ACUMINATE  – tapering to a point.
ACUTE  – sharply pointed but not drawn out.
ADPRESSED  – lying flat for the length of the organ.
ADVENTITIOUS  – applied to roots, those which do not arise from the radicle but from another part of the plant, usually the stem.
AESTIVATION  – the manner in which the parts of the flower are folded before expanding.
AMPLEXICAUL  – stem-clasping.
ANNUAL  – a plant which completes its life cycle within a year.
ANNULUS  – in some Stapelieae, the portion of the corolla which forms a fleshy, raised ring.
ANTHER –  the part of the stamen which contains the pollen.
APICULATE  – tipped with an apiculus, a short, sharp point.
ARISTATE  – awned.
ASPERULOUS  – slightly rough with little points.
ATTENUATE  – tapered.
AWN  – a stiff hairy bristle.
AXIL  – the angle between the axis (stem or branch) and the part arising from it (leaf or bract).
AXILE  – belonging to the axis, as in axile placentation.
AXILLARY  – growing in an axil.

BIENNIAL  – a plant that completes its full life-cycle in two years.
BIFID   – divided into two parts.
BILABIATE  – having two lips.
BISEXUAL – having stamens and pistil in the same flower.
BRACT  – a modified leaf associated with the flowering part of the plant.
BRACTEATE   – possessing bracts.
BRACTEOLE   – a small bract.


CADUCOUS – shed at an early age, ie caducous leaves.
CALYX – the outer series of leaf-like segments of the flower which is usually green in colour, it may be large and colourful, present or absent. It encloses the flower while it is still a bud.
CAMPANULATE – bell-shaped.
CANALICULATE – channeled.
CANDELABRIFORM – with a shape of a tall branched candle-stick.
CAPITATE – applied to an inflorescence in which the flowers form a head.
CAPITULUM – a small head (of flowers).
CAPSULE – a dry, dehiscent fruit.
CARPEL – a simple pistil consisting of ovary, style and stigma, or element of a compound pistil.
CARTILAGINOUS – sinewy, tough (in respect of leaf margins).
CAUDEX – the stem of a plant.
CELL – in the mesems, a chamber of the ovary.
CILIA – hairs along the margin of a leaf or corolla lobe (as in many Orbea species)
CILIATE – fringed with hairs, as on the margin of the corolla lobes in some of the stapelieae.
CLADISTIC – system of classification based on the phylogenetic and evolutionary history of groups of organisms.
CLAVATE – club-shaped, thickened towards the top.
CLEISTOGAMOUS – applied to a flower in which fertilization occurs without the flower opening.
CONIC-CAPITATE – a cone-shaped head of flowers.
CONNIVENT – converging.
CORDATE – heart-shaped.
CORIACEOUS – leathery.
CORONA – in the Stapelieae, a crown-like portion of the staminal column, usually with the inner and outer lobes.
CRENATE – notched or scalloped.
CRISPED – with a curled or twisted edge.
CUNEATE – wedge-shaped.
CYATHIUM – the inflorescence of euphorbia (plural: cyathia).
CYLINDRIC-ACUMINATE – elongated and tapering to a point.
CYME – an inflorescence in which the lateral axis grows more strongly than the main axis.



DEHISCE – to split open when ripe, as in a capsule
DECUMBENT – laying or growing on the ground but the tips are erect or growing upright.
DECIDUOUS – falling off or shed at a specific season or stage of growth.
DISCUS – an enlarged area bearing numerous tiny flowers, ie the flower head of a composite plant like a daisy.
DISK – an enlarged area bearing numerous tiny flowers, ie the flower head of a composite plant like a daisy.
DISTICHOUS – two rows of upright leaves, common in Gasteria seedlings.


