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Botanical Glossary


The technical terms of botany are often difficult and obscure, but they represent an indispensable, precise shorthand when describing the physical attributes of plants. Without them, many more words would be needed to ensure a complete and accurate description. The following glossary defines the technical terms used widely in everyday botany, and you may even come across a few in some reference books.



Lanceolate - Widening to a maximum near the base and tapering to a point at the apex.

Lateral - Occurring on or growing from the side. (Compare terminal).

Leaf - A vegetative organ which, when complete, consists of a flat blade, a petiole or stalk, and (usually two) small leafy appendages at the base of the petiole.

Leaflet - A division or part of a compound leaf.

Legume - A one-celled fruit that splits along two sutures or seams. (e.g. pea).

Linear - Long and narrow, with nearly parallel sides.

Lip - One of the parts in a corolla or calyx divided into two unequal parts.

Lobe - A part or division, especially when rounded, of an organ.

Lyrate - Lobed to resemble a lyre, with the terminal lobe largest and the lower lobes smaller.