glossary of terms used on this site


autochthonous -   indigenous, native, aboriginal
batha -   an Israeli term with the same meaning as the French garrigue.
bi-generic hybrid -   a hybrid between plants classified in separate (but closely related) genera. this type of hybrid is rare and difficult to produce, but the resulting plant often shows good vigor and floriferousness (often due to sterility), therefore a desirable garden subject.
bulb (true) -   an shortened underground stem which stores food in overlapping scales (modified leaves) - as in onions, often used to survive an annual period of dormancy; compare with corm.
caliche -   a deposit of calcium carbonate (lime) below the soil surface, common in arid areas of the West and Southwest U.S.
Catalan -   The language of the Catalonia region of north-eastern Spain, but more closely related to the Occitan language of southern France than to Spanish. (compare to Gallego)
chaparral -   Dense vegetation in the coastal and mountainous regions of California, similar to the South African fynbos, the Chilean matorral, the Mediterranean maquis, and the Western Australian kwongan.
chimera -   two or more distinct tissues growing togther in one plant, resulting from a mutation in some but not all layers of the plant's tissue. Usually expressing itself in the form of random or irregular variegation, but also responsible for 'curly' or 'tortulose' branches and other effects. Chimera often tend to revert to regular (or other forms) depending upon where a given shoot might arise. The most stable forms tend to be those with a more regular expression of the chimera (a white edged leaf rather than a random or 'marbled' variegation) because the mutation exists in all of the tissue of a given layer (different layers of tissue are responsible for specific parts of all plants).
chlorosis -   an iron difficiency, typically showing up as a yellowing of the leaf, especially between the leaf veins.
cladodes -   a modified stem which comes to take the place of true leaves - as in some Acacia species (e.g. A. glaucoptera (compare with 'phyllodes').
corm -   A shortened, thickened, underground stem used for food storage and survival during dormancy; compare with bulb.
cyathium -   the defining floral structure of the genus Euphorbia, consisting of a male or female flower, surrounded by bracts, often colorized (cyathea - plural).
dioecious -   Male and female (imperfect) flowers on separate plants (most plants have male and female parts in the same flower and are termed perfect). See monoecious.
espalier -   a tree or shrub trained to grow flat against a wall or support, typically a trellis or wire, either formal or informal.
family -   A group of plants sharing common features and distinctive characteristics and comprising related genera; the taxonomic category above genus and below order.
fynbos -   Dense vegetation in the coastal and mountainous regions of South African, similar to the Californian chaparral, the Chilean matorral, the Mediterranean maquis, and the Western Australian kwongan. The most floristically diverse region in the world, this type of vegetation is made up of a much wider variety of species that the others, but primarily including Ericas, Restios, and Proteas.
Gallego -   A Romance language spoken in north-western Spain, similar to Portuguese, but it evolved directly from Latin. Unlike Catalan or Portuguese, Gallego is easy for Spanish speakers to understand both in its spoken and written form.
garrigue -   a French term similar to maquis, but the hottest and driest, stony or sandy hillsides; the garrigue has been heavily grazed by livestock for thousands of years.
genus -  
(pl. genera)
a group of closely related species; the taxonomic category ranking above species and below family.
imperfect (flower) -   Flowers containing either male and female parts, but not both, within a single structure. See perfect (flower).
kwongan -   An aboriginal word from the Nyungar language of southwestern Australia refering to the open, scrubby vegetation on sandy soil, similar to, though less diverse than, the South African fynbos. It also resembles the vegetation types of other mediterranean regions - California's chaparral, the Chilean matorral, and the Mediterranean maquis.
leaching -   the downward movement of soluable compounds in soils due to significant watering and rainfall - useful in the removal of accumulated salts, undesirable in terms of needed soil nutrients; the amount of leaching is related to the drainage qualities of the soil itself; caliche is formed by the leaching of soil & water borne salts which are blocked at a certain depth by a heavy clay soil.
macchia -   An Italian term meaning the same as the French maquis.
