adapted from Woody Plants of the Blue Ridge by Ron Lance. Used by permission.
To see photographic examples of a term, click the camera next to it in the list of botanical terms.
The midrib is the largest, central vein, becoming the petiole below the blade.
Main veins branch from the midrib into a successively smaller network.
- Pinnate venation shows all main veins branching from along midrib.
- Palmate venation shows several main veins branching from a common point of midrib at base of blade.
- Arcuate venation is essentially pinnate, but main veins curve to follow margin of blade.
Parallel (in many monocots) shows many straight veins side by side from base to tip.
Leaf surfaces can be smooth and hairless (glabrous), or hairy in some way. (See discussion on general features.) Additionally, leaf surfaces can be
- lustrous or glossy (shiny),
- dull (green but not shiny), or
- glaucous (pale or whitened).
If they persist beyond Autumn and Winter seasons and fall after new leaves emerge in Spring they are evergreen. Deciduous leaves fall before or during the Autumn season. Some leaves may be tardily deciduous (semi-evergreen); these fall gradually during Winter, or only after sufficiently cold weather.
Simple leaves have one blade.
Compound leaves have divided blades, each blade-like portion called a leaflet.
Types of compound leaves are:
- Pinnate. Leaflets attached along a central stem, the rachis. (The lower portion of the rachis, below lowermost Ieaflets, is the petiole.)
- Bipinnate. Twice pinnately divided; each side rachis and its Ieaflets are pinnae.
- Palmate. Leaflets originate at terminal end of petiole.
- Trifoliate. Three leaflets.
Plant Morphology Terms
- Leaves & Leaves
- Flowers & Flowers
- Fruit & Fruit and Seed
- General Terms
- Palms & Palmettos glossary
- Palms & Palmettos pictorial glossary
- The Blue Ridge
- North Carolina (PDF)
- South Carolina (PDF)
- SC's Wildflower Communities
- The Southeast Mountains
From Wayne's Word, an online textbook of natural history
- Flower Terminology #1
- Flower Terminology #2
- Flower Terminology #3
- Inflorescence Terminology #1
- Inflorescence Terminology #2
- Leaf Terminology #1
- Leaf Terminology #2
- Fruit Terminology #1
- Fruit Terminology #2
- Fruit Terminology #3
- Fruit Terminology #4
From vPlants: a Virtual Herbarium of the Chicago Region
From Vascular Plant Systematics, by Radford, Dickison, Massey, and Bell
From the Plant Information Center at UNC, Chapel Hill
From the Native Plant Trust GoBotany project
From the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation
From the Northern Ontario Plant Database
From the Digital Atlas of Ancient Life
From the Australian Pea-flowered Legume Research Group