Browse through our gardening glossary. From abiotic and angiosperm to zone and zygomorphic, find definitions for both common and technical terms used by gardeners.
A non-living aspect of the environment such as light, water, temperature, or climate. The opposite of abiotic is biotic.
Tiny, thin-walled, dry fruit holding a single seed; e.g. sunflower seed or the tiny seed-like specks on a strawberry.
Tough, dry nut on oak trees. Comprised of a single, large, smooth seed and a scaly, cup-shaped base.
See Radial symmetry.
Male reproductive part of a flower. It accounts for all the stamens on one flower.
Structures that grow in an unusual place; e.g. roots that grow from stems.
- Adventive species
A non-native species considered locally or temporarily established in the wild. An adventive species differs from a naturalized species in that it does not have the reproductive ability to establish itself in an eco-system long-term over a vast area. However a constant renewal of organisms can sustain an adventive population; escapee cultivated plants are an example.
Water and air penetration of a soil. Also used to describe the process of piercing holes in soil or sod to improve air movement.
- Aerial root
Roots that develop above ground; e.g. mangrove tree roots.
- Aggregate fruit
Fruit produced from a single flower with two or more separate ovaries. It may look like a dense cluster of many small fruits; e.g. raspberry, blackberry.
Green, photosynthetic plants without roots or shoots. Found on tree trunks, soil and in fresh or salt water.
- Alpine plant
A plant native to mountains, found at high elevations beyond where most trees naturally grow.
- Alternate leaves
Leaves arranged singly along a stem, placed on one side of the stem and then the other. They are not opposite one another or whorled.
Material added to improve soil quality and structure for improved plant growth. Popular amendments include compost, manure, peat moss, alfalfa pellets and horticultural lime.
One of two groups of plants (the other being gymnosperms) that reproduce via seeds. Angiosperms are flowering plants with a seed coat. Any plant with a flower is an angiosperm including most broadleaved trees; e.g. maple trees, echinacea and tomatoes.
Plant that completes its whole life cycle, dies and produces seeds within one growing year; e.g. tomatoes, bell peppers, impatiens and snapdragons.
- Annual ring
Represents the growth of a tree in a single year, visible in cross section as annual rings. One can determine the age of a tree by counting the annual growth rings .
(plural: antennae) A mobile appendage on the head of an animal (e.g., an insect) that is sensitive to touch, and in some cases, taste.
Sac-like pollen-bearing structure at the top of the stamen (male flower structure).
Small, soft-bodied insect that sucks sap from new, tender plant growth. It can cause damage and transmit plant diseases.
Plant adapted to living partly or fully in salt or fresh water.
Site where trees and other plants are cultivated as a living collection for scientific research, education and public enjoyment.
Specialized seed covering; e.g. the juicy, edible portion of a pomegranate.
Equipped with thorns, prickles or spines.
Upward growth or orientation.
A pattern of stars, but not officially a constellation
A mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, among other gases, that surround the Earth. The atmosphere has four layers that are determined by temperatures troposphere (closest), stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere (farthest).
Lists some of the special qualities certain plants have which may make them more attractive as garden selections.
Please note that the attribute "deer resistant" only indicates those plants which are least likely to be damaged by deer. Selection of food plants by deer can vary greatly between different regions and at various times of year. Plants unappealing to deer at one time may seem more appealing during times of food scarcity.
"Drought tolerant" refers to established plants. Many plants require sufficient moisture to become established but can tolerate drought later in the season.
Upper angle between the stem and petiole (leaf stalk).
Single-celled organism that does not have chlorophyll. Bacteria that cause disease are referred to as pathogens.
(singular: bacterium): single-celled, microscopically small organisms in the Monera kingdom. A bacterial cell differs from the cells of higher organisms in that it is simpler (i.e., lacks most of the internal structures) and has no distinct (i.e., membrane-bound) nucleus. There are thousands of species of bacteria, but they occur in only three different shapes: spherical, rodlike, or curved. Some bacteria cause diseases, while others are necessary to good health (e.g., some intestinal bacteria). They can be found in all ecosystems.
- Balanced fertilizer
A synthetic or natural fertilizer that has equal amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). In this case "balanced" is a technical term; a balanced fertilizer does not necessarily have all the nutrients a plant needs to be healthy.
Protective external covering on trunks and branches of a woody plant. It is composed of dead, corky cells.
- Basal cutting
Propagation technique where a young, newly emerging shoot is cut at ground level from the parent plant.
- Basal leaves
Leaves at the very base of a stem.
Fleshy fruit formed by a single ovary that has one or more seeds; e.g. banana, currant and tomato.
Flowering plant with a two-year life cycle. A biennial normally only flowers in the second year.
The diversity or variation in the number of species found within a given area, habitat or ecosystem. Biodiversity is considered an environmental health index: the more species present in an environment, the higher the biodiversity of that environment, the healthier that environment is - the opposite is true too.
- Biological control
Method of pest control where an organism, rather than pesticides, is used to kill pests; e.g. farmers may release ladybugs to attack aphids.
A mixture of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, among other gases, that surround the Earth. The atmosphere has four layers that are determined by temperatures troposphere (closest), stratosphere, mesosphere and thermosphere (farthest).
A single flower with both male and female organs, also called a perfect flower.
Broad, flat, typically thin and elongated portion of a leaf, petal or sepal.
