit with a hard case that dries at maturity and often bursts to release seeds [1]
Carpel a simple pistil or single-celled ovary or seed vessel, or one of the parts of a compound pistil, ovary, or seed vessel [1]
Cartilaginous firm and tough, yet flexible [1]
Catkins a slender, spikelike flower cluster, sometimes drooping [1]
Chartaceaous papery in texture [1]
Ciliate fringed with hairs [1]
Circumscissile splitting or opening along a circumference, with the top coming off as a lid [1]
Clavate club shaped [1]
Columnar column like [1]
Compound leaf leaf divided into 2 or more leaflets on a single leaf stalk [1]
Cuneate wedge shaped at base [1]
Cuneiform shaped like a wedge [1]
Connate the base of two opposite leaves grown together at the node [1]
Cupulate shaped like a cup [1]
Cupuliform like a cup [1]
Coriaceous leathery [1]
Connate like a cone [1]
Corolla the petals, either free or united [1]
Cotyledons the seed-leaves or embryonic leaf [1]
Cotyledonary collar extended tube formed by fusion of cotyledons, remains on plant after seedling drops, in Rhizophoraceae [1]
Crenulated a leaf margin shaped in rounded waves [1]
Crypto-viviparous a germinated seedling attached to the parent plant but covered by the intact fruit wall, called the pericarp [1]
Cylindrical long and tubular [1]
Cymes a flat topped inflorescence in which the centre flower opens first [1]
Deciduous leaves shed at the end of the growing, or dry, season [1]
Decussate growing in pairs, each of which is at right angles to the next pair above or below [1]
Deltoid shaped like a triangle [1]
Obovoid pear shaped [1]
Dehisce the action of a plant naturally releasing its seed as a method of scattering its offspring further abroad [1]
Dentate sharply toothed, with the points sticking straight out from the margin [1]
Dichasia a cyme having two lateral flowers or branches originating from opposite points beneath a terminal flower [1]
Dichotomous key a two branched key that can help you quickly identify plants in the field. Each line in the key has two choices [1]
Dicotyledon (often called dicots) have two cotyledons (first leaves of a seedling). May be trees, shrubs or herbs Wikipedia
Dioecious with male and female flowers on different plants [1]
Dorsal the back [1]
Drupe a soft covered fruit, like a stone fruit [1]
Ellipsoidal elliptic in outline, but solid [1]
Elliptic oval-shaped, longer than wide and widest in the middle, usually with pointed apex and base [1]
Emarginate notched at the tip or apex [1]
Endemic native only to one small area or one country and found nowhere else as a native [1]
Endosperm a tissue containing stored food, surrounding and nourishing the embryo [1]
Entire continous or undivided, continuous simple margin [1]
Ephemeral flowers that last for a short duration, of 1-2 days [1]
Epicalyx a series of bracts subtending and resembling a calyx [1]
Epicarp outermost layer of the pericarp of fruits as the skin [1]
Epigeal referring to plants growing above ground, or the emerging cotyledon during the germination process [1]
Erect vertical or upright [1]
Estuarine of, relating to, or found in an estuary [1]
Evergreen a plant that retains its leaves year-round [1]
Exserted projecting beyond, such as stamens projecting from the corolla [1]
Exude to flow out of, or to bleed slowly, describes the sap of a plant [1]
Facultative optional, not obligatory [1]
Family major unit of taxonomic classification comprising related genera [1]
Fern a vascular plant in the phylum or division Pteridophyta. They lack flowers or seeds, instead reproducing via spores Wikipedia
Filament the stalk of the stamen which supports the anther [1]
Filiform thread like [1]
Fissured bark bark that splits or cracks [1]
Fissure long, narrow, sometimes deep cracks on a surface [1]
Flaky bark barks that falls of in flakes or thin sheets [1]
Flower the organ bearing the reproductive parts of a plant [1]
Foliaceous like a leaf in shape [1]
Friable crumbly [1]
Frond palm leaf [1]
Fungiform shaped like a mushroom [1]
Genus unit in the taxonomic hierarchy, subordinate in rank to the family, but above species level. A group consisting of related species, and with similar other genera comprising a family [1]
Germination the beginning of growth by a seed, or a pollen grain [1]
Glabrate almost glabrous or becoming glabrous with age or maturity [1]
Glabrous smooth, without hairs [1]
Gland group of cells which secrete special chemical substances like nectar or resin [1]
Glaucous covered with a waxy bloom or whitish material that rubs off easily [1]
Globose almost globular or spherical [1]
Glossy smooth and shining [1]
Gnarled twisted, knobby, contorted [1]
Habit the general appearance of a plant [1]
Hairs fine hairs, like those along sides of petal lobes, in Bruguiera and Rhizophora [1]
Halophyte a plant which grows in saline soil, adapted to highly saline habitat [1]
Herb any vascular plant that never produces a woody stem [2].
