Orchid Species Glossary

Abaxial: a surface that is turned to face the base instead of towards the apex

Aberrant: differing from the normal form or atypical

Abortive: [in reproductive organs] not completely formed and therefore barren or sterile [in seeds] failed to develop normally

Abbreviated: Shortened

Abscission layer: the juncture between the leaf and stem where there is a weak spot from which the leaf will fall.

Acaulescent: refers to the absence or seeming absence of a stem by being very short or underground

Acicular: Needle-shaped - ususally round in crossection]

Acinaciform: scimitar shaped

Acinose: resembling a bunch of grapes

Acrotonic: With a stem arising from 1/3 up on the side of the older stem

Actinomorphic: characterized by radial symmetry, such as a starfish or the flower of a daisy

Aculeiform: resembling a pickle

Acuminate: [with leaves and bracts]with the tip, or occassionaly the base tapering gradually to a point, usually with somewhat concave sides

Acute: apical angle that is greater than 45' and less than 90'

Adherant: different parts touching but not joined

Adnate: attached along the entire length of two different flower parts ie. the petal to a column.

Adpressed: lying against

Adventitous: having roots arising all along the stem, instead of just basally

Affinis: the same or similar ambiguous

Afoliate: leafless

Ageotropic: growing up against gravity, ie roots of Catasetum, Ansella and Grammatophylum

Aggregate: clustered together, close set

Agglomerate: crowded together in a head

Agglutinate: glued together -such as pollen masses in orchids

Aerial: free hanging and exposed to the air.

Alate: having a wing

Alliance: a group of related genera - the Pleurothallis alliance - refers to those in the subtribe Pleurothallidinae - The Cattleya alliance - refers to those that can breed with it but are in the subtribe Laeliinae

Alternate: arranged in 2 ranks not parallel but alternating

Amplexicaul: enlarged and embracing or clasping the stem

Ampulla: a bladder shaped organ

Ampullaceous: bladder-shaped

Ancipitous: with 2 sharp edges

Andean: from the Andes mountains of western South America

Angraecoid: an orchid related to Angraecum by being in the genus or a similar one

Annular: ring forming or in rings

Annulate: ring shaped

Annulus: a node near the apex of the ramicaul and is the origination of the spathe or sheath that gives rise to the inflorescence

Anterior: the front side

Anther: the part of the stamen that holds the pollina.

Anther cap: the cover of the pollina on the exterior of the anther that detaches with the pollina when a pollinator comes by.

Anthesis: The period of time that it takes for the flower to fully open

Apetalous: without petals

Apex: the tip: plural: Apices

Aphyllous: lacking leaves

Apical: at or pertaining to the tip of any part of a plant - see photo link

Apiculate: having an acute tip

Apicule: short, sharp point or acute tip

Applanate: flattened

Appressed: set closely against

Approximate: very closely set, but not co-joined

Arcuate: arched

Aristate: having a long, narrow projection with bristles

Articulate: Jointed

Aromatic: scented or fragrant

Articulate: jointed

Ascending: growing upward

Asexual: without sex charicteristics, sexless

Asperous: rough

Asperulous: very rough surface - having short hard projections or points

Asymmetrical: irregular in outline or shape, in a flower that is incapable of being bisected into two equal halves in any direction

Attenuate: tapering finely ond concavely to a long drawn out point

Auricle: a lobe shaped like an ear at the base of a lamina

Auriculate: furnished with auricles

Autogamous: self-fertilizing

Awn: a group of bristle-like appendages

Axil: the angle formed by the stem and a leaf or bract

Axillary: arising from the axil of a leaf, or bract - see photo link

Axis: The central stem or column from which the organs originate


Bacciform: berry-shaped

Bacilliform: rod or club-shaped

Backbulb: an old pseudobulb sometimes leafless

Backcross: a cross between a hybrid and one of it's parent plants

Baculiform: rod-like

Barb: a hooked semi-rigid hair

Barbate: bearded

Barbed: bristles and hairs that are hooked backwards or downwards

Barbellae: short, stiff hairs found on the lip

Basal from the base of an organ - see photo link

Beak: a, long pointed, horn like projection, often hollow beneath

Biauriculate: furnished with two auricles or ears

Bibracteolate: furnished with two bracteoles or minor bract

Bicalcarate: two-spurred

Bicallose: with two callosities or 2 hard or leathery thickenings on an organ

Bicarinate: two keeled

Bicornute: two horned

Bicrenate: scalloped with rounded teeth that have rounded teeth themselves

Bicuspidate: Having two prongs

Bidentate: Having two teeth

Bifid: Being divided into two distinct parts with a deep cleft

Bifoliate: having two leaves

Bifurcate: branching into, or twice forkred

Bilateral: having two vertical planes

Bilobate: having two earlike structures or lobes

Bilobed: having two lobes or earlike projections

Bipartite: divided into two parts

Biserial: arranged in two rows

Biserratew: with a row of double saw teeth

Bisexual: a flower that has both a stamen and a pistil

Bivalvate: having two valves

Blade: the expanded part of a leaf excluding the petiole, leaf sheath and the claw of the perianth segment

Blunt: rounded, as in a leaf or bud tip

Botuliform: sausage-shaped

Bract: a modfied leaf on a flowering stem usually just below the flower or along the inflorescence