- Bloom Time
Lists the time of year the plant flowers. Due to the variability of bloom time across the country and in different locations this is given by season instead of by month. There may be some yearly shifts in bloom times due to variations in the weather.
The section of a tree trunk below the crown, before the branches begin.
- Botanical insecticide
Naturally occurring chemicals found in plants that act as insecticides. They can be extracted for use as such. Rotenone is a well-known example.
Modified leaf typically found beneath a flower or flower cluster. It often differs in appearance from other parts of the flower like the petals and sepals.
Part of a tree that grows out and reaches away from the trunk.
Widespread or expansive from side to side.
- Broadleaved tree
Tree with wide, flat leaves. Always a deciduous tree.
Modified stem; undeveloped stem, branch, leaf or flower often with protective scales.
Modified stem; underground stem that stores food in fleshy, scale-like leaves, allowing a plant to overwinter.
Barbed fruit that clings like velcro to an animal's fur or people's clothing for increased seed dispersal.
Collective term for all of the sepals on a flower. They are usually green and found beneath the petals.
Layer of cells responsible for producing new cells, resulting in growth in diameter each year. Cambium is also found in the tips of growing shoots and roots.
the layer formed by the leaves and branches of a forest’s tallest trees.
When one flower head is composed of many florets (tiny flowers) on a flattened stem, surrounded by an involucre (whorl) of bracts. It appears to be one flower. This type of flower head is typical of the aster, daisy and sunflower family.
Dry fruit with two or more carpels (female flower reproductive organ), often with thin walls, produced by a compound ovary. The capsule splits open to release seeds at maturity; e.g. poppies, primroses.
- carbon cycle
This term describes the flow of carbon through the atmosphere, ocean, terrestrial biosphere and lithosphere.
- Carbon dioxide
Gas that is naturally a small part of the earth's atmosphere. It is a human and animal waste product from exhaling. Plants use carbon dioxide with water, sun and minerals from the soil to make food.
- carbon dioxide
A colourless, odourless gas that is naturally present in the atmosphere and produced by the breathing of animals and burning of fossil fuels.
- carbon neutral
An equivalent amount of carbon dioxide is captured (sequestered) through photosynthesis during the production of the biomass resource as is released during its combustion.
A female flower's reproductive organ that produces the ovules and seeds. Each carpel looks like a seed-containing chamber. A flower may have one or several carpels, while each carpel has within it one to several ovules. A single carpel consists of a stigma, style and seed-bearing ovary. A single carpel or a group of fused carpels may also called a pistil.
Fruit where the seed is fused to and surrounded by the pericarp; e.g. rice.
Soil-like earthworm droppings produced by digesting soil, microbes and organic matter. Vermicomposting yields nutrient-rich castings for use as a soil amendment.
Larval stage of a butterfly or a moth; hatched from an egg.
Flower cluster with a scaly-bracted, elongated spike made up of many tiny, unisexual flowers without petals. It can be found on trees like birches, alders and willows.
Lists some areas of concern for the selected plant. These are given where known, however, the absence of any listed caution does not indicate that the plant is necessarily trouble free.
The caution "can be toxic" indicates that part or all of the plant may be toxic to humans or animals if eaten. Again, this is only listed for those plants where this information is known and the absence of this caution does not indicate that any plant is safe for consumption.
The caution "ensure not wild collected" is listed for certain plants which have a history of being wild collected, are considered species at risk in some or all of their native range, or which are difficult and time-consuming to propagate (so more likely to be wild collected for sale). If purchasing these plants please take extra care to ensure that they are nursery propagated and not collected from the wild.
The caution "need both male and female plants" refers to plants which have male and female flowers on different plants so that both are needed for the production of fruit.
Please be careful with plants listed as "aggressive spreader" if your garden is adjacent to any natural areas to prevent their spread to and invasion of these areas. Grow them in contained areas and use root guards and dead-heading to prevent their spread through root or seed.
- chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Organic compounds made up of atoms of carbon, chlorine and fluorine. Gaseous CFCs can deplete the ozone layer when they rise into the stratosphere, get broken down by ultraviolet radiation and then release chlorine atoms that react with ozone molecules.
Green pigment found in the chloroplasts of leaves and stems. It is responsible for capturing light in photosynthesis.
Organelle (tiny organ) found in plant cells. They house chlorophyll.
Loss or destruction of chlorophyll due to a nutritional imbalance or an onset fungal, bacterial or viral infection.
A self-built structure that contains a caterpillar at the life stage where it transforms into a butterfly or moth. No feeding is required during this period. A chrysalis is sometimes called a cocoon.
Lined with cilia which are tiny finger-like or hair-like projections that can appear fringed; e.g. a leaf margin or the margin of a sepal lined with many tiny hairs may be called ciliate.
Leaf base wrapped partly around the stem.
Heavy mineral soil created by the chemical weathering of rock. It does not drain easily but can be amended with organic matter to improve texture for planting.
Weather conditions that regularly occur in a region.
- climate change
Natural and human-induced changes in climate that last from decades to centuries.
Offspring produced having identical genetic structure to a "parent" organism. This differs from sexual reproduction, where genetic material from two parents is combined to create a new organism with new genetic material.
Lists the colour of the flowering part of each plant. For non-flowering plants the colour given is that of the leaves.
- Common Name
Lists the common name or names for each plant. Please note that common names often vary from region to region. An effort was made to include as many of the common names as possible for each plant.
