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(Sapindaceae) Maple Family. Comprised of 2-4 genera and about 120 species. Species include trees, shrubs, lianas or herbaceous vines with simple, palmate, trifoliolate, or pinnate leaves.

Entry link: Aceraceae


Pine or Spruce Aphid Family. Comprised of 2 genera and about 22 species that are native to the northern hemisphere. Member of this family are covered with a dense woolly wax and only lay eggs.

Entry link: Adelgidae


Suppressing growth of a potential plant competitor by the release of toxic or inhibiting substances.
Entry link: Allelopathic


Amaranth Family. Comprised of about 175 genera and more than 2,500 species, mostly herbs and subshrubs. Members of this family can be annuals or perennials and commonly grow in saline soils. Characterized simple leaves and the presence of betalain pigment which causes the stems, roots, leaves or flowers of many species to be red in color.

Entry link: Amaranthaceae


Refers to plants that complete their life cycle within one year.
Entry link: Annual


Paired sensory organs originating on the insect head.
Entry link: Antennae


To the front.
Entry link: Anterior


(formerly Umbelliferae) Carrot, Celery or Parsley Family. Comprised of about 434 genera and nearly 3,780 species of aromatic herbs. Members of this family usually have hollow stems, small flowers in umbels, flowers with five petals, and white, yellow or pink (not blue) flowers.
Entry link: Apiaceae


Dogbane Family. Comprised of 400 genera and about 4,555 species of trees, shrubs, woody vines and herbs. Members of this family usually have simple leaves, milky sap, a five part calyx, clusters of flowers, five large petals joined at the base and five stamens.
Entry link: Apocynaceae


Growing in water.
Entry link: Aquatic


Arum Family. Comprised of 140 genera and about 4,075 species. Members of this family are characterized by flowers that are borne on a type of inflorescence called a spadix. The spadix is usually accompanied by, and sometimes partially enclosed in, a spathe (leaf-like bract).

Entry link: Araceae


Fleshy seed cover.

Entry link: Aril


(now known as Asclepiadoideae) Milkweed Subfamily. Comprised of more than 214 genera and about 2,400 species of tropical herbs or shrubby climbers, rarely shrubs or trees. Members of this family have milky sap, flowers with five united petals, pod like fruit, and, usually, tufted seeds.
Entry link: Asclepiadaceae


(formerly Compositae) Aster, Daisy or Composite Family. Comprised of more than 1,620 genera and 23,600 species of herbs, shrubs and trees. It is considered the largest plant family. Members of this family usually have daisy-type flowers and are not big trees or aquatic.
Entry link: Asteraceae


A bristlelike appendage of a plant, especially on the glumes of grasses.
Entry link: Awn


The angle between the leafstalk and the stem that bears it.
Entry link: Axil


Baby's Breathe

Commonly cultivated for cut and dry floral arrangements; often included in wildflower seed mixes.

Baby's breathe

Entry link: Baby's Breathe


Touch-me-not Family. Comprised of 2 genera and about 1,000 species of fleshy herbaceous plants that have toothed leaves and spurred flowers. The flowering plants may be annual or perennial.

Entry link: Balsaminaceae


At the base or ground level.
Entry link: Basal


Barberry Family. Comprised of 14 genera and about 701 species of perennial herbs and shrubs. Many of the shrubs have spines or spiny-margined leaves and flowers are highly variable.

Entry link: Berberidaceae


Birch Family. Comprised of 6 genera and about 145 species. Members are trees and shrubs that have simple, serrate, alternative leaves and are deciduous.