Hyaline resembling glass, as in translucence or transparency, glassy [1]
Hybrid individual produced as a result of cross between two different species, often infertile and expressing vigorous growth [1]
Hypocotyl the portion of the stem of a seedling below the cotyledons [1]
Hypogeal of, or relating to, seed germination in which the cotyledons remain below the surface of the ground [1]
Imbricate overlapping in regular order, as the scales on a snake [1]
Indented with very irregular edge, as if broken into with teeth [1]
Inflorescence the group or arrangement in which flowers are borne on a plant [2]
Interpetiolar of stipules inserted on the stem between opposite leaves [1]
Intertidal land zone affected by tides, between high and low levels [1]
Intrapetiolar between petioles [1]
Involute rolled inward or toward the upper surface [1]
Jugate joined in, or forming, pairs or a pair [1]
Juvenile immature, not yet adult [1]
Keel projecting ridge on a surface, like the keel of a boat [1]
Knee roots above ground roots shaped like a knee [1]
Laciniate shaped, or formed, like a fringe, as a ligament, slashed into narrow pointed lobes [1]
Lamina the leaf blade [1]
Lanceolate lance-shaped, much longer than wide with broad base tapering to the apex [1]
Leaflet one of the blades of a compound leaf, several leaflets form a leaf on a common petiole [1]
Leathery tough, leather-like structure [1]
Lenticel brown corky spots on the bark, used for gas exchange [1]
Lepidote covered in small scaly leaves [1]
Lobe division of a leaf [1]
Loculus having small compartments [1]
Linear long and very narrow [1]
Mangrove The term 'mangrove' can mean the ecosystem of trees or large shrubs and associated organisms occupying environments at the land/sea interface. It is also used to describe those species of shrubs and trees which are specifically adapted to this habitat
Medial constriction narrow wasted, middle diameter smaller than overall diameter [1]
Medifixed attached in the middle [1]
Mesocarp the middle, usually fleshy layer of a fruit wall [1]
Midrib large central vein of a leaf [1]
Monocotyledon (often called monocots) have one cotyledon (first leaf of a seedling). Usually grass-like plants or palms, usually parrallel leaf venation Wikipedia.
Monoecious male and female flowers separate but on the same plant [1]
Mucronate leaf apex usually broad, terminated by a short stiff point called a mucro [1]
Mucilage slimy, glue [1]
Neap tide a tide of minimum range occurring at the time of quarter and three quarter moon [1]
Nectariferous having nectar [1]
Node point where leaves or branched arise from a stem [1]
bligate able to exist or survive only in a particular environment or by assuming a particular role Wikitionary
Oblong elongated, two or four times longer than broad [1]
Obovate inversely egg-shaped, with the broader end upward [1]
Oblanceolate leaf shape that is broader at the apex gradually narrowing to the base, opposite of lanceolate [1]
Obtuse blunt at the end, forming greater than right angle [1]
Opposite two leaves borne on either side of a branch at a single node [1]
Orbicular a leaf that is nearly circular [1]
Ovary the portion of the flower which contains the ovules, matures to a fruit and bears seeds [1]
Ovate shaped like an egg, broader at the base [1]
Ovoid like an egg [1]
Ovule the immature seed [1]
Palm A flowering plant in the family Arecaceae Wikipedia
Panicle an inflorescence divided into branches, compound [1]
Pan-tropical occurring throughout the tropics [1]
Paraphyses one of the erect sterile filaments often occurring among the reproductive organs of certain fungi, algae, and mosses [1]
Paripinnate having pairs of leaflets opposite each other along a central stem, with a single leaf at the end [1]
Pedicel the stalk of a flower in a cluster [1]
Pedicellate a stalk that supports a fruiting or spore-bearing organ [1]
Peduncle a single inflorescence stalk bearing a cluster of flowers
Peltate a leaf with the stalk usually attached centrally beneath the leaf blade [1]
Pendulous having branches or flower heads that bend downward, drooping or weeping [1]
Pentamerous five parts, or 5 lobed [1]
Perennial a plant that will live for three years or more under normal conditions [1]
Pericarp the wall of the ripe ovary [1]
Persistent remaining attached for a long time [1]
Petiole the leaf stalk [1]
Petiolar of, relating to, or growing on a petiole, a petiolar sheath [1]
Petiolar scales scales on the petiole [1]
Phenology occurrence of flowering and fruiting events [1]
Pilose hairy, usually with long and distinct hairs [1]
Pin dominant pistol with knob like stigma, a counter to 'Thrum' [1]
Pinnae a leaflet on the second division of a bipinnate leaf [1]
Pinnate having leaflets growing in rows on both sides of a petiole, or leaf stem, as in a fern, feather like in appearance [1]
Pistillate a flower that has only female reproductive components [1]
Plank roots vertically flattened, lateral extensions of buttress root [1]
Plumular shaped like a plumule [1]
Plumule the embryonic shoot [1]
Pneumatophore a respiratory root which rises above the soil surface, spongy or corky aerial roots arising from cable roots, variable in shape including peg, conical, pencil, knee, 'breathing roots' [1]
Prop roots aerial roots that form on the stem above ground, also called stilt roots [1]