- Composite flower
A type of inflorescence (flower cluster) that appears to be one flower at a glance but is actually many little different types of florets (tiny flowers) upon closer inspection. The many tiny flowers function as a single large flower for reproduction; e.g. sunflowers and daisies.
A product created from the breakdown of organic matter. Composting occurs in the natural world, but it is also a garden practice where kitchen scraps and garden waste are used to create compost for use as a soil amendment.
Composed of two or more parts, for example a compound leaf or compound ovary (which has two or more carpels). Another meaning: substances formed by the chemical union of two or more substances.
- Compound fruit
A unit composed of more than one fruit, classified into two categories: aggregate fruits (e.g. raspberries) and multiple fruits (e.g. figs).
- Compound leaves
Leaf made up of two or more distinct leaf-like structures (called leaflets) joined to a single stem.
Reproductive structure made of modified leaves. It is usually woody when holding the seeds and a bit more fleshy when bearing pollen. It is typically found on coniferous trees like pine, spruce, cedar and fir.
Trees that bear cones. They are usually evergreen, and most conifer trees have needle-like or scale-like leaves.
Refers to cone-bearing trees or a type of forest composed of trees that bear cones.
- Cordate leaves
Heart-shaped leaves with a pointed tip.
- Cork cambium
Thin layer of live cells found on the underside of bark. They generate new bark cells.
Modified stem. Short, enlarged underground stem that stores energy when dormant for an early boost in the next season; e.g. crocus, gladiolus.
Collective term for the petals that are usually conspicuous, coloured and whorled.
Crown-like, funnel- or trumpet-shaped structure on the corolla (petals )of certain flowers; e.g. daffodils.
Branched inflorescence (flower cluster) that is either flat-topped or rounded. The outer flowers at the lowest point on the stem bloom first.
Leaf of a developing plant within the seed that stores food for the plant embryo. They are the first leaves to appear as the plant grows and have a different look from the other leaves, though they eventually fall off.
Trailing, prostrate plant. Also refers to a trailing shoot that can form roots at the nodes.
Pollen from the anther (male part) of a flower on one plant lands on the stigma (female part) of a flower on a different plant.
Upper portion of a tree that includes the branches and leaves.
A cultivated plant variety. These are plants with desirable characteristics selected for propagation.
- Cultural Control
Controlling disease, insect or weed issues by manipulating the growing environment through cultural practices like adjusting the soil pH, soil fertility, irrigation practices, amount of sunlight, etc.
- Cuneate leaves
Wedge-shaped leaf. It is wide and flat at the top and tapers toward the base.
- Cup floret
See disk floret.
Outer, protective, waxy layer of a leaf or stem.
Type of inflorescence (flower cluster) where each main stalk ends in a flower. The first flowers to bloom are toward the top and then younger flowers arise from the stem below.
- dabbling ducks
ducks that frequent shallow marshes, ponds, and rivers and “tip up” to feed: they feed with their bodies above water and their heads below water. They take off vertically when startled.
Trees or shrubs whose leaves fall off in autumn.
Abrupt opening of a plant structure at maturity, such as a seed pod or spore.
- Deltoid leaves
Triangular leaf. It is widest at the base and pointed at the tip.
- Diameter at breast height (DBH)
Measures the size of a tree trunk's diameter at breast height (DBH); standardized at 1.3 metres from the ground.
Diameter at breast height (DBH)
Plant with an embryo containing two cotyledons (seed leaves). Dicot for short.
Plants where the staminate (male) and pistillate (female) flowers are found on separate plants of the same species; also known as unisexual plants; e.g. willow trees.
Any deviation from regular metabolism that affects the normal development and functioning of the plant which may be caused by varying environmental factors or microorganisms.
- Disk floret
Small flower with a tube-shaped corolla (petals) that usually makes up the central part of a composite flower head, as seen in the sunflower family. It is sometimes called a cup floret.
- Dissected leaves
Deeply cut leaf with fairly narrow segments where the dip in the segments nearly touches the vein's midrib.
When physiological activity slows or stops; e.g. a lawn that goes dormant and looks brown during dry spells.
- Double flower
A flower with many extra petals, giving it a full or dense appearance. The double flower is caused by a genetic mutation that rarely occurs in nature; e.g. double-flowered roses and double-flowered carnations.
Leaf margin edged with teeth where a small tooth is set within a larger tooth.
Describes how water travels through the soil.
Fleshy fruit from a single carpel (female reproductive organ) that is usually single seeded. The endocarp (innermost part of the fruit) is a stone; e.g. peach or plum.
any marine invertebrate of the phylum Echinodermata, usually having shiny skin.
- Elliptic leaves
Leaf that is widest at the middle and tapers to a point at the base and tip.
A young plant that is still contained within the seed.
Aquatic plant that grows in water with its lower half submerged while its top portion is above water.
Innermost layer of the pericarp. It makes up part of a fruit.
Leaf with a smooth margin (edge).
Plant that grows on another plant or structure, often for support, but does not harm the other plant. They mainly receive nutrients from air and water from rain; e.g. mosses and lichens.
Plants belonging to the botanical family Ericaceae. They require acidic soil to survive; e.g. blueberries, rhododendrons and heathers.
Any organism with cells that contain organelles and a membrane-bound nucleus; e.g. animals, plants and fungi.
