Forage Identification - Glossary

Department of Plant Sciences

A glossary of terms used in Forage Identification site.

acute: Tapering to a sharp point. Often used to describe leaves.

alkali: Refers to an arid region soil which contains a soluble mineral salt, such as sodium.

alternate: Refers to leaf arrangement, meaning leaves occur singly at nodes and not as opposite pairs. See opposite.

annual: A plant that completes its life cycle and dies within less than one year.

anthesis: The period when a flower is open.

articulation: Natural separation point or joint.

auricles: Ear-like lobes at the base of the blade of some grasses.

awn: A slender bristle frequently attached to the lemmas or glumes of grasses.

basal: Refers to the base of a plant. For example, basal leaves arise from near ground level.

bearded: Hairy with long, stiff hairs.

biennial: A plant that lives two years, normally flowering only in the second year.

blade: The expanded part of a leaf; in grasses the part above the sheath.

bloat: Excessive accumultion of gases in the rumen of animals because normal escape through the esophagus is impaired, causing distension of the rumen.

bloom: The developmental stage of maximum flowering within an individual plant or plant community.

bulb: An underground stem with fleshy scalelike layered leaves.

bunchgrass: A grass with growing points originating at the base to form an erect tuft of culms. See sod grass

calyx: The outermost series of floral parts; the outer part of the perianth which are often green and leaf like.

cellulose: A carbohydrate formed from glucose, a major constituent of plant cell walls.

cold tolerance: Ability of plants to tolerate stresses when exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees F.

collar: The area on the outer side of a grass leaf at the junction of the blade and sheath.

compound leaf: Leaf composed of two or more similar parts. See leaflets.

cool season plant: A plant that makes most of its growth and flowers during spring or early summer.

cotyledon: Specialized seed leaf in the embryo that serves as a storage organ in dicots and in nutrient absorption in monocots like grasses.

culm: The jointed stem of a grasses and sedges.

deciduous: Refers to perennial woody plants that lose their leaves in winter.

dense: Crowded, the opposite of loose or open.

determinate: Growth habitat where vegetative growth is of fixed duration. When a stem terminates in a floral bud, its growth is determinate.

dicot: Refers to a plant having a seed embryo with two seed-leaves.

dichotomous: Repeatedly two-forked, with brances being nearly equal in size.

dioecious: Having pollen-producing and seed-producing cones or flowers on separate plants.

disarticulating: Disjointing, separating at maturity.

divergent: Projecting or spreading away from, such as a divergent awn.

drought resistance: Ability of plants to resist injury caused by drought stress.

drought tolerance: Ability of plants to tolerate water deficit stress when it occurs.

entire: With an unbroken or smooth margin (such as an entire leaf).

evergreen: Bearing green leaves throughout the year.

fibrous: Refers to a root system which consists of many fine diffuse branches.

floret: The lemma and palea with the included flower parts or fruit of grasses.

flower: The reproductive structure of all flowering plants which, if fertilized, is capable of producing a fruit.

forage: Edible parts of plants, other than separated grain, that can provide feed for grazing animals or that can be harvested for feeding. Generally the term refers to more digestible material.

forage quality: Characteristics that make forage valuable to animals as a source of nutrients to produce meat, milk, wool, or work.

forb: A herbaceous or non-woody plant that is not a grass or a grass-like plant.

fruit: The seed containing product of a plant.

geniculate: Bent abruptly; said of awns or nodes.

genus: (Plural genera) A group of related plants(species). For example, Agropyron is the genus of wheatgrass.

grass: A plant of the grass (Poaceae) family.

grassland: Land on which the vegetation is dominated by grasses.

grasslike: Similar to grasses in general appearance, usually used for sedges and rushes.

habitat: The environmental conditions or kind of place where a plant naturally grows (i.e. forest, tundra, prairie).

hay: Forage preserved by field drying to moisture levels low enough to prevent microbial activity that leads to spoilage.

herb: A plant with no persistent woody stme above ground (such as bluebunch wheatgrass or lupine).

herbaceous: Having the character of a herb, opposed to woody.

herbicide: A chemical used to control weeds in croplands and grasslands.

inflorescence: The flowering part of a plant. The inflorescence of a grass includes spikes, panicles and heads.

internode: The part of a stem between two successive nodes.

introduced plant: A non-native plant(i.e. one that was brought to North America from another continent).

invader: Plants which are annuals, biennials or plants introduced to the North American continent. Invaders tend to replace decreasers and increasers with continuing excess grazing pressure or other disturbances.