Entry link: Betulaceae


Refers to plants that need two years to complete their life cycle.
Entry link: Biennial


Trumpet Creeper or Catalpa Family. Comprised of about 110 genera and more than 800 species of trees, shrubs and, most commonly, vines. Members of this family usually have bright trumpet-shaped flowers in clusters, four stamens, a superior seed capsule containing flat winged seeds, no stipules and are mostly tropical woody climbers.
Entry link: Bignoniaceae


A leaf of grass or the broad portion of a leaf as distinct from the petiole.
Entry link: Blade


Pigmented spot with an indistinct outline or shape.
Entry link: Blotch


Borage or Forget-me-Not Family. Comprised of 148 genera and more than 2,700 species. Frequently herbaceous and hairy and can be annuals or perennials. Members of this family usually have blue flowers in a coiled inflorescence, hairy stems and leaves, no stipules, and produces four seeds.
Entry link: Boraginaceae


A specialized leaf-like structure, from which a flower or flower stalk grows; some may be very small.
Entry link: Bract


(formerly Cruciferae) Mustard Family. Comprised of 338 genera and about 3,700 species of major economic importance. They are usually herbs and can be annuals, biennials, or perennials. Members of this family usually have four petalled flowers in a cross shape, clusters of flowers, and a papery membrane dividing a two-chambered seed capsule.
Entry link: Brassicaceae


Flowering Rush Family. Comprised of just one species, Butomus umbellatus. It is native to Europe and Asia and has become naturalized in temperate North America.

Entry link: Butomaceae



Water Shield Family. Comprised of 2 genera and about 6 species of aquatic, herbaceous plants that live in still or slow-moving waters of temperate and tropical North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

Entry link: Cabombacaea


The sepals, collectively.
Entry link: Calyx


Freshwater Crayfish Family. This is the largest of the four families of freshwater crayfish and is comprised of over 400 species. Most are native to the United States east of the Great Divide and Mexico.

Entry link: Cambaridae


Bellflower Family. Comprised of 84 genera and about 2,400 species of mostly herbaceous (woody), perennial plants. Members of this family usually have many showy, blue or white, bell-like flowers.
Entry link: Campanulaceae


Honeysuckle Family. Comprised of 42 genera and 890 species. Well known for its many ornamental shrubs and vines. Members are trees, shrubs, vines or herbs and recognizable by their opposite leaves.

Entry link: Caprifoliaceae


A dry, splitting fruit that grows from more than one carpel, usually with several or many seeds.
Entry link: Capsule


The basic female unit of a flower that bears the ovules; several may be united to form a compound pistil.
Entry link: Carpel


Pink or Carnation Family. Comprised of 100 genera and 2,200 species of herbaceous annuals and perennials. Most are cultivated as garden ornamentals or cut flowers for the floral industry. Members of this family usually have swollen leaf joints, simple undivided leaves, a calyx with five lobes, no stipules, flowers with four or five petals, white, pink or red flowers (rarely yellow, but never blue).
Entry link: Caryophyllaceae


A dense spike of many flowers with no petals.
Entry link: Catkin


Staff-Tree Family. Comprised of about 55 genera of woody vines, shrubs, and trees that are native to tropical and temperate zones. Fruit are typically colorful, leaves are leathery and flowers are small, with four to five sepals and petals.

Entry link: Celastraceae


Long-horned Beetle Family. Comprised of about 25,000 species of beetles whose common name is derived from the extremely long antennae of most species.

Entry link: Cerambycidae


Freshwater Perciform Fish or Snakehead Family. Comprised of 3 genera and more than 50 species of elongated, predatory fish. Characterized by their large mouths and long, single dorsal and anal fins. They are also able to breathe atmospheric air with the help of a pair of vascular cavities located near the gills.

Entry link: Channidae


Stonewort or Freshwater Green Algae Family. Comprised of 6 genera and about 400 species that primarily live in fresh or occasionally, brackish waters. Members of this family have large, macroscopic thalli that grow up to 120 cm long, branched, multicellular and use chlorophyll to photosynthesize. They are very fragile and release a foul odor when crushed.

Entry link: Characeae


Without a stalk and slightly surrounding the stem.
Entry link: Clasping


A type of flower that do not open and self-pollinates.