Bracteate: having bracts

Bracteole: a small bract below a flower

Bulbous: a stem swollen at the base

Bullate: having a raised surface between veins

Bursicle: a pouch-like recepticle


Cactiform: succulent stems resembling cacti

Caducous: soon falling, as in leaves

Caespitose: tufted, occuring in tiny thick clumps, matted; used as a growth habit description

Calcarate: Having a spur

Calcareous: Containing an excess of available calcium

Calceiform: shoe shaped or shoe like

Calceolate: in the shape of a slipper

Calcicole: plant that favors calcareous soils

Calciform: shaped like a shoe or slipper

Callose: bearing callosities or having a hard thickened surface

Callosity: a hard bump

Callus, plural Callis: a swelled area especially of the labellum

Calyptrate: Having a cap-shaped hood

Calyx: all the sepals combined [separate or united] forming the outer covering of the floral envelope

Campanulate: bell shaped

Canaliculate: with a longitudinal groove

Canescent: densely covered by short gray-white hairs

Capillary: hair like

Capitate Arranged in heads or; ending in a knob or orbicular tip

Capitulum: a dense cluster of flowers at the head of an inflorescence as in reed stem epidendrum

Capsule: a seed pod which formed from a flower that was fertilized on an inflorescence of most orchids

Carina: a keel, midvein of a leaf, petal or sepal

Carinate: having a keel

Carnose: fleshy

Cartilaginous: hard and tough in texture yet pliable

Caruncle: a small lumpy outgrowth

Cassideous: helmut-shaped

Castaneous: chestnut or deep reddish brown colored

Cauda: a tail like growth

Caudate: adjective of Cauda as in a caudate pseudobulb or sepal

Caudicle: a star like object that is attached to the pollina of orchids

Caulescent: having a leafy stem

Cauline: attached to or arising from the stem

Cavate: hollowed out

Cernuous: nodding or nutant flowers

Channeled: grooved longitudinally

Chartaceous: thin and papery as in a bract or sheath

Chelate: lobster claw like

Chlorotic: yellowing due to a brakdown of Chlorophyl

Chrysanthus: golden-flowered

Chrysocrepis: Golden shoed

Chrysotis: Golden-eared

Cilia: fine hairs

Ciliate: fine hairs around the edges of organs

Ciliolate: having a marginal fringe of fine hairs

Cinereous: ashy grey

Circinate: coiled into a spiral

Cirrhous: an apex that terminates in a coiled or spiralling continuation of the midrib

Cirrhus: Latin for fringe or tendril

Clambering: vine climbing without support of tendrils or twining stems ie. Vanilla

Clasping: partially or entirely enveloping the base of an organ; such as a leaf clasping the stem

Clavate: club-shaped

Clavellate: a diminutive club shape

Claviform: club-shaped

Claw: the stalk like base of the petal, sepal or labellum

Cliestogamous: self-fertilizing

Clinandrium: the depression where the pollina sets at the head of the column

Clone: exact genetic duplicate created from an original donor through a process known as meristeming where a piece of the meristematic growth eye of a new pseudobulb is taken and through a process, a group of clones is created.

Clypeate: sheild-shaped

Coarctate: crowded together

Cochlear, Cochleariform: spoon-shaped

Cochleate: coiled like a snail's shell

Coherent: similar parts that are somewhat joined but not fused

Column: the hub of an orchid that holds the flowers sexual organs, the stamen and the pistil

Column Foot: a basal platform between the column and the lip

Compicate: folded over onto itself

Complanate: flattened or compressed

Compressed: flattened laterally

Concatenate: linked in a chain

Concolor: all one color

Conduplicate: folded face to face

Conferted: crowded

Confluent: merging together

Congested: crowded

Conglomerate: tightly congested - often ball-like

Congregate: gathered into close proximity

Conical: cone shaped

Connate: groups of similar parts united at their bases

Connivent: merging but not fused

Conspecific: of the same species

Conspicuous: easily visible - enlarged or showy, prominent

Constipate: crowded or massed together

Constricted: abruptly narrowed or contracted

Contiguous: touching parts that are not fused

Contorted: twisted or bent

Contracted: narrowed or shortened

Convergent: coming into contact yet not fused

Convex: a rounded surface

Convolute: pleated or rolled like an umbrella

Corraloid: resembling coral in structure

Cordate: heart shaped

Cordiform: heart shaped

Coriaceous: leathery texture

Corm: the swollen, solid, subterranean, bulb-like stem or stem base

Corniculate: having small horn-like protruberance

Cornute: horn-shaped

Corolla: The second lower most whorl of sterile parts of a flower, and each member is termed a petal

Corrugate: loosely wrinkled or crumpled

Corymb: a racemose inflorescence that has the lower flowers at the same height as the upper, the outermost flowers open first