Propagule seed or seedling capable of producing a new plant, often applied to Rhizophoraceae, e.g. Rhizophora, Bruguiera, Ceriops [1]
Pteridophyte Vascular plant that reproduces via spores Wikipedia
Pubescent softly hairy, covered with short, soft fine hairs [1]
Puberulent covered with fine soft hairs or down; synonym: pubescent [1]
Pulvinate a swelling at the base of the petiole, often facilitating leaf motion [1]
Pustular covered in pustules, raised lumps, often flaking [1]
Raceme an inflorescence having stalked flowers arranged singly along an elongated unbranched axis [1]
Radicle the embryonic root [1]
Recurved bent or curved backwards [1]
Reflexed a sharp bend downward or backward [1]
Reticulate like a net [1]
Revolute rolled downwards or to the lower side [1]
Rhizome an underground, horizontal stem [1]
Ridge angular with lengthwise lines [1]
Rosette a radiating cluster of leaves as in a dandelion [1]
Rugose wrinkled [1]
Scales small dry flakes covering leaf or fruit surface [1]
Scarious scratched surface [1]
Semi-orbicular semi-circular, usually a leaf [1]
Sepal outermost part of a flower, collectively called the calyx [1]
Sericeous silky [1]
Serpentine snake like [1]
Sessile without a stalk [1]
Sheath a tubular covering that surrounds part of a plant [1]
Shrub woody plants usually less than 5 m high that lack a distinct trunk and crown Wikipedia
Sickle-shaped shaped like a sickle, a curved knife [1]
Sinuous curving like a meandering stream [1]
Simple single, undivided piece, applied to leaves [1]
Sinus the base of a gap between lobes [1]
Smooth leaf texture not rough [1]
Spathe a bract or pair of bracts, often large, enclosing the flowers [1]
Spathulate like a small spathe, a flat spoon [1]
Species a naturally occurring population of individuals which are reproductively isolated from similar species [1]
Spicate like ears of corn [1]
Spike elongated, unbranched inflorescence like a raceme, but flowers are sessile [1]
Spine relatively stiff, needle like thread between petal lobes, in Bruguiera [1]
Stalk petiole, peduncle or stem [1]
Sporangia specially developed spore cases found on the underside of fern fronds [1]
Spore the reproductive structures of ferns [1]
Spring tide tides of maximum range occur during both new and full moon [1]
Stamen the male organ of the flower consisting of the pollen-bearing anther and its stalk the filament [1]
Staminate like a stamen [1]
Staminodes a sterile stigma, often modified in shape and size [1]
Stellate star shaped [1]
Sterile infertile, non-reproductive, not able to reproduce [1]
Strigose with pointed, rigid, hair-like scales or bristles [1]
Stigma the portion of the style which receives the pollen [1]
Stilt root a root arising from the stem some distance above the ground and affording support to the plant, often called prop roots [1]
Stipule a leaf-like or scale-like appendage, often in pairs at the base of the leaf petiole [1]
Subtended joined to [1]
Subterminal near terminal shoots or buds [1]
Succession the order in which one vegetation type or ecological community replaces another following some change or disturbance [1]
Stomata openings of the leaf connected to internal air spaces [1]
Stylar beak pointed end of a fruit formed from the spent style [1]
Style an often slender portion of the pistil which arises from the ovary and supports the stigma [1]
Succulent juicy or fleshy, thick [1]
Superior above the part [1]
Suture line where two parts are joined, and often split apart [1]
Taproot central main root evident in deep rooted species [1]
Taxon /taxa a category of classification such as family, genera, species, variety and form [1]
Terete circular in transverse section, cylindric and usually tapering [1]
Terminal borne at the end or apex [1]
Terrestrial (plant) living on the land Wikipedia
Testa hard shell [1]
Tetrahedral angular shaped, often 4 sided [1]
Tetramerous 4-part shape [1]
Thecate like a container [1]
Thicket dense growth of shrubs and small trees [1]
Thrum a threadlike part of a flower, a stamen, a counter to 'Pin' [1]
Tomentose densely woolly, the hairs are soft and matted [1]
Translucent allows light through [1]
Tree higher woody plant, usually with one major trunk [1]
Tri-locular having three compartments [1]
Turbinate shaped like a turbin [1]
Umbelliform shaped like an umbel [1]
Umbel an inflorescence consisting of a number of flower stalks or pedicels, nearly equal in length and spreading from a common centre, like umbrella ribs [1]
Unilocular single compartment [1]
Urceolate shaped like a pitcher or urn [1]
Valvate shaped like a valve [1]
Variety taxonomic unit within the species [1]
Venation patterns in the veins of a leaf blade, typically parallel veined or net-veined [1]
Vestige remnant piece [1]
Vine climbing plant that may twine, scramle, or use hooks or tendrils for support Wikipedia
Viviparous a germinated seedling that has developed while still attached to the parent plant [1]
Zygomorphic a flower that is bilaterally symmetrical [1]
Character Descriptions Character Descriptions for the Key to Mangrove Plant Species Of Australia
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  1. Duke, N. (2011). Mangroves of Australia. Manuscript. Vers.: 27 Sept 2011. (more)
  2. !McCusker, A (compiler). Flora of Australia Glossary, ABRS. Available online: (1999). (more)

-- EmmaClifton - 21 May 2009