Entry link: Cleistogamous


A group of plants that arise vegetatively from a single plant.
Entry link: Clone


Ray-finned Fish Family. Includes herrings, sardines, pilchards, shads, menhadens, and allies. Comprised of about 56 genera and 190 species that live in marine waters and many bodies of fresh water.

Entry link: Clupeidae


(formerly Guttiferae) Garcinia Family. Comprised of about 14 genera and about 800 species of tropical trees and shrubs. Many of which are important for their fruit, resins, or timbers. Members of this family usually have undivided leaves occurring opposite one another, glands on the leaves, five sepals and five petals, and many stamens.
Entry link: Clusiaceae


True Loach Family. Comprised of more than 200 species with most being native to central and southern Asia. Typical loach have very small scales and 3-6 pairs of whisker-like barbels around its mouth. They are hardy and usually nocturnal.

Entry link: Cobitidae


Entry link: Concept


Bindweed or Morning Glory Family. Comprised of 59 genera and about 1,600 species that are widespread in both tropical and temperate areas and cultivated for their colorful, funnel-shaped flowers. Most are twinning and erect herbs, with a few woody vines, trees and shrubs. Members of this family usually have trumpet-shaped flowers with five fused petals, five stamens fused to the base of the trumpet, simple leaves growing alternately up the stem, and a superior ovary.
Entry link: Convolvulaceae


The active stage of an insect immediately after egg hatch (first instar) found among certain insects in the order Hemiptera.
Entry link: Crawler


Sedge Family. Comprised of 70-115 genera and about 5,000 species of grasslike, herbaceous plants. Member of this family have fibrous roots, triangular stems and three-ranked, linear leaves. Many species are annuals, especially those of weedy or seasonal habits.

Entry link: Cyperaceae


Minnow and Carp Family. Includes minnows, goldfish, bitterlings, barbs, and carps. Comprised of about 220 genera and 2,420 species that live in fresh but sometimes brackish waters. They have pharyngeal teeth in 1-3 rows, some with 1 or 2 pairs of small barbels and range from 2.5 to 250 cm.

Entry link: Cyprinidae



With male and female flowers on different individuals.
Entry link: Dioecious


Yam Family. Comprised of 4 genera and 870 species of herbaceous or woody vines and shrubs, distributed throughout tropical and warm temperate regions. Member of this family have thick, sometimes woody roots or tuber-like underground stems and net-veined, often heart-shaped leaves that are sometimes lobed.

Entry link: Dioscoreaceae


Teasel Family. Comprised of 11 genera and about 350 species of perennial or biennial herbs and shrubs. Flowers are bisexual and slightly irregular, clustered in a dense head. There are five sepals, four to five united petals and four stamens.

Entry link: Dipsacaceae


Pertaining to the top (back) of the fish.
Entry link: Dorsal

Dorsal Fin

Entry link: Dorsal Fin


Freshwater Bivalve Family. Comprised of 4 genera of small freshwater mussels and aquatic bivalve mollusks that attach themselves to stones or other hard surfaces using a byssus.

Entry link: Dreissenidae



Oleaster Family. Comprised of 3 genera of shrubs and small trees of the Northern Hemisphere. Plants have a characteristic silvery or rusty-colored sheen, produced by a covering a tiny, distinctive scales. Root nodules contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

Entry link: Elaeagnaceae


Referring to an aquatic plant that extends above the water's surface.
Entry link: Emergent


Without teeth, as in a leaf margin.
Entry link: Entire


Heath Family. Comprised of 126 genera and about 4,000 species of shrubs and small trees. Many species are cultivated and thrive in open, barren land with acidic, poorly drained soils. Members of this family usually have woody stems, simple evergreen leaves growing alternately, clusters of flowers, flowers with 4 or 5 petals forming a tube or trumpet, stamens not attached to the flower tube.
Entry link: Ericaceae



(formerly Leguminosae) Pea Family. Comprised of more than 700 genera and about 20,000 species of trees, shrubs, vines and herbs. It is the third largest plant family behind Orchidaceae and Asteraceae.
Entry link: Fabaceae


Containing fibers.
Entry link: Fibrous


Either of the two front wings of a four-winged insect.
Entry link: Forewing


Breaking into smaller pieces; production of a new individual from a piece of the original plant.
Entry link: Fragmentation


Lanternfly Family. Comprised of about 143 genera and 716 species of brilliantly colored, moderate to large sized insects. Some members of this family are characterized by a hollow projection on their head which resembles a snout. It is sometimes inflated, nearly as long as the body, long and upturned.