Corymbose: having a corymb shape

Corymbiform: having a corymb shape

Costa: a single pronounced midvein or midrib

Costate: having a single pronounced midrib or midvein

Crassinode: nodes that are swollen

Crenate: scalloped or toothed

Crenulate: toothed margins

Crest: a dentate elevation or ridge

Crispate: curled

Cristate: crested

Cruciate: cross-shaped

Cruciform: cross-shaped

Ctenoid: comb-like

Cubiform: dice-shaped

Cucullate: arched into a hood

Cucumiform: cucumber-like

Cultrate: Knife-shaped

Cultriform: resembling a knife blade

Cuneate: wedge or triangular shaped with the narrow point attached

Cuneiform: wedge shaped

Cupreous: color or luster of copper

Cupulate: Cup-Shaped

Cusp: a short, stiff, abrupt point

Cuspidate: ending in a sharp hard point

Cuspidulate: minutely ending in a sharp point

Cyclic: having whorls or circles

Cymbiform: boat shaped

Cymose: an inflorescence that is divaricately broad, of determinate or centrifugal type - see photo link


Dactyloid, Dactylose: finger-like

Dambo a type of African inland wetland

Deciduous: sheds leaves in a certain season

Declinate: bent down or forward

Declined: bent down or forward

Decrescent: gradually reducing in size

Decumbent: when the stem lays close to the ground

Decurrent: extending outwards

Decurved: curved downward

Deflexed: bent outwards

Dehisce: split in definite parts by valves, slits, or pores as in fruit capsules

Deltoid: triangular with rounded corners

Dentate: toothed

Denticulate: fine toothed

Dentiform: tooth-shaped

Denudate: Stripped or made bar

Depauperate: organs that through selection can dessicate or be ill-formed as if starved, yet are perfectly healthy and are adapted to deal with environmental stress

Dependant: hanging down from the weight of flowers or fruit

Deplanate: flattened or expanded

Depressed: flattened down as if pressed from above

Descending: tending to go gradually downwards

Diandrous: Having two stamen

Diaphanous: transparent

Dichotomous: forked in pairs,or repeatedly divided into branches

Didymous:B Found in pairs, two parted

Difform: dissimilar

Diffuse: spreading out widely

Digitate: fingered

Digonous: two-angled

Dilated /Dilating: broadened, expanding

Dilation: widens into a blade

Dimorphic / Dimorhpous: occuring in two different shapes or forms

Dioeciuous: Unisexual

Disc: the upper surface or face of the central labellum

Disciform: circular and flattened

Discoid: disc-shaped

Dissected: leaves or flattened organs that are cut in any way [lacinate, lacerate, incised, palmatisect, or pinnatisect

Distal: towards the free end of an organ

Distant: oppisite of proximate - widely spaced flowers, pseudobulbs or leaves

Distichous: leaves or flowers borne in to opposite ranks

Distinct: Separate - not connate or otherwise united or fused - easily distinguishable, evident or obvious

Divaricate: widely diverging

Divergent: broadly spreading from the center

Dolabriform: hatchet-shaped

Doleiform: barrel-shaped

Dorsal: relating to the side facing farthest away from the axis of a flower

Dorsal sepal: the upper-most sepal in nonresupinate orchid flowers

Dorsifixed: any organ that is attached with the dorsal surface to another

Dorsiventral: flattened with a separate dorsal and ventral side ie most leaves and leaf blades

Downy: finely haired or pubescent

Duplicate: double or doubled over, as the 2 similar sides of a leaf


Ebracteate: bractless

Ecallose: without calli

Eccentric: off center or one sided

Echinate: prickly

Echinulate: Covered with spiney points

Eciliate: without cilia

Eglandular: without glands

Eligulate: without ligules or not ligulate

Ellipsoid: a compressed sphere

Elliptic: oblong with regular rounded ends

Elongate: stretched or extended

Emarginate: notched usually at the apex

Embracing: clasping at the base

Endemic: confined to a particular area

Ensiform: sword shaped

Entire: divisionless or without irregularity

Ephemeral: very short-lived, fleeting

Epichile: The end part of a jointed labellum of some orchids

Epidermis: the outer layer of the periderm

Epigeal: on or above the soil

Epilithic: occuring on rocks

Epiphyllic/ Epiphyllous; growing from or positioned on a leaf -flowers and inflorescence

Epiphyte: orchids occuring on trees but not parasitic

Epseudobulbous: Without pseudobulbs

Equitant: each leaf is folded along it's length and encloses the leaf that is younger

Erianthous: wooly flowered

Erinose: covered with sharp points or hairs - prickly

Erose: jagged, bitten or gnawed

Erostrate: Without a beak

Evanescent: Soon vanishing

Evolute: unfolded

Exarate: grooved

Excentric: off center or one sided

Excrescense: Small warty outgrowth

?Excurrent: running out, like the nerve of a floral segment or leaf projecting beyond the margin

Explanate: flat or spread out

Exsert: extend beyond

Extine: The outer coat of a pollen grain

Extrorse: turned or facing out - abaxial

Eye: the incipent bud of a growth


Falcate: sickle shaped

Farinaceous: resembling flour

Farinose: a texture - see photo link

Fascile:a cluster or head of flowers, stems, leaves, stems or roots that are most always independant by seem to arise from a single point

Fasciation: a malformation caused by several stems being fused into one

Fasciculate: an inflorescence that has all the flowers radiating from a base point - see photo link