ELLIPTIC – having a shape of a flattened circle .
ENTIRE – without toothing, a smooth margin .
ETIOLATION – thinning of a plant due to lack of light.
EXSERTED – protruded beyond.
EXTRA-FLORAL – outside the flower


FALCATE – sickle-shaped.
FASCICLE – a cluster or bundle of flowers.
FILAMENT – the stalk of an anther.
FILIFORM – thread-shaped.
FREE CENTRAL – the attachment of the ovules to an outgrowth arising from the base of the ovary.
FUSIFORM – thick, but tapering at both ends.


GEOPHYTE – a plant that stores food underground and has subterranean buds which form arial growth.
GLABROUS – smooth without any pubescence.
GLAUCOUS – sea-green or covered in bloom.
GLOBOSE – nearly spherical.


HABIT – general appearance of the plant.
HALOPHYTE – a plant that grows in salty soil.
HELIOTROPIC – growing towards sunlight.
HETEROPHYLLOUS – having leaves of different form.
HIRSUTE – hairy, with long distinct hairs.
HISPID – with rough hairs or bristles.
HYDATHODE – water-secreting pore on leaf ( Craussulacae have them for the rapid absorption of water).
HYGROCHASTIC – applied to plants in which the opening of the fruits is caused by the absorption of water (98 percent of mesems have hygrochastic capsules).


KEEL – a longitudinal ridge, at the back of the leaf.
KEELED-MARGINATE – the leaf-keel veers over to form a leaf-margin ( Aloineae).


LACERATE – torn.
LACINIATE – cut into narrow lobes.
LAMINA – the blade of the leaf.
LANCEOLATE – lance-shaped, tapering from a broad base to the apex.
LAX – loose or limp, not densely arranged.
LECTOTYPE – a specimen chosen after the original description to be the type.
LIGULATE – star shaped.
LIGNOTUBER – woody tuber – tuberous rootstock.
LINEAR – narrow with nearly parallel sides.
LOCULUS – cavity or chamber of an ovary.



MACULATE – spotted.
MARCESCENT – withering without falling off.
MERICARP – the partial fruit of a schizocarp.
MIMICRY – protective resemblance to the surroundings, i.e. lithops amongst quartz patches.
MONOCARPIC – only flowering and fruiting once.
MONOCHASIAL –  a cyme in which the branching is continued by a single lateral branch.
MONOTYPIC – a genus consisting of one species.


NAVICULATE – boat-shaped.
NECROTIC – applied to dead tissue.
NODE – the part of the stem that gives rise to the leaf and bud.
NOMEN NUDUM – the name of a taxon which has never been validated by a description.


OB- – prefix indicates inversion.
OBTUSE – with a blunt or rounded tip.
ORBICULAR – flat with a circular outline, disc-like.
OVARY – the part of the pistil which contains the ovules (immature fruit).
OVATE – egg-shaped, usually with reference to two dimensions.
OVOID – egg-shaped, usually with reference to three dimensions.
OVULE – the young seed in the ovary.


PALMATE – flat and lobed.
PANICLE – a compound inflorescence in which the main axis bears lateral racemes or spikes.
PAPILLA – a small soft superficial gland or protuberance.
PAPILLATE – having papillae.
PAPILLOSE – covered with papillae.
PARENCHYMA – undifferentiated plant tissue composed of more or less uniform cells.
PARIETAL – used of the attachment of ovules to the outer walls of the ovaries.
PEDICEL – the stalk of the flower.
PEDUNCLE – the axis from which the flower pedicel arises.
PELLUCID – Admitting the passage of light; transparent or translucent
PELTATE – with the petiole attached to the lower surface of the leaf blade.
PENDENT – hanging down.
PERENNIAL – a plant that continues its life cycle for more than two years.
PERIANTH – the two outer whorls of the Angiosperm flower; commonly used when the calyx and the corolla are not readily distinguishable (as in monocotyledons).
PERSISTENT – remaining attached to the plant, opposed to deciduous.
PETIOLE – the stalks of the leaf.
PHYLLOPODIA – persistent leaf bases present in some members of the crassulacae.
PINNATIFID – a pinnately parted leaf, dividing almost to the midrib.
PLACENTA – the organ which bears the ovules in the ovary.
PLACENTATION – refers to the arrangement of the placentae and ovules in the ovary.
POLLINIA – the paired, waxy pollen masses of the stapeliae.
PROCUMBENT – trailing on the ground without rooting.
PROSTATE – flat on the ground.
PRUINOSE – having a waxy, powdery ‘bloom’.
PUBERULOUS – covered with a minute down.
PUBESCENT – covered with short soft hairs.