Tree that remains green throughout the year. A few leaves are shed at a time, but new needles develop before the old ones are shed; e.g. pine, spruce, fir and cedar.
Outermost layer of the pericarp. It makes up part of a fruit.
in taxonomy, a major grouping of organisms; below an order and above a genus.
Vascular green plants with large leaves called fronds. Ferns reproduce via spores instead of flowers and seeds.
The availability of nutrients, water and air in the soil for plant growth. A fertile soil usually contains some organic matter, or humus, holds moisture and is crumbly in texture.
Substance added to soil to supply nutrients to growing plants.
- Fibrous root
Branching root system; roots all similar in size.
The long, slender stalk of the stamen.
- Flabellate leaves
Fan-shaped leaves; e.g. ginko tree leaves.
A small flower, often one of many, which make up a larger inflorescence (flower cluster).
Modified shoot, which is usually colourful and showy, containing the reproductive structures of a plant.
Simple, dry fruit developed from a single carpel (female reproductive organ) of a single ovary; e.g. milkweed.
- food mile
The distance food or produce travels from the point of its production to the consumer. It is a method used to determine the environmental impact of food production and transportation.
Accelerating a plant's growth or maturity by artificially adjusting the light and/or temperature, usually to get the plant to bloom sooner.
- fossil fuels
Carbon-based compounds such as coal, oil, refined petroleum products like gasoline and natural gas. These produce carbon dioxide when burned.
Large, divided leaf of a non-flowering plant; e.g. a fern.
Covering of very thin ice formed when a hard surface is below the dew point of the surrounding air and lower than the freezing point of water.
Ripened or mature ovary or pistil of a flowering plant.
- Full shade
An area that generally receives about three hours of sun exposure a day or less. This dense shade is typically found on the north side of a building.
- Full sun
An area that receives about six hours or more of direct sun.
Not a true plant; includes mushrooms, toadstools and microscopic, disease-producing organisms. It is incapable of producing its own food, so a mass of white threads (called hyphae) feed on dead and decaying plants to provide nutrition
Abnormal plant growth such as a bulge on the side of a branch that is caused by parasites, including boring insects, fungi and bacteria.
- game animal
legal designation for wild animals, usually mammals or birds, that may be hunted for sport or food and that are subject to legal regulations.
a major category in the classification of plants, animals, and other organisms, more specific than the family and more general than the species; a group of species that are more closely related to one another than to other species. See “taxonomy.”
Sprouting or emergence of a seed, spore or pollen grain after exposure to particular amounts of moisture, warmth and light .
Bump, or small indentation that secretes liquids such as nectar or oil.
- global warming
A rise in the temperature of the atmosphere caused by an increase in the greenhouse effect.
- greenhouse effect
A rise in the temperature of the atmosphere caused by an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
- greenhouse gases
Vapours, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons that blanket the Earth.
- Ground cover
Low-growing plants that form a dense covering over the soil, protecting it from erosion and preventing weed growth. Ground covers are usually aesthetically pleasing.
Thick, whitish, curved larvae of beetles and other insect species that often feed on lawn roots.
- Guard cell
Special cells found on the surface of leaves and stems. They are found in pairs surrounding a pore and help regulate the exchange of gases.
One of two groups of plants (gymnosperms and angiosperms) that reproduce via seeds. Gymnosperm plants do not have a seed coat. This group includes coniferous plants; e.g. pine trees.
Female reproductive part of a flower. It accounts for all the carpels on one flower.
Growth form or appearance of a plant; e.g. a "weeping" habit means a plant has drooping branches.
Gives a brief description of the natural habitat of each plant.
- Hardening off
Gradual process of moving seedlings (or other plants) outdoors for increasingly longer periods to acclimatize them to the temperature and wind outdoors. This is usually done in spring.
Wood from a dicot, angiosperm tree in temperate and boreal regions. This includes broadleaved trees like oak, ash or beech .
Plant with an ability to endure frost and winter temperatures without the need for additional protection. It is able to come back year after year.
Dead wood at the centre of the tree, which no longer transports sap. It hardens to support the tree, which keeps it strong and upright.
- heat island effect
When heat from a large urban area concentrates in a “dome” shape because of the way pollution and physical structures, such as tall buildings and pavement, have modified the land’s surface.
heat island effect
- Height at Maturity
Gives the approximate height of the plant at full size. Please note that this can vary according to the suitability of the site. Some native plants can reach greater heights in a garden situation than in the wild due to less competition and more available nutrients.
Height at Maturity
Any cultivar that was commonly grown by people in the past (generally before 1951, though there are varying opinions as to when) that are able to produce seeds naturally and that were grown for flavour or aroma rather than for large yields or ease of shipment to meet the commercial growing needs of today.
Plant that does not have woody tissue. These plants are usually soft to the touch; e.g violets, irises.
Substance that kills plants, usually weeds. Some herbicides are selective and are used to kill off unwanted plants only, while others are indiscriminate.
Fruit with a leathery rind that makes up the ovary wall, e.g. oranges.
A stable material in soil made from the breakdown of organic matter to the point that it will not break down any further. Humus improves soil texture, fertility and water-holding capacity.
Plant-breeding term where two similar specimens are crossed, yet differ in at least one characteristic to produce offspring with mixed or new characteristics.
- hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
Compounds that were introduced as alternatives to ozone-depleting substances in industrial, commercial and personal needs, containing hydrogen, fluorine and carbon atoms.