Faucet gland: A tap like gland on coryanthes that secretes smelly liquid

Fenestrate: with window-like areas

Ferruginous: brown red, rust colored

Fibrillose: having thread-like fibers or scales

Fibrose: woody and stringy texture

Fibrous:woody and stringy texture

Filament: a thread-like hair, organ or appendage

Filliform: thread like

Fimbria: fringe

Fimbriate: fringed with hair or thread like growths

Fissile: easily split

Fistulose / Fistular: pipe-like, hollow and cylindrical

Flabellate: fan-shaped often pleated and nerved

Flabelliform: fan shaped

Flaccid: flabby

Flagellate: having whip-like growths

Flagelliform: whip like

Flavescent: Yellowish

Flexuose: zigzag

Flexuous: zigzag

Floccose: having woolly hairs that fall away easily

Flocculent/flocculose: woolly

Floriferous: having many flowers and or often

Foliaceous: leaf like

Foliate: having leaves

Foveolar: pitted or with small depressions

Fractiflex zigzag

Free: separate, not fused, distinct

Fringed: having hairs or outgrowths arounf the margin

Fugacious: soon withering

Funneleiform: funnel-like

Furcate: forked into two

Furfuraceous: scruffy, scaly or flakey

Furrowed: channeled or grooved lengthwise

Fuscous: blackish-gray

Fused: fully almagamated to make a whole

Fusiform: spindle shaped

Fusoid: slightly fusiform


Galea: helmet shaped structure such as in the flowers of pterostylis

Galeate: helmet-shaped

Gammate: shaped like a greek letter, 'Gamma'

Geminate: paired

Geniculate: bent as a knee

Geniculum: a joint or node that is bent sharply like a knee

Genus: the smallest group of species that have certain essential characteristics in common, the first word in any scientific biological name is the genus and the second is the species, ie., Cattleya skinnerii.

Geophyte: terrestrials that have a large water storage capability to survive arid conditions

Gibbous: with a swollen spur

Glabrous: hairless or having a smooth surface

Gladiate: sword-like

Gland: any organ or cells that secrete a fluid

Glandular: gland bearing

Glaucescent: somewhat glaucose

Glaucose: pale blue green or grayish green furze that easily wipes off

Glaucous: pale blue green or grayish green furze that easily wipes off

Globose: almost round

Glomerate amassed in one or more dense or compact clusters

Glumaceous scaly in the sense of bracts

Glutinose: covered with a sticky or wet substance

Gracile: slender and graceful

Graminaceous: grassy or grass-like

Graminifolius: grassy or grass-like leaves

Granulose: composed or appearing to be made up of minute grains

Guttate: Spotted

Gynostemium: An alternate name for the column.


Hamate: hooked apically

Hastate: spear-shaped or arrow-shaped

Helicoid: spirally clustered, snail or spring-shaped

Herbaceous: without woody tissue

Hermaphroditic: having both male and female sexual organs in the same flower

Heteranthous: a growth that produces neither pseudobulb or leaf yet from which a new inflorescence arises

Heterophyllous: having two or more leaf forms on the same plant either at once or at different times

Hippocrepiform: horseshoe-shaped

Hirsute: covered with long hairs- see photo link

Hirsutullous: somewhat hirsute

Hirtellous: minutely hirsute

Hirtuse: same as hirsute

Hispid: with bristles or strong hairs

Hispidulous: minutely hispid

Hoary: covered with white or gray hairs

Homogamous: having hermaphrodite flowers

Hooded: cucullate

Horn: an outgrowth that is shaped like an animal's horn

Hyaline: transparent or transluscent

Hydroponic: a method of growing with nutrient solutions only

Hypochile: lower or basal part of a jointed labellum of some orchids

Hysteranthous: An infloresccence that arisies on a mature pseudobulb and leaf


Imbricate: overlapping

Immersed: embedded below the surface

Imperfect: parts that normally are present but do not deveolp - or flowers that are unisexual

Impressed: sunken into the surface of

Incised: dissected but cut deeply and irregularly with the parts joined by a broad lamina

Included: enclosed within

Incrassate: thickened most often of skin

Incumbent: lying upon a surface,

Incurved: curved inwards

Indent: notched

Indigenous: native

Indumentum: covering of hair or scales

Induplicate: folded inwards

Indurate: hardened and tough

Inferior: the description of an ovary that is below the perianthe, the norm for all orchids

Inflated: blown up or swollen, bladder-like

Inflected: bent or flexed

Inflexed: turned or bent inwards

Inflorescence: the shoot or stick that the flowers are arranged on that arises from a plant

Infundibular/ infundibuliform: funnel-shaped

Inodorus: Not scented

Inrolled: rolled inwards on the upper side

Insectiform: has the appearance of an insect

Inserted: attached to or placed upon

Insignis: Noble, admirable, conspicuous

Internode: the space on a stem between nodes

Inverted: turned updide down

Involute: rolled inwards on the upper side

Irritable: sensitive to the touch

Islenbergs: Refers to flat topped buttes that form in Madagascar


Karst: A rocky outcrop formation usually limestone related

Keel: an obvious ridge that runs longitudinally down the center of a leaf, petiole, bract, petal, sepal or lip

Keeled: having a ridelike structure

Keiki: a plantlet that develops on an inflorescence from a floral bract.