Entry link: Fulgoridae



Geranium Family. Comprised of 7 genera and about 800 species. They are typically herbs with spiral or opposite leaves and used in the production of essential oils and cultivated ornamentals. Members of this family can be annual or perennial, usually have blue, mauve, red, pink or white (not yellow) flowers with five petals, and a beaked seed capsule.
Entry link: Geraniaceae


African Violet Family. Comprised of 147 genera and about 3,200 species of mostly tropical and subtropical herbaceous or slightly woody plants. Many of which are of economic importance as horticultural ornamentals. Members of this family usually have underground fibrous roots, tubers or scaly rhizomes, irregular flowers with five sepals and five petals, and produce many small seeds in a capsule.
Entry link: Gesneriaceae


Smooth, without hairs.
Entry link: Glabrous


Having glands.
Entry link: Glandular


Covered with a whitish, fine, waxy powder that rubs off.
Entry link: Glaucaus


Goby family. Comprised of more than 200 genera and 2,200 species. They are small, bony, carnivorous and primarily live in marine habitats.

Entry link: Gobiidae



Water Milfoil Family. Comprised of 8 genera and 145 species of land, marsh, and water herbs with small leaves and small flower clusters. Flowers are usually unisexual, wind-pollinated, with three- to four- chambered ovary and a similar number of styles.

Entry link: Haloragaceae


The dense inner part of a tree trunk, yielding the hardest timber.
Entry link: Heartwood


Referring to a plant, with the stems dying back to the ground at the end of the season.
Entry link: Herbaceous


Organism that is being attacked by a parasite or a parasitoid.
Entry link: Host


Mud Snail Family. Comprised of over 260 species of very small, freshwater and brackish water snails with an operculum. Members of this family have a shell height of less than 8mm, are dextrally-coiled and smooth.

Entry link: Hydrobiidae


Frog's-bit or Tape-grass Family. Comprised of 18 genera and about 135 species of submerged and emergent freshwater and saltwater aquatic herbs. They are generally dioecious and produce radially symmetrical flowers.

Entry link: Hydrocharitaceae


Waterleaf Family. A small family with about 250 species that are annual or perennial herbs or shrubs. Most are grown as ornamentals. Members of this family usually have blue or purple flowers, hairy leaves without stipules, and seed capsule containing many seeds.
Entry link: Hydrophyllaceae


Leaf Snail Family. Small to medium-sized air-breathing land snails, terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks.

Entry link: Hygromiidae


Inferior Mouth

A mouth located on the ventral surface of the head and oriented downwards.
Entry link: Inferior Mouth


Cluster or arrangement of flowers of a plant.
Entry link: Inflorescence


A phase between two periods of molting in the development of an insect larva or other invertebrate animal.
Entry link: Instar


A structure that surrounds the base of another structure, often applied to a set of bracts below the inflorescence, as in asters.
Entry link: Involucre


Iris Family. Comprised of 66 genera and around 2,200 species. Most species are native to temperate, subtropical and tropical regions and a few grow in swampy locations. Mostly perennial herbs, though there are a few shrubs and evergreen herbs as well. Members of this family usually have bulbs or other storage organs, long, thin leaves, six petals in two rings, three stamens, and a seed capsule which forms behind the flower.
Entry link: Iridaceae



A relatively narrow and sharp ridge-like area of the ventral or dorsal surfaces or the sides of the caudal peduncle.
Entry link: Keel