joint: The node of a grass stem.

keel: The sharp ridge sometimes found on the back of a sheath, blade, glume or lemma.

killing frost: Temperature that affects the shoot apex enough to stop growth but does not kill all the leaves; generally 24 degrees F.

lanceolate: Narrow, tapering to a point at both ends.

leaf: A lateral organ of a stem; in grasses, consisting of a sheath and blade.

leaflet: A single division of a compound leaf.

legume: A plant belonging to the pea family.

lemma: One of the bracts (scales) next tot the flower of a grass. See floret.

ligule: The thin appendage or ring of hairs on the inside of a grass leaf at the junction of the sheath and blade.

limy: Refers to a soil which contains enough limestone-derived materials to influence plant growth.

lobed: Bearing lobes which are not cut more than halfway to the base or midvein.

native: A plant which is native to the North American continent.

nitrogen fixation: Process by which atmospheric nitrogen is made available to plants.

node: The place on a stem where branches or leaves arise (also the joint of a grass stem).

noxious weed: An undesirable plant for which control measures are required by law.

opposite: Referring to leaf arrangement where leaves occur in pairs on opposite sides of a node. See alternate.

palatability: A quality of forage which influences a grazing animal's desire to graze the plant.

palea: The inner bract or scale of a floret, sometimes partly enclosed by the lemma.

palmate: Spreading like the fingers from the palm, such as a leaf of lupine.

pannicle: An inflorescence with a main axis and multiple branches.

pasture: Type of grazing management unit enclosed and separated from otheer areas by fencing and devoted to the production of forage for harvest primarly by grazing.

perennial: A plant living more than two years.

perfect: A flower with both stamens and pistils.

persistence, plant: The ability of perennial plants to remain alive and production over long periods of time.

persistence, stand: The trait that allows a forage stand to be productive for several years. Occurs due to plant persistence or natural reseeding.

petal: A single unit of the corolla of a flower.

petiole: The stalk of a leaf, supporting the blade.

plains: Extensive tract of gently rolling terrain, originally characterized by grassland vegetation.

pubescent: Covered with short, soft hairs

raceme: An inflorescence in which the flowers or spikelets are attached by pedicils directly to a central rachis.

rachis: The central axis of a spike, raceme or other inflorescence.

range: Land supporting indigenous vegetation that is grazed.

rhizome: A prostrate stem growing beneath the surface of the ground, usually rooting nodes.

riparian: Relating to an area of land adjacent to a natural waterway.

root: The descending axis of a plant. Roots absorb moisture and nutrients from the ground.

rumen: First and largest compartment of the stomach of a ruminant or cud chewing animal.

rush: Plants of the rush (Juncaceae) family that are "grasslike." Rushes have solid, round stems. Leaves tend to come off from two sides of the stem.

saline: Refers to a non-alkaline, but contains enough free salts to interfere with plant growth.

sedge: Plants of the sedge (Cyperaceae) family that are "grasslike." Sedges have solid, triangular stems.

serrate: Having sharp teeth pointing forward, like the edge of a saw blade. Often used to describe the margin of a leaf.

sessile: Without a stalk of any kind.

sheath: The lower part of a grass leaf that encloses the stem.

shoot: A stem and connected leaves that arise from the seed.

silage: Forage preserved at low pH in a succulent condition due to production of organic acids by partial fermentation of sugars in the forage.

simple leaf: A leaf not divided into leaflets.

sod grass: Perennial grasses which form a mass of individuals by means of rhizomes or stolons. Compare to bunchgrass.

soil pH: Acidity or alklinity of the soil solution.

species: A group of related plants which are gentically similar and capable of cross-fertilizing to produce fertile offspring.

spike: An unbranched inflorescence in which the spikelets are sessile on the rachis.

spikelet: The basic unit of the inflorescence in grasses, consisting of two glumes and one or more florets.

stolon: A horizontal above ground root which may produce new shoots at the nodes.

succulent: Fleshy or juicy.

taproot: The primary descending root, typical of many forbs.

toxic: Causing injury, impairment, or death.

tufted: Clumped or clustered, as a close cluster of hairs or stems.

veins: Ribs of a leaf; vascular bundles.

villous: With long, soft hairs.

vegetative: Nonreproductive plant parts (leaf and stem)

warm season plant: A plant which makes most or all of its growth during the late spring and summer and flowers in the summer.

whorl: A cluster of several branches around the axis of an inflorescence, or of several leaves at one node of a stem.

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