RACEME – an inflorescence with a single axis bearing pedicellate flowers.
REFLEXED – abruptly bent backwards.
REPAND – with slightly undulate margin.
REPLICATE – folded back, as in the corolla lobes of duvalia.
RETICULATE – having the appearance of a network.
RETUSED – with blunted apex, as in the leaves of some haworthias.
REVOLUTE – rolled back at the margin.
RHIZOME – a prostrate or underground stem which generally grows horizontally.
ROSETTE – used to describe a cluster of densely spiralled leaves.
ROSULATE – having a rosette.
RUGOSE – covered with wrinkles.

SCABROUS  – rough to the touch.
SCHIZOCARP – a fruit which splits into multiple parts called mericarps.
SCORPOID – applied to a cymose inflorescence in which the main axis appears to coil.
SECUND – with the flowers all turned in the same direction, i.e. aloe ortholopha .
SEGMENTED –  constricted into divisions as in many euphorbias .
SEPAL  a part of the calyx that is usually green
SERRATED  with teeth on the margin.
SERRULATE  – with minute teeth on the margin.
SESSILE  – without a stalk.
SETACEOUS  – bristle-like.
SETATE  – with bristles.
SIMPLE  – unbranched.
SINUATE  – deeply wave (margin), tortuous.
SINUOUS  – undulating form.
SINUS  – an opening or groove, as between the bases of two petals.
SQUAMA  – structure resembling a fish scale.
SQUAMAE  – Pl. of squama.
SQUAMOSE  – covered in scales.
SQUAMOUS  – covered in scales.
SPATHULATE –  also written spatulate, shaped like a spatula with the distal end broad.
STAMEN  – the pollen-bearing male element of the flower.
STAMINODE  – a sterile or abortive stamen.
STIGMA  – the part of the stigma receptive to pollen.
STIPULE  – refers to the small appendages at the base of the leaf.
STOMA  – an aperture in the epidermis, plural stomata.
STOLON  – a runner or any basal branch which roots.
STYLE  – the part of the pistil between the stigma and ovary.
SUBCAPITATE –  applied to an inflorescence in which the flowers form a head.
SYNAPOMORPHY  – unique derived character.




TAXON – the taxonomic group of plants of any rank.
TERETE – circular in transverse section.
TERNATE – in threes.
TESSELLATE – formed of small squares.
TRANSPIRATION – evaporation of water from the plant through leaf and stem pores.
TRICHOME – a hair-like outgrowth of the epidermis.
TRIFID – cleft into three pieces.
TRIGONOUS – three-angled.
TRIPARTITE – consisting of three parts.
TRUNCATE – cut off as though shortened.
TUBERCLE – a knob-like projection on the stem or leaf.


UMBEL – an inflorescence of pedicellate flowers of almost equal length arising from the apex of the peduncle.
UNISEXUAL – applied tom a flower having only stamens or pistil, as opposed to bisexual.
URCEOLATE – shaped like a jug or pitcher.

VALVE – one of the portions into which a capsule separates when ripe.
VERRUCOSE – warty.
VIBRATILE – capable of motion to and for.
VILLOSE – covered with long, fine, soft hairs.
VISCID – sticky.
VYGIE – Afrikaans (local South African dialect) for a “small fig”; the common name for mesems; originally applied to the genus carpobrotus which produces small edible “figs”.

WHORL – a circle of leaves, sepals, stames or other organs around an axis.

XEROMORPHIC – having special devices which protect the plant from desiccation.
XEROPHYTE – a plant which survives on a small amount of water in a dry habitat.