Kliniandrum: the place where the pollina are attached to the column


Labellum: a very distinct lip like petal on orchids

Lacerate: cut as if torn

Lacinate: finely and irregularly cut as if slashed

Lacrimiform, lachrymaeform: tear-shaped

Lacunose: pitted with depressions or holes

Laevigate: smoothly polished

Lageniform: flask-shaped

Lamella: raised ridges on the lip as in coelogyne

Lamellate: composed of thin plates

Lamina: a flattened expansion of an organ, ie. the broad middle part of the labellum

Laminate: blade like

Lanate: woolly

Lanceolate: lance or spear shaped

Lanose: woolly

Lanuginose: finer than lanate - cottony

Lanulose: finer than lanulose - extremely fine hair

Lateral: at the side

Lax: loose - as in flower placement on an inflorescence

Laxpendant: loosely hanging

Leathery: coriaceous

Lead: the emergence of a new pseudobulb usually at the base of a developed pseudobulb

Leaf shapes and margins:

Leaf Apices and Bases:

Leaf-fistula: the opening of a hollow leaf that has the stem emerging

Lectotype: a species that serves as a type species when original author does not designate one

Lenticular / lenticulate: lens-shaped - both sides convex

lentiform: Convex on both sides

Lentiginous: covered with tiny dots - dusty

Lepidote: covered with tiny scurfy scales - as in butterfly scales

Ligneous / lignose: woody

Ligulate: strap or tongue-shaped

Ligule: a thin membraneous appendage at the apex of a leaf sheath

Linear: long and narrow

Lineate: striated

Lined: striated

Lingulate: tongue or strap-shaped

Linguiform: toungue-shaped

Lip: the unpaired petal of an orchid

Lithophyte: a rock growing plant

Lithophytic: found growing on rocks

Lobate: furnished with lobes

Lobe: a division or segment in a organ,leaf or petal

Lobulate: having lobes

Lobule: a small lobe

Lorate: strap-like

Lunate: crescent or moon-shaped

Lyrate: harp-shaped


Maculate: spotted

Mammillate: having nipple like projections

Marcescent: withering yet persistent

Marginal: at the edge of an organ

Marginate: having an obvious border

Mealy: farinose

Median: the radius of a leaf

Medium: an organic or inorganic material used to fill pots and support the root system of orchids or a jelly-like or liquid nutrient substance for which seeds are laid to enhance germination in sterile conditions such as in a sealed a flask.

Membranaceous: thin and semi-transluscent

Mentum: a chin or pouch like extension formed by the column foot and the bases of the lateral sepals being united

Mericlone: a plant created by meristematic propagation

Meristem: The growing tissue that is constantly dividing at the tips of the roots and the growth eyes on a pseudobulb

Mesial: towards or on the middle of a part

Mesochile: the middle section of the jointed labellum of some orchids, ie the Gongoreae

Midrib: the central or primary vein of a leaf, most often in the center as a continuation of the petiole

Moniliform: like a string of pearls

Monocot: a monocotyledonous plant. differs from dicots by having a single, not double, cotyledon in the seed. The Orchidaceae is a member of this group called Angiosperms which include Palmae and Amaryllidaceae.

Monopodial: growing year after year from a single basal point ie. , Vanda - see photo link

Monotypic: a genus with a single species

Motile: capable of moving; ie the lip of many Bulbophyllum

Mucilage: gluey or vicous fluid

Mucilaginous: slimey

Mucro: a sharp, abrupt terminal point

Mucronate: having a mucro or sharp point

Multifid: cleft more than once giving rise to 3 or more lobes

Multigeneric: A cross made out of more than 3 genera

Muricate: having many sharp points

Muriculate: slightly muricate

Muscariform: brush or broom-shaped

Mutation: a sudden change from the parent type due to changes in the genes or chromosomes

Mycoheterotrophic: a plant that derives its food from fungi, and has only tubers, no leaves to make chlorophyl and an erect stem that blooms, hence when seen is only an inflorescence with flowers arising from the ground

Mycorrhizza: a fungi that lives symbiotically with a plant mostly in the roots

Myrmecophilia: ant bearing

Mymecophyte: a plant in symbiosis with ants


Navicular: Boat-shaped

Nectary: a tiny to large tubular spur or gland capable of secreting and or holding nectar

Nervation: refers to the pattern of veins or nerves on an organ

Nerved: furnished with ribs or veins

Nervose: furnished with ribs or veins

Netted: reticulated or net-veined

Nigrescent: turning black

Nocturnal: night active - as having night scent or flowers opening or closing at night

Node: the area on a stem where on or more leaves, shoots, flowers, branches or whorls are connected

Nodose: having many nodes packed close together

Nodule: a small rather globose projection

Nomenclature: a system of names and naming

Non-resupinate: holding the lip of the flower at the top and the median sepal is held below [most orchid flowers are resupinate with the lip of the flower held below and a dorsal sepal above]

Nutant: nodding as in inflorescence or stems


Obconic: conic upsidedown

Obclavate: club shaped, widest at the base

Obcordate: cordate upside down, with the nose towards the apex and the two lobed towards the base

Obcuneate: cuneate upside down

Obfalcate: inversly sickle shaped, broadest above the middle

Oblanceolate: lance shaped in reverse, widest at the apex

Oblate: a sphere that is compressed dorsally and ventrally

Oblique: with unequal sides, asymetrical

Oblong: elongate but blunt at each end

Obovate: tapering to both ends

Obovoid: like obovate but widest below the middle - obovate in crossection

Obpyramidal: a pyramid tapering from the apex

Obpyriform: pear-shape upside down - wide apically and narrowing towards the base

