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Common, Woody, Piedmont and Coastal Plain Wetland
Plants of the Carolinas
Jon M. Stucky, Department of Botany

North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC


2-ranked: diverging from stem at 2 angles as seen from end of stem

acuminate: long tapering to a point

acute: sharp pointed but not long tapering

adventitious roots: roots that grow out of stems

alternate: a type of leaf arrangement in which one leaf is attached to each node

appressed: held up against; frequently describes bud in relation to stem

axillary: located in the angle between a stem and a petiole, i.e. in the leaf axil

berry: fleshy fruit with relatively thin skin and containing several seeds, usually round or nearly so

bole: trunk of tree

branchlet: small stem tightly surrounded by scale-like leaves of certain gymnosperms such as juniper

bristle: sharp, short, basally unthickened projection from leaf margin

bud scale: leaf modified as small, thickened, exterior, protective layer surrounding thinner interior leaves/flowers of bud; Can not see distinct veins in bud scales.

bundle scar: scar located within the perimeter of a leaf scar, made when bundles of vascular tissue break away from stem as deciduous leaf falls

chambered pith: pith in which a series of longitudinally arranged air chambers are separated by septa throughout length of stem

collateral: “side-by-side” arrangement of several axillary buds at individual node

compound: composed of several parts; a compound leaf is composed of several leaflets

connate: similar structures joined as one body; 2 opposite leaves with bases fused around the stem

cordate: with a sinus and rounded at the base; like the notched/rounded part of a valentine; used to describe type of leaf base or shape of leaf with notched/rounded base

CP: coastal plain physiographic province of NC, includes the sandhills which is frequently recognized as a separate province, see diagram in Radford et. al. for borders between provinces

crenate: with blunt-rounded teeth

cuneate: tapered basally; usually refers to basal part of leaf blade

deltoid: triangular

dentate: with sharp teeth perpendicular to the leaf margin

diaphramed pith: pith in which solid tissues of two distinguishable appearances alternate throughout the stem length

distal: located away from the stem

drupe: a type of fleshy fruit which contains a pit that surrounds a single seed

elliptic: shape, widest at or near the middle and tapered or rounded toward both ends

entire: lacking teeth or lobes

epicormic: coming off trunk of tree, usually describes unusual branches of species including pond pine

falcate: sickle-shaped

foliaceous: leaf-like

glabrous: lacking hairs

glaucous: whitened with waxy coating

homogenous pith: lacking air chambers and septa

imbricate: overlapping; i.e. imbricate buds are covered by overlapping scales

internode: part of a stem between two adjacent nodes

lanceolate: lance-shaped; widest at or near the base and tapered to apex; length/width ratio greater than that for ovate

lateral bud: synonym for axillary bud

lateral veins: veins smaller than and coming off the midrib of a blade or lobe; synonymous with second order vein

leaf scar: mark on stem left by a deciduous leaf after it falls

leaflets: blade segments of a compound leaf

lobed: leaf that has major marginal segments that are larger than teeth; the distinction between shallow lobing and coarse toothing is somewhat subjective

malodorous: smells bad; such as your unwashed feet after a BO 405 fieldtrip

midrib/midvein: centrally located vein of blade or lobe; usually larger than lateral veins

mineral soil: soils containing relatively low % undecomposed plant/animal/microbe tissue; can be hydric or non-hydric; common in all physiographic provinces of NC

mottled: irregularly colored

naked: uncovered; often refers to buds which lack thickened, outer bud scales; Can see veins of leaves of naked bud

node: point on a stem where one or more leaves are attached

oblanceolate: inverted lance-shape, widest above the middle but not as wide in the apical part as in obovate

oblique: asymmetrical

oblong: widest in the middle part and with parallel margins throughout a portion of the length

obovate: inverted egg-shape, widest above the middle & wider in apical part than in oblanceolate

obtuse: rounded or blunt

opposite: leaf arrangement in which 2 leaves are attached to each node; i.e. leaves are paired along length of stem

orbicular: round

organic soils: histosols, soils containing relatively high % of incompletely decomposed plant/animal/microbe tissue: examples include peat and muck; indicator of hydric soil conditions; most common in CP

ovate: egg-shaped; widest below the middle, length/width ratio less than that for lanceolate

ovoid: three-dimensional oval shape

P: piedmond physiographic province of NC, see diagram in Radford et. al. for borders between provinces

palmate: with parts basally attached to a common point, digitate; palmate veins & palmately cmpd. leaves

pedicel: stalk of a flower or fruit

perfoliate: a sessile leaf that has a base which completely surrounds the stem

perimarginal: near to and parallel to leaf margin

petiole: leaf stalk

pinnate: parts attached along an elongated axis; feather-like; pinnate veins & pinnately cmpd. leaves

pith: central tissue of a stem

prickle: sharp, short, rigid projections from internode regions of stem; usually basally thickened, not as flexible as bristle

pubescent: covered with hairs

raceme: type of flower/fruit arrangement; individual flrs./frts. each attached by pedicel to an elongated central axis

rachis: central axis of leafy part of pinnately compound leaf

rhombic: a shape; usually refers to leaves; widest at midpoint with straight margins; elliptic but margins straight and the middle angled

scabrous: rough

serrate: with sharp teeth

sessile: lacking a stalk, directly attached

shrub: type of woody plant which has several main stems at or near ground level

simple: type of leaf with 1 blade (instead of several blade segments, leaflets, as in compound leaf type)

spine: leaf or stipule that is rigid and sharp instead of foliaceous; Since it is a leaf or leaf part (stipule), it is located below a lateral bud or branch stem

spur shoots: short, slowly-growing side branches frequently with short internodes

stalk: narrow, basal part

star-shaped hairs: stellate hairs, hairs with several branches palmately arranged

stipular scar: mark left on stem after deciduous stipule falls

stipule: basal, paired appendages of a leaf; variable in size & shape; Leaves of some species have stipules while those of other species lack stipules

sub-opposite: leaf arrangement in which leaves are almost opposite, i.e. separated by very short internodes

superposed: “one above the other”arrangement of two axillary buds just above a node

tendril: elongated, twining appendage

terete: round in cross-section

terminal bud: bud located at end of stem and not associated with a branch

third-order veins: set of veins that branch off from those veins that are directly attached to the largest veins of the blade

thorn: branch stem that is rigid and sharp; Since it is a branch stem, it would be located above a lea

toothed: a general term indicating either dentate or serrate

tree: woody plant with one main stem (trunk) at or near ground level

trifoliolate: compound leaf composed of three leaflets

undulate: type of leaf margin that is wavy in the vertical plane

valvate: type of bud that is covered by two paired scales which meet at their margins

whorled: arrangement of leaves/flowers/branches in which more than 2 are attached around the perimeter of a stem

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