(formerly Labiatae) Mint Family. Comprised of 236 genera and more than 7,000 species. Most members are perennial or annual herbs, though some are woody shrubs. Members of this family usually have square stems, leaves in pairs up the stem, flowers in circles round the stem, flowers with hood at the top and lip at the bottom, and aromatic foliage.
Entry link: Lamiaceae


Lance-shaped, much longer than wide and tapering to each end.
Entry link: Lanceolate


Pertaining to immature stage of juvenile insects.
Entry link: Larval

Laterally Compressed

A body shape in which the body depth is more than the body width.
Entry link: Laterally Compressed

Leaf Margin

The edge of a leaf.
Entry link: Leaf Margin


A small, dot-like area of corky tissue on the bark.
Entry link: Lenticel


The collar around the top of the sheath where it meets the blade.
Entry link: Ligule


Lily Family. Comprised of 16 genera and 635 species of herbs and shrubs that are native primarily to temperate and subtropical regions. Members of this family usually have bulbs or other storage organs; long, thin leaves, six petals, six stamens, amd a seed capsule which forms inside the flower.
Entry link: Liliaceae


Loosestrife Family. Comprised of 31 genera and about 650 species of trees, small shrubs and perennial herbs. Members of this family are characterized by the their petals being crumpled in the bud and the many-layered outer integument of the seed.

Entry link: Lythraceae



Hibiscus or Mallow Family. Comprised of about 243 genera and at least 4,225 species of herbs, shrubs and trees. A number of species are considered economically important. Members of this family usually have large flowers with five unjoined petals, stamens and divided style protruding from the center of the flower, and a calyx of five parts with another false calyx below it.
Entry link: Malvaceae


Pepperwort or Water-clover Family. Comprised of 3 genera and about 70 species of small aquatic ferns that root in mud or grow in shallow water. Members of this family are characterized by spore-bearing structures (sporangia) in hard cases (sporocarps) that are produced at or beneath ground level at the bases of the leaves.

Entry link: Marsileaceae


Buckbean Family. Comprised of 5 genera and 40 species of aquatic or marsh herbs that are native to temperate areas of the world. Members of this family often spread vegetatively by creeping underwater rhizomes (stems) and bear floating or emergent leaves.

Entry link: Menyanthaceae


Midwest Invasive Species Information Network

Entry link: MISIN


Banana Family. Comprised of 2 genera and about 50 species native to Africa, Asia and Australia. Members of this family usually have a pseudostem formed from the leaf sheaths, very large leaves, leaves with a thick midrib and parallel veins, separate male and female flowers on the same plant, flowers and fruit in dense bunches, and a fleshy fruit with several hard stony seeds.
Entry link: Musaceae


Marine Mussel Family. Comprised of 54 genera and about 412 species of small to large marine and brackish-water bivalve mollusks.

Entry link: Mytilidae



Water-nymph or Naiad Family. Comprised of 1 genera and about 40 species. Members are typically annual, rarely perennial, herbs that are not rhizomatous and do not have turions.

Entry link: Najadaceae


Sexually immature form usually similar to the adult and found in such insects as grasshoppers and cockroaches, which have incomplete, or hemimetabolic, metamorphosis.
Entry link: Nymph



Longer than wide, with parallel sides, but broad, rather than narrow.
Entry link: Oblong


An ocrea is a membranous sheath around the stem where a leaf attaches.
Entry link: Ocrea


Olive Family. Comprised of 24 genera and about 615 species of woody trees or shrubs. Members of this family have four sepals, four petals, two stamens, and two fused carpets that form a single superior ovary. Many are cultivated for their beautiful and fragrant flowers.