Joining of the calyx (sepals) and corolla (petals) to form a cup-like base on a flower; e.g. some roses.
- ice floe
a drifting sheet of ice.
- Imperfect flower
Flowers with the reproductive parts of one sex only--either staminate (male) or pistillate (female).
- Incised leaves
Leaf margins that appear irregularly and sharply indented. They have a torn appearance. The segments dip less than halfway down to the midrib, unlike dissected leaves.
- Indigenous species
See native species.
Flower cluster. The arrangement of flowers on a stem with many branches to form a flower cluster.
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Approach to controlling insect pests and diseases through an understanding of the life cycles of the pests and the plants. It is meant to be an environmentally friendly approach to pest management, where chemical controls are a last resort.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
- Introduced species
Species that are not originally from a given region; non-native.
- Invasive species
Introduced species that compete for resources and space with the native species of the ecosystem to which they were introduced. They can cause serious harm to an ecosystem by reducing biodiversity.
Whorl or circle of bracts surrounding an inflorescence (flower cluster) such as an umbel or capitulum. They look like and serve the same purpose as the calyx (sepals) on a single flower.
- Irregular flower
Flower with petals that are variable in shape, not uniform; e.g. violets.
Sharp ridge or rib-like structure at the base of two lower fused petals of a flower in the pea family. It appears boat-like; e.g. garden pea flowers.
- keystone species
a species whose removal causes marked changes to a community or ecosystem.
- Lanceolate leaves
Lance-shaped leaf; longer than wide, tapered at both ends with the widest part closest to the base.
- land-based pollution
pollution, including agricultural runoff, untreated sewage, and industrial waste, that results from human activities on land.
A juvenile phase in the life cycle of many animals such as insects and amphibians. Larvae often look very different from the adult organism.
Measure of toxicity. It describes the lethal dose required to kill 50 per cent of a test population of organisms. It is measured in mg/kg of body weight.
- Leaf base
The bottom part of the leaf blade. The end that is attached to the rest of the plant.
- Leaf margin
Edge or perimeter of a leaf.
- Leaf tip
The top portion of the leaf blade.
Leaf-like section on a compound leaf.
Connects leaf blade to main stem of a plant. Also known as the petiole.
Dry fruit from a single ovary. Usually splits along two lines; e.g. pea pods.
Subtly raised pore on bark that allows for gas exchange; e.g. the dark, slot-like lines on light coloured birch bark.
Lichens are composed of a fungus and an algae that live together in a way that benefits both. They grow on rocks, soil, man-made structures and trees.
Indicates the amount of sunlight the plant should ideally receive. Some plants thrive in a range of light situations while others require more specific conditions. Consult their habitat description for a better idea of the kinds of sites they prefer.
- Sun indicates the plant prefers a location which receives direct sun for most of the day or approximately 6 hours or more of direct sun.
- Partial shade can indicate an area with only filtered sunlight most of the day or one which receives direct sun for only 2 to 4 hours of the day.
- Full shade indicates an area which receives less than 2 hours of direct sun each day.
Large tree branch.
- Linear leaves
Long, thin, strip-like leaves.
- Lip petal
Enlarged petal on the lower half of some flowers; e.g. orchids.
Soil type consisting of fine clay, medium silt and coarse sand. It is ideal for planting.
Leaf margin with deep, rounded indentations that are too big to be considered toothed. It has a sinuous appearance.
Middle layer of the pericarp. It makes up part of a fruit.
- methane (CH4)
Methane is created when the decomposition of waste takes place without enough oxygen, for example in landfills, animal waste and incomplete fossil-fuel combustion.
an invertebrate that is visible to the naked eye, such as an insect, snail, or worm.
Organism too small to see with the naked eye. A microscope is required to view it; e.g. bacteria, fungi and protozoa.
Central vein that runs the length of a leaf blade.
- Modified stem
This stem looks and grows differently from a conventional stem but has similar tissues. Often a plant with a modified stem will have a regular stem as well.
Indicates the plant's preferred soil moisture. Some plants can tolerate a range of moisture regimes, but others are more particular.
A plant with an embryo containing one cotyledon (seed leaf). Monocot for short.
Growing only one crop plant over a large area; e.g. corn and wheat fields or lawns. Monocultures are susceptible to insect pests and diseases because they do not have the diversity of a regular ecosystem.
Having both male and female parts on the same plant but found on separate flowers.
growing in, or inhabiting, mountain areas
Small plant without flowers or seeds that reproduces via spore capsules. Moss grows closely together forming a soft mat.
Not a true plant, but rather a microscopic fungus.
Material spread over the soil to shield it from temperature changes, water loss, erosion and weed growth. Examples of organic mulches include wood chips, straw, compost and leaves.
- Multiple fruit
Fruit formed from several clustered flowers, where the ovaries basically fuse together. It is actually many fruits fused together; e.g. pineapples and figs.
Beneficial relationship between fungi and the roots of the plants they grow on. This relationship is important for soil chemistry.
Abbreviation representing the ratio of three major nutrients--nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P)and potassium (K)--which are often indicated on the packaging of commercial fertilizers.
related to birth or being born.
