Plant Identification Terms

Plant terminology may seem to be a totally new language. However, the more you see and use plant terms, the easier it is to understand what they mean, notes the University of California, Santa Cruz. One way to learn the meaning of various plant terms is by studying a dictionary containing botanical terms or by using an online reference such as

Lifespan Terms

Annuals complete their growing cycle within a single growing season, which is from the last spring frost until the first fall frost. Some common annuals include plants such as cosmos, marigolds and zinnias. Biennials are plants that take 2 years to finish their life cycles. Most biennials produce a rosette, a pattern resembling a rose, in their the first growing season. They bloom, go to seed and then die the following growing season, notes California State University. Sweet Williams and foxgloves are examples of common biennials. Perennials live for three or more growing seasons. They include flowers, shrubs, trees and vegetables. Some of the most common perennials are rhubarbs, bearded irises and chrysanthemums.

Life Forms

Trees are woody plants tall enough for walking under them, according to Pima Community College. Shrubs are smaller woody plants. Succulent pertains to a plant able to store water in its leaf tissue, stems and roots. Cacti are common succulents. Herbs are nonwoody plants.

Leaf Parts

The blade of a leaf is its flat and expanded part. The term "petiole" refers to leaf stalks. An auxiliary bud is the bed located in the angle that’s between a leaf and stem. Stipules refers to a pair of appendages found at the base of a petiole where it’s joined to stems, according to The University of California, Santa Cruz. Sessile is a word that refers to when a leaf is directly attached to a stem, lacking a petiole.

Root Terms

The term "fibrous roots" means all roots are roughly equal in size without a distinct dominant root. A taproot is a root that is obviously dominant over the other roots. Tuberous roots are fleshy taproots. Adventitious roots are roots that arise from a point, other than from the shoot or the main root system, according to the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Grafting is a plant term that refers to the process of joining two plants together. In grafting the upper part of a graft, known as a "scion," becomes a plant’s top, while the lower part, called the "understock," is part of the trunk, becoming the plant’s root system. Grafting generally involves the joining of just two plants, although it can also entail a mixture of several plants. When a third plant is added between two other plants, it becomes the trunk of the new plant, according to the University of Missouri. A common example of grafting is a Rose-of-Sharon shrub that has many different colors of flowers.

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About this Author

Venice Kichura has written on a variety of topics for various websites, such as Suite 101 and Associated Content since 2005. She's written articles published in print publications and stories for books such as "God Allows U-Turns." She's a graduate of the University of Texas and has worked in both Florida and Connecticut schools.