Entry link: Oleaceae


Situated directly across from; as in leaves or branches at the same node.
Entry link: Opposite


Circular in outline.
Entry link: Orbicular


Expulsion of the egg from the oviduct to the external environment.
Entry link: Oviposition


Wood Sorrel Family. Comprised of 5 genera and about 570 species of annual or perennial herbs, shrubs and small trees that are primarily grown as ornamentals. Members of this family usually have flowers with five petals, ten stamens in two rings of five, a superior seed capsule with five parts, and no stipules. They often have a fleshy aril to fling the seed from the pod and often have folded leaflets.
Entry link: Oxalidaceae



With subunits or lobes arising from a single point.
Entry link: Palmate


A branching inflorescence or flower cluster that is broad at the base and tapers towards the top.
Entry link: Panicle


Poppy Family. Comprised of 44 genera and 825 species. Most are annual or perennial herbaceous plants but there are also some woody shrubs and small tropical trees. Members of this family usually have two sepals enclosing the flower bud, which fall off when it opens, four brightly-coloured petals, many stamens and a rounded seed pod forming inside the flower.
Entry link: Papaveraceae


Hairs, scales or bristles on the top of the avary and seed.
Entry link: Pappus


Perch Family. Includes perches, walleyes and darters. Comprised of 11 genera and more than 200 species that prefer fresh and brackish waters of the Northern Hemisphere. Characterized by having a dorsal fin split into two which are normally separated or have a narrow connection.

Entry link: Percidae


Refers to plants that grow consistently between seasons and do not require additional reproduction to continue growth.
Entry link: Perennial


Attached through the underside of the blade near the base, as if passing through the leaf.
Entry link: Perfoliate


Sac-like structure encasing the female flower with a single ovary.
Entry link: Perigynium


The stalk portion of a leaf.
Entry link: Petiole


Northern Lamprey Family. Comprised of 8 genera and about 43 species. Characterized by their elongate, cylindrical shape, no jaw and a disk-shaped mouth. Nonparasitic species live exclusively in freshwater, while parasitic species live in both fresh and marine environments.

Entry link: Petromyzontidae


An involucral bract of flowers in the family Asteraceae.
Entry link: Phyllary


Arranged in two rows along an axil, like barbs on a feather.
Entry link: Pinnate


The female organ of the flower, composed of an ovary, style and stigma.
Entry link: Pistil


The central tissue in a stem or root, surrounded by vascular tissue.
Entry link: Pith


Leadwort Family. Comprised of 10 genera and about 560 species. They are primarily annual or perennial herbs, shrubs and climbers. Members of this family usually have a calyx with five joined sepals, flowers in dense clusters, flowers with five petals, and a superior ovary containing one seed.
Entry link: Plumbaginaceae


(formerly Gramineae) Grass Family. Comprised of about 800 genera and 12,000 species. It is the world's single most important source of food and rank among the top five families of flowering plants in terms of species numbers. They account for 24% of the Earth's vegetation.

Entry link: Poaceae


Phlox Family. Comprised of 18 genera and about 385 species. They are annual or perennial, mostly herbaceous plants but some are woody. Members of this family usually have five joined petals, five stamens, a calyx made of five parts joined into a tube, alternate or opposite leaves, a seed pod with three chambers forming inside the flower and sticky seeds.
Entry link: Polemoniaceae


Smartweed or Buckwheat Family. Comprised of 48 genera and about 1,200 species. Most are perennial, herbaceous plants with swollen nodes but trees, shrubs and vines are also present. Leaves are simple and arranged alternately on the stems.

Entry link: Polygonaceae


Pickerelweed or Water Hyacinth Family. Comprised of 2 genera and about 40 species of mostly perennial, aquatic plants. Members of this family have creeping rootstocks, fibrous roots and leaves in clusters at the base of the plant or borne on branched stems.

Entry link: Pontederiaceae


Pondweed Family. Comprised of 6 genera and about 110 species of aquatic, monocotyledonous flowering plants. Members of this family develop submerged or floating leaves but frequently have emergent flowering shoots.