Obsolescent: reduced to the point of being vestigal

Obsolete: extinct or not evident

Obtuse: bluntly pointed or rounded at the apex

Obverse: the front side

Opaque: dull, neither shining nor transluscent

Operculate: having a cap or lid

Operculum: Anther Cap

Orbicular: circular

Orifice: the mouth of a cavity

Orthotropic: where the growth response is directly towards or away from the stimulus

Osmophore: a gland in the flower that produces scent to attract pollinators

Ovary: the lower part of the pistil that has the ovules, and when fertilized holds the fruit or seed

Ovate: egg-shaped

Ovoid: egg shaped

Ovule: an unfertilized seed in the ovary


Palae: roundish, flat, movable projections connected by a thin thread

Paleaceous: chaffy in texture

Palmate: lobed and radiating like fingers

Pandurate: fiddle-shaped as in the lip of Coelogyne pandurata

Panduriform: Fiddle-shaped

Panicle: an inflorescence that has the axis divided into branches both bearing a group of flowers

Paniculate: an adjective for an inflorescence type - see photo link

Pannose: felt-like

Papilla: small wart like glands or nodes

Papillose: a texture with small round ended hairs - see photo link

Papyraceous: papery

Parallel: veins running along longitudunally even with the margin

Patellate: saucer-shaped

Patelliform: saucer shaped

Patent: spreading

Pectinate: like the teeth of a comb

Pedicel: the stalk of an individual flower on an inflorescence

Peduncle: stalk of a flower cluster

Pedunculate: possesing a peduncle or stalk

Peltate: the stalk is attached at the back and center of the leaf

Pellucid: Partially or totally transparent

Peloria: An hereditary malformation which adds extra segments to a flower

Pendulous: hanging

Penicillate: ending in a tuft of hair

Perfect: Having both sexes represented in the same flower

Perianth: single term for the calyx and corolla

Persistant: does not wither or fall off

Petals: an individual member of the corolla, orchids have 3

Petaloid: resembles a petal

Petiolate: Having a petiole

Petiole: the leaf stalk

Pilose: a texture - see photo link

Pistil: the female sexual organs of an orchid consisting of the stigma, ovary and styles

Pitcher: a cup like or tubular organ

Pitcher-shaped, cup-like yet narrows towards the opening

Placenta: parts of the ovary that the ovules are attached

Plane: a flat surface

Plantlet: a smaller or secondary plant that develops upon another

Pleated: folded like a fan

Plicate: folded like a fan

Plumed: having a feather-like appearance

Plumose: feather like

Pluriracemose: Blooming various times over several seasons out of the same raceme

Pollina: generally more than one mass formed by the grouping of pollen grains and housed in the stamen

Pollinarium: the male reproductive system in entirety - Pollina, anther, viscidium and stipe

Pollinium: The plural of pollina

Polygamous: having both unisex and bisexual flowers on the same inflorescence or different plants within the same species

Polymorphic: having more than one distinct form

Polystichous: arranged in several rows

Polytrichous: many haired

Porrect: directed forwards and downwards

Posterior: the parts of an organ closest tothe axis or stem on which it grows

Praemorse: bitten off at the apex

Primordium: a organ or tissue in it's earliest state of development

Proboscis: nose

Process: a projecting appendage

Procumbent: trailing over the ground without rooting

Projecting: extended outwards past the apical margins

Proliferation: producing ample offshoots

Prominent: standing out from the surface

Prostrate: lying on or trailing over the ground

Proteranthous: the inflorescence arises from the base of the leaves before the development of the pseudobulbs and leaf

Protocorm: a tuber like shape that is formesd in the early stage of a plant's development before roots and leaves are produced

Protruding: extending beyond the edge

Proximal: part nearest to the axis

Proximate: close together

Pruinose: a surface frosted with white

Pseudobulb: a swollen bulb like part of most orchids that holds the leaves and is attached to the rhizome

Pseudocopulation: orchid flowers through eveloution that develop a similarity to a female of a pollinator whereby causing a male of that species to attempt to copulate and in turn affecting pollination of the flower

Pseudoterminal:seeemingly terminal yet under close inspection is axillary

Puberulent: minutely pubescent or covered with very soft, fine hairs

Puberlose / Puberlous: minutely pubescent or covered with very soft, fine hairs

Pubescent: having soft, downy hairs

Pulverulent: powdery, or covered in a fine bloom

Pulvinate: cushion or pad shaped

Pulvinus: a cushion or pad at the insertion of a stalk on a a stem

Punctate: speckled with spots, dents or pits

Puncticulate:minutely punctate

Pungent: ending in a rigid and sharp long point

Pustular/ Pustulate: refers to a surface that is covered with pustules

Pustule: a blister or pimple-like eruption

Pustuliform: blister-like

Pyramidal: conical yet with more angular sides

Pyriform: pear shaped


Quadrangular: four-angled

Quadrate: rectangular or square

Quadrilateral: four-sided

Raceme: a single , elongate, indeterminate inflorescence with pedicellate flowers

Racemiform: an inflorescence that appears to be a raceme

Racemose: an inflorescence that has flowers that are set in a zig zag from side to side - see photo link