maquis -   Mediterranean Basin vegetation similar to California's chaparral, Chile's matorral, South Africa's fynbos, and the Western Australian kwongan. A dense type of growth typically made up of low evergreen shrubs and oaks. Maquis is a French term that has gained wide international usage. In Italy, they use the term macchia to mean the same, in Spain the term is matorral as in Chile.
matorral -   Chile's 'mirror image' vegetation to California's chaparral, differing in being less dense than the northern hemisphere counterpart or the Mediterranean maquis. Similar to chaparral, it extends from coastal areas to the Andean foothills. Another distinction is the abundance of vines, bulbs, and herbaceous plants. Also compare to the South African fynbos and the Western Australian kwongan. Also the term used in Spain to describe maquis vegitation.
monoecious -   Separate (imperfect) male and female flowers on the same plant (most plants have male and female parts in the same flower and are termed perfect). See dioecious.
monotypic -   A taxonomic division that has only one subdivision. I.E. a genus with a single species or a family containing only one genus.
mulch -   a broad term refering to a material placed on the soil surface, preferably organic in nature, which is useful in providing the following effects: erosion prevention, evaporation reduction and moisture retention, moderation of soil temperature, suppression of weeds, fertilization and tilth improvement via gradual breakdown (see 'sheet composting'), increase of beneficial and balanced microbiotic soil activity. It is also generally more attractive than bare soil and prevents mud splatter.
palmate -   lobed or divided (or ribbed) in a palm-like or hand-like fashion, with parts radiating form a central point - compare to pinnate.
pantropic -   having become naturalized in various tropical climates worldwide, and often obscuring the country of origin.
peduncle -   the stem of a flower cluster, spike, or solitary flower.
pinnate -   feather-formed, as in leaflets of a compound leaf placed on either side of a central rachis - compare to palmate.
perfect (flower) -   A flower containing both male and female parts within the same structure. See imperfect (flower).
petiole -   leaf stalk - between the stem and the leaf surface; sessile leaves do not have petioles
perlite -   an expanded mineral forming white, lightweight, moisture retentive but also porous granules used in soil mixtures (compare to vermiculite).
phrygana -   a Greek term with the same meaning as the French garrigue.
phyllodes -   a modified petiole which comes to take the place of a true leaf - as in many Acacia species, where seedlings at first show pinnately compound true leaves, soon replaced by larger and larger flattened petioles (phyllodes) as the seedling matures (compare with 'cladodes').
pollarding -   a formal pruning technique where the previous season's growth is cut back to a branch stub annually, resulting in swollen fist-like branch ends (compare with 'stooling').
rachis -   axis bearing flowers or leaflets; i.e. the petiole of a fern frond; plural rachides or rachises.
restios -   Rush-like perennials of the Restionaceae, a family of represented in the fynbos of South Africa, as well as Western Autralia, where they take the place of grasses and give a brown-green hue to the landscape. They grow in dense clumps with wiry leaves, with male and female flowers on separate plants (dioecious). This group of interesting plants shows great promise for horticultural use in mediterranean climates.
sessile -   lacking a leaf stalk or petiole - i.e. the leaf is attached or 'sits' directly on the stem.
sheet composting -   a method of soil improvement utilizing a permanent, organic soil mulch several inches thick, which gradually breaks down, adds nutrients to the soil, improves tilth, etc. (see 'mulch').
species -   A population or series of populations whose individuals have the potential to freely breed with one another and that is discontinuous in variation from other populations or series of populations; a fundamental category of taxonomic classification that ranks below genus.
stooling -   a pruning technique where all branches are annually cut to near the ground, producing vigorous strong shoots the following season - useful for production of large leaves or flowers, and for the cultivation of root-hardy (but not top-hardy) plants.
taxonomy -  
(taxonomic)
classification of organisms based on genetic similarities (e.g. family, genus, species).
tilth -   the state of aggregation of a soil, its 'looseness' as in having been tilled.
vermiculite -   heated and puffed mica, forming lightweight, water retentive granules useful in soils mixtures. Eventually breaks down and loses this property.
whorls -   three or more leaves, bracts, branches, flowers, growing from the same point on a stem or trunk, forming a circular or wheel-like arrangement.