- Native Province
Lists all Canadian provinces and territories for which the plant is considered a native component of the flora. Please note that the listing of a plant as native to a particular province does not necessarily indicate that the plant is native to all areas of that province. To find out if a particular plant is native to your local area please consult regional native plant guides or contact local naturalist groups, horticultural groups or native plant societies. We encourage the use of plants native to your specific area.
In some cases a qualifier has been added to indicate the limitations of a plants range within a province. For example, sAB would indicate the plant is found only in the southern part of Alberta.
- Native species
A species that has lived and evolved in a specific area or habitat for hundreds of years or more and is considered an original, non-disruptive organism of the ecosystem it lives in; may be referred to as an indigenous species.
- Naturalized species
A non-native species that is introduced to a wild area, where it successfully establishes a population. A naturalized species may become invasive if the population grows large enough and has negative effects on the native ecosystem. The term "naturalized" is sometimes used to describe a species that was introduced to an area but that does not disrupt the native ecosystem.
Sugary liquid produced by flowering plants in a small nectar-secreting gland found within a flower.
Needle-like modified leaves of coniferous trees; e.g. pine needles.
Small roundworms that live in the soil as well as many other ecosystems. Some soil-dwelling species are beneficial as they attack lawn-eating grubs.
- nitrous oxide (N2O)
A colourless, non-flammable gas with a sweetish odour, used as an anesthetic and commonly known as laughing gas. Major sources of nitrous oxide include soil cultivation practices, especially the use of commercial and organic fertilizers, as well as fossil fuel combustion.
nitrous oxide (N2O)
Places on a stem where leaves or branches originate.
- Non-native species
A species that is introduced to a new area or habitat outside of its natural range. Most non-native species are introduced through human activity. A non-native species may or may not harm the ecosystem to which it is introduced. It may also be referred to as an alien or exotic species.
- Non-vascular plant
A plant that lacks a complex vascular system. Unlike vascular plants, they do not contain the tissues xylem and phloem, which circulate water and nutrients; e.g. mosses, algae and liverworts.
An organelle responsible for controlling all of a eukaryotic cell's activities. It also contains most of the cell's genetic material or DNA.
Fruit consisting of a hard or toughened shell with a seed that opens in a specific way once it has reached maturity; e.g. hazelnut.
- Obcordate leaf
Heart-shaped leaf with a pointed base.
- Oblanceolate leaf
Lance-shaped leaf that is longer than wide. It tapers at both ends, with the widest portion closest to the tip.
- Oblong leaf
Rectangular-shaped leaf with rounded corners.
- Obovate leaf
Leaf that is widest at the top and tapers toward the base.
a large expanse of sea. The oceans surrounding Canada are the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic.
- ocean conveyor belt
A complex heat and salt exchange system in the planet's interconnected surface and deepwater oceans.
ocean conveyor belt
- Opposite leaves
Leaves that grow in pairs from the same point on either side of the stem.
Specific part of a cell that performs a specialized function. An organ is to a body what an organelle is to a cell.
A natural, earth-friendly gardening style where synthetic substances are not used. When produce is yielded from this type of gardening, it is said to be organic. In the field of chemistry, any compound with carbon atoms is considered organic.
- Organic fertilizer
Fertilizer derived from a plant or animal--something that was once living.
- Organic matter
Material from a source that was once alive.
Swollen base of the pistil which develops into a fruit.
- Ovate leaf
Egg-shaped leaf that is wider at the base, with a rounded tip.
Seed before fertilization. The immature ovule is found in the ovary and contains the egg.
- pack ice
a floating mass of ice that forms in the Earth’s polar oceans; the mass expands to cover a greater area in winter and contracts in summer. The pack ice of the Northern Hemisphere covers an average area of more than 10 million km2.
- Palmately compound
More than three leaflets are directly on the petiole. The leaflets fan out similar to fingers on a hand.
- Palmately lobed
Leaves with three or more divisions or lobes radiating from a common point.
Branched groups of flowers, where each branch is a raceme.
Modified calyx (sepal). It is a bristle or scale on seed-like fruits of the sunflower/aster/daisy family.
Organism that acquires its nutritional needs by taking them from another organism.
- Part shade
An area that receives about three to six hours of sunlight each day.
- Peat moss
Sold as a soil amendment, it is partly decomposed plants found in peat bogs that are harvested and dried.
Stalk or stem of a single flower within an inflorescence (flower cluster).
Fruit where a hard rind makes up the ovary wall; e.g. watermelon.
Plant with a life span greater than two years.
- Perfect flower
Single flower with both male and female reproductive parts. Also known as a bisexual flower.
Leaf base that wraps entirely around the stem. It appears as though the stem punctures through the leaf.
Collective term for petals and sepals.
Fruit wall arising from the ovary wall. It is composed of three layers known as the exocarp, mesocarp and endocarp. In berries and drupes the pericarp is the edible part of the fruit.
Substance used to regulate, eliminate or repel an unwanted organism.
This colourful flower part collectively makes up the corolla. Petals are often broad, somewhat flattened and brightly coloured.
Stalk of a leaf. It links the leaf to the stem.
- pH (Power of hydrogen)
Measure of acidity or alkalinity of a substance. The pH scale is from 1 to 14, where 1 to 6 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and 8 to 14 is basic or alkaline.
pH (Power of hydrogen)
Tissue that circulates food and nutrients produced by the leaves to the rest of a plant.
Process by which a plant makes food for itself. The chlorophyll in leaves uses light to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars and oxygen.