Entry link: Potamogetonaceae


Primrose Family. Comprised of 58 genera and about 2,600 species. They are mostly grown as ornamentals and include annual or perennial herbs, shrubs, lianas and trees. Members of this family usually have winter storage organs, five petals joined in a tube, five stamens joined to the tube opposite the petals, calyx of five parts joined in a tube, undivided leaves, and a seed pod with one chamber forming inside the calyx.
Entry link: Primulaceae


Description of plants with hair-like growth, commonly found on stems and leaves. These hairs often provide protection against herbivores.
Entry link: Pubescent



A spike-like inflorescence, with stalked flowers arising from a central axis.
Entry link: Raceme

Radial Symmetry

Having similar parts regularly arranged around a central axis.
Entry link: Radial Symmetry


Buttercup Family. Comprised of 62 genera and about 2,252 species. Members of this family are mostly herbs and usually have five coloured sepals instead of petals (except Buttercups), divided leaves, and non-woody tissue (except Clematis).
Entry link: Ranunculaceae


A segmented flexible support element of the fins, often branched at the tip; a cartilaginous fish that is flatten dorsoventrally and usually has a whip-like tail.
Entry link: Ray


Curved backward.
Entry link: Recurved


Buckthorn Family. Comprised of 52 genera and 950 species of shrubs and trees.

Entry link: Rhamnaceae


A creeping stem that grows underground.
Entry link: Rhizome

Root Crown

Area where the major roots meet the trunk or stem of a plant.
Entry link: Root Crown

Root Sucker

A shoot that arises from a root.
Entry link: Root Sucker


Rose Family. COmprised of more than 90 genera and about 2,500 species. Many are of economic importance as food crops and ornamentals. Generally woody plants that are mostly shrubs or small to medium-size trees. Most are armed with thorns, spines or prickles to discourage herbivores. Members of this family usually have woody stems, often with prickles, or trailing stems with runners; simple or compound leaves, often evergreen, stipules at the base of the leaf, large flowers with five petals or clusters of tiny flowers with five petals, and many stamens.
Entry link: Rosaceae


A cluster of leaves or other plant parts arranged in a circle, often at the base.
Entry link: Rosette


Bedstraw or Madder Family. Comprised of 611 genera and more than 13,150 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees. Several species are of economic important as sources of useful chemicals and many are cultivated as ornamentals. Members of this family usually have many small flowers in dense clustered heads, leaves opposite or in whorls, stipules and an inferior ovary.
Entry link: Rubiaceae


A long, creeping stem, that roots at its tips and nodes.
Entry link: Runner



Floating Fern Family. Comprised of 2 genera and about 16 species of floating aquatic plants. Members of this family usually have relatively short stems that appear dichotomously branched, sometimes lacking roots with leaves that are either alternate and 2-lobed with 1 lobe green and floating and the other submerged and white or translucent or in whorls of 3 with 2 leaves unlobed and floating and the 3rd submerged.

Entry link: Salviniaceae


Saxifrage Family. Comprised of 36 genera and about 600 species of mostly perennial, herbaceous plants. Members of this family usually have opposite or alternate leaves, flowers with five unjoined petals, twice as many stamens as petals, and a small seed capsule containing many small seeds.
Entry link: Saxifragaceae


Each of the small, thin horny or bony plates protecting the skin of fish and reptiles, typically overlapping one another.
Entry link: Scale


Figwort Family. Comprised of about 65 genera and 1,700 species. Most are herbaceous, with a few shrubs and climbers and some are semi-parasitic. There are no crop plants of economic importance but is notable for many ornamental garden plants. Members of this family usually have opposite or alternate leaves, flowers in spikes, and irregular flowers with four or five petals.
Entry link: Scrophulariaceae


One of the divisions of the corona, the ring of structures surrounding the petals.
Entry link: Sepal


With sharp, forward pointing teeth.
Entry link: Serrate


Without a stalk.
Entry link: Sessile


Plant part that wraps around another plant part.
Entry link: Sheath


A woody plant which is smaller than a tree and has several main stems arising at or near the ground.