Rachis: The axis of a compound inflorescence, as an extention of the peduncle

Radiate: speading outward from a common center

Radical: arising from the root or near the nexus of the stem and root

Raft: a wood or treefern plaque that is used to attach an orchid for it to root to

Ramet: an individual of a clonal line

Ramicaul: well developed erect one leafed stems ie. Zootrophion, Pleurothallis

Reclinate: turned or bent down from the apex

Reclining: leaning backward from the vertical

Recomplicate: folded back on itself and then folded again

Recurved: curved backwards or downwards

Reflexed: suddenly bent backwards

Remomtant: blooming more than once in a season

Remote: distant

Reniform: kidney shaped

Repent: ground creeping and rooting at the joints

Resupinate: the flower is reversed by a 180' twist of the pedicel during development and holds the lip at the bottom and the dorsal sepal above

Reticulate: net like

Retinaculum: the attachment of stipitate pollina to the rostellum

Retracted: drawn back

Retroflex: bent or turned backwards

Retrorse: turned, bent or curved away from the apex

Retuse: a shallow dent or notch in a rounded apex

Reversed: in a flower, not having a twisted pedicel, non resupinate

Revolute: The edges of the leaves rolled back towards the mid-rib

Rhizome: a prostate or underground stem, that which the pseudobulbs arise from

Rhombic: of the lamina, nearly square with petiole at one of the acute angles

Ribbed: possesing raised veins or nerves

Ringent: wide open and gaping

Roridulous: covered with small transluscent projections giving the appearance of being dew covered

Rosellate: Held in a rosette or radiating cluster of leaves

Rosette: a cluster of radiating leaves

Rostellum: a structure on the column as a little beak a slender extensin from the upper edge of the stigma

Rostrate: beaked

Rostrum: a beak like extension

Rotund: rounded or curved as in an arc

Rudimentary: imperfectly developed

Rufescent/ Rufous: reddish brown

Rugose: Eneven texture - see photo link

Rugulose: finely wrinkled

Ruminate: seemingly chewed on

Runcinate: having sharp teeth facing backwards

Rupicolus: Growing on or deeply among rocks


Saccate: short and rounded like a small bag

Sagittate: arrow head shaped

Saprophyte: a plant that lives in dead organic matter and has only tubers, no leaves and an erect stem that blooms

Saprophytic: a plant that derives its food from decaying organic matter, and has only tubers, no leaves and an erect stem that blooms, hence when seen is only an inflorescence with flowers arising from the ground

Saxicolous: growing in around or on rocks

Scaberlous: minutely rough

Scabrous: having short, wiry hairs making a rough surface

Scandent: climbing

Scape: a stalk from the base of the plant that has flowers and not leaves

Scapose: having inflorescence or carried on an inflorescence

Scarabaeiform: beetle-shaped

Scarious: dry, transparent, thin, brown as if charred

Scarred: having leftover marks from where organs have been attached - ie where leaves fall off stems

Scobicular: in fine grains like sawdust

Scrotiform: Pouch shaped

Scurfy: covered with tiny scal-like particles

Scutate: shaped like a shield

Scutelliform: small shield-shaped

Scutiform: shield shaped

Sectile: loosely amassed in packets such as some pollina

Secund: all organs or flowers are positioned to one side

Semilunar: half moon shaped

Semiterete: semi-cylindrical with a very narrow v-shape to one side

Sepal: a calyx segment of which orchid flowers have three

Sepaline: pertaining to the sepals

Sepaloid: sepal-like

Septate: partitioned

Sequentially: occuring in a sequence, one at a time

Sericeous: silky

Serrate: saw-like

Serrulate: tiny saw teeth

Sessile: stalkless

Seta: stiff hair or bristle

Setae: plural of seta

Setaceous: bristly

Setiform: bristle-shaped

Setose: covered with sharp, pointed bristles

Setulose: finely or minutely setose

Sheath: a conduplicate, tubular to bract-like structure that is at the base of a leaf and has the inflorescence arise from it

Sigmoid: s-shaped

Simple: an unbranched inflorescence

Sinuate: having wavy margins

Sinus: a pocket or cavity between 2 lobes

Solitary: occuring singly

Spathaceous: Occuring with a spathe

Spathe: A concspicuous leaf or bract subtending the inflorescence

Spatulate: spoon-shaped

Speculum: a mirroe like surface on an organ ie the iridescent blue patch occuring on some Ophyrs

Spicate: resembling a spike

Spiciform: spike-shaped

spiculate: having fine, fleshy points

Spike: an unbranched inflorescence that has the youngest flowers at the end

Spinescent: having or capable of having spines; ending in a spine-like tip

Spinous: having spines

Spinule: a small spine

Spinulous: having small or sparsely spread spines

Spreading: opening outwards

Spur: a horn-like extension of the petals

Squamose: covered in scales

Squamulous: having small scales

Stalk: a stem like support of any organ

Stamen: the male organ of a flower made up of the pollen bearing anther and a sterile filament

Staminal; attached to or related to a stamen

Staminate: a male or unisexual flower that has no functioning pistil or female part

Staminodal: relating to a staminode

Staminode: a sterile stamen or stamen-like structure, in orchids used only for the slipper orchids, Paphiopedilum and Cypripedium