- Pinching back
Cutting back a small portion of a branch or stem to encourage bushier, fuller growth on a plant.
The individual leaf-like structures on a leaflet.
- Pinnately compound
Type of leaflet where the pinna (individual leaf-like structures on a leaflet) are lined up in two rows along both sides of a common, central stalk. It has a similar appearance to a feather.
- Pinnately lobed
Leaves with lobes extending from both sides of the midrib; e.g. oak leaf.
Female part of a flower. A collective term for the stigma, style, ovary and ovules. Also called a carpel.
- Pistillate flower
Female flower that bears the female reproductive structures.
- Plant Type
Identifies each plant according to various accepted groupings such as shrub, perennial or grass.
Dry fruit that opens along two edges at maturity; e.g. pea pod.
Tiny grains formed in the anthers that produce the male reproductive cells. Pollen typically looks yellow and powdery.
- Pollen sac
Top portion of the stamen, which contains the pollen grains. Also known as the anther.
Transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma. This is one of the first steps in fertilization.
Animals that transport pollen--mainly insects, but also bats, birds and even some mammals.
Has many seeds and carpels. The outer half of the pericarp is fleshy, whereas the inner part is paper-like; e.g. apple.
Short, woody, sharp structures found on stems, leaves and even fruits. Prickles are shorter than thorns.
Any organism with DNA not contained by a membrane within the cells. Prokaryotes lack a cell nucleus unlike a eukaryote; e.g. bacteria.
Reproduction of plants via seeds or spores (sexual propagation) or cells, tissues or organs (asexual reproduction). This term is often used when reproduction is intentional or human-guided.
Plant that grows flat along the ground.
Life stage of a holometabolous insect (an insect that undergoes a complete metamorphosis: embryo, larvae, pupa, adult). During the pupa stage, the larval bodies break down and take on the adult body shape.
the underfur of the muskox, used as wool.
a subspecies of an animal species or a variety of a plant species; sometimes used more loosely to refer to either a genus, species, breed, or variety.
Long central stalk with a cluster of flowers along the top portion. Each individual flower has a stalk of its own, attached to the larger, shared central stalk.
- Radial symmetry
Implies symmetry (proportion) along multiple axes from a middle point for flowers or any other organism with a wheel-like arrangement; e.g daisy.
- Ray floret
A small flower with a strap-shaped corolla. They are usually found along the edge of the head of a composite flower. A ray floret is sometimes called a strap floret.
Enlarged area at the end of the pedicel where flower parts are joined.
- Reniform leaves
Modified stem. It is a horizontal, underground stem.
Grows in a downward direction into the ground. Roots uptake water and nutrients.
Modified stem. Ring-shaped group of leaves that radiate from a central point at or near bottom of a stem; e.g. dandelion leaves.
- Round toothed
Leaf margin with teeth that are rounded rather than pointed.
Stem that grows horizontally along the soil's surface.
- salt marsh
marsh forms affected by the daily or seasonal influence of brackish to saline waters, generally in coastal or dry prairie conditions.
Fruit that somewhat resembles a wing; e.g. fruit from a maple tree.
- Sandy soil
Soil type that is well drained and nutrient poor. It has more than 70 per cent sand particles and less than 15 per cent clay.
Liquid food and water supply that is transported throughout a tree.
Plant without chlorophyll that cannot photosynthesize, which means it cannot make its own food. It derives nutrition from dead organic matter.
Woody rings of a tree responsible for the transport of water and minerals. It is usually distinguishable from heartwood (dead wood) by its lighter colour in the cross section.
Parasitic insect that is generally small, often with a waxy-coated body. It uptakes plant juices through a sucking action.
Appearance like a fish's skin with small thin, overlying flaps.
Fruit with two or more united carpels that spilt apart once mature; e.g. carrots.
- Scientific Name
lists the botanical name (genus and species) for each of the plants listed.
In botany it is a mature ovule. In general terms it is a grain that can be planted that will develop into another plant.
Pollen from the anther of one flower lands on the stigma of the same flower or another flower from the same plant.
Individual unit of the calyx that is usually found beneath the corolla (petals); often green and petal-like or blade-like in appearance.
- Serrate leaves
Sometimes called toothed leaves, they have a margin similar in appearance to the edge of a serrated knife.
Leaf or flower head lacking a stalk.
Woody plant with multiple stems arising from or near the ground. It is shorter in height than a tree.
Method of applying fertilizer, placing it on either side of a plant.
Fruit where the carpels separate at maturity leaving behind dividing walls, e.g. mustard.
Soil type with medium-sized particles, larger than clay but smaller than sand.
- Simple fruit
Fruit developed from one flower's single ovary; e.g. apples, plums, watermelons, oranges, peas.
- Simple leaf
Leaf with a blade that is not divided.
- Single flower
One flower on one stalk; e.g. tulip.
Strips of living grass that can easily be laid down to create a lawn.
Wood from gymnosperm trees. Mainly coniferous trees.
- solar heat
Energy generated by the sun.
Chemical-free method of killing weeds and pathogens. Plastic covering is used across the soil�s surface, and it is left exposed to sunlight for four to six weeks during a hot period.
Spike inflorescence (flower cluster) with tiny flowers on a fleshy stem often enclosed by a colourful leaf-like structure called a spathe; e.g. calla lilies.
A type of bract. It is leaf-like in appearance and may be colourful, which helps attract pollinators to the spadix it encloses.