Entry link: Shrub


Elongated seed pod.
Entry link: Silique


Catfish Family. Includes wels and glass catfishes. Comprised of 11 genera and about 170 species that occur across much of Europe and Asia. Characterized by a compressed body; adipose fin is lacking, an anal fin is very long and a short dorsal fin (often lacking) without a spine. 

Entry link: Siluridae


Quassia Family. Comprised of 25 genera of pantropical trees. Members have leaves that alternate along the stem and are composed of a number of leaflets arranged along an axis.

Entry link: Simaroubaceae


In reference to a leaf, not compound.
Entry link: Simple


Nightshade or Potato Family. Comprised of 102 genera and about 2,280 species, many of considerable economic importance as food and drug plants. Members are annual, biennial or perennial and are usually herbs, though some species grow as shrubs or small trees. Members of this family usually have regular flowers with five petals, alternate leaves, five stamens attached to the corolla tube, and a superior ovary containing many yellowish disc-shaped seeds.
Entry link: Solanaceae


An elongate inflorescence with sessile or barely stalked flowers arising from a central stalk.
Entry link: Spike


Sac-like structures which store spores.

Entry link: Sporangia


A small, usually single-celled reproductive body that is produced by non-flowering organisms including ferns and fungi.
Entry link: Spore


A specialized structure in aquatic ferns whose primary function is the production and release of spores.

Entry link: Sporocarp


The male organ of a flower.
Entry link: Stamen


The plant axis that bears buds and shoots with leaves and, at its basal end, roots
Entry link: Stem


One of a pair of appendages at the base of a leaf.
Entry link: Stipule


An elongate, creeping stem (above ground).
Entry link: Stolon


A small style, especially a piercing mouthpart of an insect.
Entry link: Stylet


Growing under water.
Entry link: Submergent

Subterminal Mouth

A mouth oriented and opening somewhat ventrally in which the upper jaw and snout clearly extend beyond the lower jaw.
Entry link: Subterminal Mouth

Supraterminal Mouth

A mouth where the lower jaw slightly projects beyond the upper jaw and mouth tends to open upward.
Entry link: Supraterminal Mouth



The main or central root.
Entry link: Taproot


Tip or end position.
Entry link: Terminal

Terminal Bud

Bud arising from the tip of a stem.
Entry link: Terminal Bud

Terminal Mouth

A mouth opening at the anterior tip of the head in which the upper and lower jaws are approximately the same length with neither one extending beyond the other.
Entry link: Terminal Mouth


With teeth, as in the margin of a leaf.
Entry link: Toothed


Water Chestnut Family. Comprised of 1 genera and 2 species of annual, aquatic, rooted or floating herbs. Members of this family have alternate, floating leaves in rosettes and only present at the upper nodes. They also have submerged roots that are paired but not opposite.

Entry link: Trapaceae


Ending abruptly, as if chopped off.
Entry link: Truncate


A thickening of a rhizome, functioning as a form of food storage and/or for reproduction.
Entry link: Tuber


A small bulb-like structure.
Entry link: Turion



An umbrella-shaped inflorescence.
Entry link: Umbel


Vegetative Reproduction

Asexual reproduction, in which new individuals develop from vegetative parts such as stem or root tissue, rather than seeds or spores.
Entry link: Vegetative Reproduction


Violet Family. Comprised of 23 genera and 800 species that are typically small, perennial, and herbaceous. Most species are shrubs, lianas or small trees. Members of this family usually have alternate leaves with small leafy growths, flowers like violets with five unequal petals and a spur, calyx of five parts, three part seed capsule, and may have cleistogamous flowers.
Entry link: Violaceae


Grape Family. Comprised of 12 genera of woody plants, most of them tendril-bearing vines.

Entry link: Vitaceae


Watch List Species

The invasive species included on a watch list are priority species that have been identified as posing an immediate and significant threat to natural resources. These species have either never been confirmed in Michigan or have very limited distribution or are localized.

Entry link: Watch List Species


A group of three or more similar structures radiating from the same point or node.
Entry link: Whorled


With lignified cell walls; wood-like.
Entry link: Woody

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