Stellate: star-like

Stelidia: A star-like projection at either side of the column

Stem-clasping: the leaf is wrapped around the stem at the base

Stigma: at the top of the pistil which is the recieving end for the pollen or female part

Stigmatic: attached or related to the stigma

Stipe: stalked part of the pollina

Stiptate: plural of stipe

Stolon; a running stem that forms roots

Stoma: a pore where gases are exchanged, a mouth

Stramineous: straw colored

Striate: having parallel lines

Strict: straight and erect

Strigose: covered with sharp, adpessed, stiff hairs

Strigulose: minutely or finely strigose

Striolated: obscurely striated

Subacuminate: almost acuminate

Subimbricate: slightly overlapping

Subopposite: opposite yet slightly alternate

Subquadrate: almost square

Subsessile: with a partial or very short stalk

Subtend: being immediately below something

Subterranean: below ground

Subulate: shaped like an awl, thin and tapering to a small point

Subumbellate: a partial or seeming to be an umbel but not quite

Succulent: Cactus like, thick and fleshy, ie leaves, roots or stems

Suffusion: overspreading of a color

Sulcate: grooved or furrowed

Sympodial: Growing from a new lead forming a new pseudobulb with each spurt of growth - see photo link

Synanthous: An terminal inflorescence that arises with a new pseudobulb and leaf growth

Synflorescence: a terminal inflorescence that has a lateral extension as well ie Epidendrum porphyreum

Synsepal: formed by the fusion of more than one sepal


Taxonomy:B the science of classification

Teeth: marginal sharp projections in a row

Tentacle: a sensitive, glandular hair

Tepal: sepals and petals together excluding the lip

Terete: cylindrical or tubelike

Terminal: at the end

Terrestrial: grows in the ground

Tessellate: crisscross pattern, like a mosaic

Tetragonal: four-sided

Throat: the opening in a tubular lip

Tomentose: having matted hairs

Tortuous: turned every which way

Torulose: an elongated cylindrical, terete or ellipsoid shape that is pinched and then slightly swollen at intervals and less so than moniliform

Trapezoid: four sided figure wqith two sides parallel

Trapeziform: shaped like a four sided object with two parellel sides

Trichome: glandular hair

Tridactyl or tridactylate: three fingered

Tridentate: three toothed

Tridenticulate: finely three toothed

Trifid: having three sections divided by clefts or notches

Trifoliate: having three leaves

Trifurcate: three branched or forked into three limbs

Trigonus: three-angled

Trilobate: three lobed

Trullate: shaped like a trowel

Trimerous: having three each of the sepals and petals

Trimorphic: having three distinct forms

Trinervate: three-nerved

Tripartite: split almost to the base in 3 segments

Tripterous: three-winged

Triquetrous: triangular in cross-section

Trisulcate: three grooved or furrowed longitudinally

Trullate / Truliform: trowel-shaped

Truncate: blunt ended

: Tsingy Forest on karst [a rocky limestone outcrop] in Madagascar

Tuber: swollen underground stem that stores food for the plant

Tuberculate: having knobby projections

Tuberiferous: having tubers

Tuberoid: having a tuber like look

Tuberous: shaped like a tuber

Tumid: swollen

Turbinate: shaped like an inverted cone at the apex

Turgid: swollen of inflated, sometimes with fluid

Type: mostly the specimen upon which the genus is originally described


Umbel: - see photo link

Umbellate: a type of inflorescence - see photo link

Umbelliform: resembling or in the form of an umbel

Umbelicate: having a central depression, like a navel

Umbonate:orbicular witha point sticking out from the center

Unarmed:devpiod of pointy sharp objects, ie spine etc

Unicinate: barbed or hooked at the apex

Undulate: having wavy sides

Unguiculate: clawed or having talon like extensions

Unifoliate: Having a single leaf

Unilocular: single cavity or chamber

Urceolate: pitcher like


Vaginate: having or enclosed by a sheath

Valvate: having valves, or the petals and sepals being arranged so that they are up against the next without overlapping

Variegated: having various colors or color forms

Vein: an externally visible strand of vascular tissues

Velamen: protective coating or sheath on the roots

Velutinous: velvety

Venation: the pattern of vein arrangment

Venose: having veins

Ventral: relating or attached to the inner side of an organ

Ventricose: unequally swollen

Verniculate: worm-shaped

Verrucose: having a warty appearance

Verruculose: finely verrucose

Vesicle: a small bladder-like sac or cavity flled with fluid or air

Vesicular: having or made up of vesicles

Vestigal: an organ that at one time in history served a purpose but as of now it is reduced and obsolete

Villous: having long soft hairs

Virgate: long, slim and rod-like

Viscid: sticky

Viscidium: the sticky part of the male pollina so that it can adhere to an insects back for transport to a female flower part

Viviperous: buds that become plantlets while still attached to the parent plant ie. Epidendrum purpurescens


Whorl: arranged in a circular pattern

Wings: extensions of the lip that are winglike

Wooly: fine hair texture - see photo link

Xerophyte: A plant that is adatped to a very dry arid climate

Xerophytic: drought resistant through adaptation

Zygomorphic: bilaterally symmetrical with only a single plant that can be divided into two equal halves

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