- Spatulate leaves
Wide, round-tipped leaves that narrow as they curve at the base.
A category of individuals with many shared characteristics. A species is just one category in a classification system used by scientists to group organisms.
Elongated flower cluster, where each flower is sessile (not attached by a stalk).
- Spiral leaves
See whorled leaves.
Tiny reproductive cell of a non-flowering plant; e.g. ferns and fungi can reproduce via spores.
Collective term for the male reproductive part of a flower, which consists of the anther (which contains pollen) and the filament.
- Staminate flower
Male flower that bears the male reproductive structures.
Main portion of a plant, which supports the leaves, branches, flowers and fruit. Whether this stem grows above ground or below ground, it is the part that grows in an upward direction, as opposed to the root system, which grows in a downward direction.
Top of pistil where pollen adheres.
Leaf-like structure found at the leaf base or at the base of the petiole on some plants.
Modified stem. Stem that grows at or under the soil's surface.
Pore-like structures on a leaf's surface surrounded by two guard cells that can open and close to allow for gas exchange. The plural of stoma is stomata.
- Strap floret
See ray floret.
When a plant is subjected to potentially harmful growing conditions; e.g. too much or too little water, inadequate soil fertility or exposure to pests.
Narrow part of the pistil between the stigma (at the top) and the ovary (at the base).
Plant with fleshy leaves or stems that store water; e.g. aloe vera, jade plant.
Adventitious shoot growing from roots or the lower part of a shrub or tree.
sparsely treed belt of subarctic forest in the Northern Hemisphere that blends into the tundra in the north and the boreal forest in the south. In Canada the taiga extends from the coast of Labrador to the Mackenzie Delta.
Main, downward-growing root of a tree. Also a type of thick, carrot-shaped root that grows straight downward; e.g. dandelions.
Pointy or rounded tabs along a leaf margin. Also see toothed.
Working remotely from home or a home office.
Modified leaf, stem or petiole; a thin, coiling structure that helps support climbing plants.
Term for petals and sepals collectively when they are the same in appearance; e.g. tulips and lilies.
Layer of dead and living stems, roots and other debris that accumulate above ground around the base of a lawn of grass.
- thermohaline circulation system
The flow of ocean water caused by changes in the water's density.
thermohaline circulation system
Sharp, needle-like modified stems; e.g. hawthorns.
New grass stem that grows from the crown of a mature grass plant.
Jagged-edged leaf margin, usually pointy but may be rounded.
Method of applying a soil amendment where it is evenly distributed over an entire area.
Top, fertile layer of soil containing organic matter and nutrients.
Controlled release of water vapour through a plant�s stomata.
A large and tall woody plant usually having one supporting stem or trunk. Branching often begins farther up the trunk.
Leaf composed of three leaflets.
Main woody support structure of a tree.
Modified stem. It is a short, enlarged underground stem that stores nutrients.
Small woody projections that stem from branches.
An inflorescence (flower cluster) where many pedicels (stalks) equal in length radiate from one point on a stem.
the dense layer of fur, short hairs, or wool under the long outer coat of an animal.
A wavy, sinuous edge.
a hoofed mammal
Flowers with the reproductive parts of one sex only. They are either staminate or pistillate. Also known as dioecious.
Smooth leaf margin without teeth. See entire.
Describes the appearance of leaves (and sometimes stems) marked with a pattern of more than one colour.
- Vascular plant
Plant that has special vascular tissues, xylem and phloem, for circulation of water, minerals and food (generated through photosynthesis) throughout the plant.
- vascular plants
seed plants, such as flowering trees, shrubs, herbs, and the conifers, as well as other plants, like the ferns and horsetails that reproduce by spores. All of these have specialized conducting cells organized as vascular tissues in their roots, stems, and leaves. They conduct water and inorganic nutrients as well as food made by green cells throughout the plant. These tissues allow vascular plants to grow to considerable size.
Line or vein-like features found throughout a leaf blade.
Composting with worms.
a solid, semi-solid, liquid, or contained gaseous material discarded from industrial, mining, agricultural, commercial, or residential operations.
Three or more plant parts that radiate in an outward circle about the stem.
- Whorled flower
Flower arrangement where three or more flowers are at points along the stem, creating a whorled pattern.
- Whorled leaves
Leaf arrangement where there are three or more leaves, branches or pedicels at a node. Also known as spiral leaves.
- Wildlife Benefit
Gives the possible use of the plant by various forms of wildlife. This information is gathered from a wide variety of sources and, therefore, the appeal to various wildlife will vary among the plants listed.
Area where many trees grow close together. A forested area.
Landscaping and gardening, which, once established, minimizes or eliminates the need for irrigation.
Tissue in a tree that carries water and nutrients up from the roots and disperses them to the branches and leaves.
- yard up
a solid, semi-solid, liquid, or contained gaseous material discarded from industrial, mining, agricultural, commercial, or residential operations.
- zero population growth
the maintenance of population numbers at a fixed level.
zero population growth
Gives the hardiness zone listing for each plant where available. This information is gathered from a variety of different sources and is meant only as a rough guide. Each garden is different and many factors can affect the survival of a plant. Therefore, use this field for reference only and refer to your local supplier for information on the plants hardiness in your area. Or better yet, choose plants native to your local area to be sure of their ability to thrive in the local climate.
See irregular flower.