Ask a Question forum: Was Roget a lover of plants as well as words?

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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
May 10, 2014 9:12 AM CST
Thesauraus for botanical terms - does one exist?

I was wondering if there was a list of botanical terms for the average idiot (me) where I can plug in my simple everyday language to obtain the correct/accepted botanical terms? Similar to a Roget's Thesaurus where I can look up the word 'chubby' and find other words to describe a fat person (me again, but I am slowly slimming, currently at 197 lbs.) to find other words with the same meaning such as 'rotund', 'portly', stout' ,and my favorite 'big-boned', etc. - only I need to find the correct botanic terms for the everyday words.

Examples:
The plant has white flowers = Alba
There are some hairs on the plant = Pubescent or pubescence,
and so on.

(Once I find the correct botanical terms I will be able to use the almighty identification 'keys', which will actually be my next question.)
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Plant Identifier
growitall
May 10, 2014 9:24 AM CST
One of my best book purchases ever is one called Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary by James Harris and Melinda Harris.
First is the glossary, in which every botanical term is defined and - here's the really good part - illustrated with a small line drawing!
Then there are sections on terminology by category - stems, flowers, leaves, fruits, etc. - again, all illustrated.
It was not terribly expensive (about $14 if I recall correctly) and is excellent.

Having a glossary like this is really a must if you really want to get to the point of keying out plants.
You may be able to find a good book of the flora for your area (e.g. for my area, Flora of Alberta) - these will usually include a glossary section, not normally illustrated, unfortunately.
The Harris illustrated glossary is a huge help and I highly recommend it.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
May 10, 2014 1:19 PM CST
Here's a link that specifically mentions using Harris's work as a resource. I use this site a lot.

http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/botanicalterms.html

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
May 10, 2014 1:38 PM CST
Thank You! Thank you both for the answers. I will begin hunting for those and similar books in the coming weeks.
The books suggested require me to already know the word in order to find the meaning. Eventually after reading the entire book, I may get to the work I am seeking. Is there a reverse-type list anywhere? I don't know what other name to call it than a 'thesaurus for botanical terms'.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
May 10, 2014 4:43 PM CST
Greene ...

I just Googled "Dictionary of botanical terms" and happened to come up with a site I use a lot.

You can always Google "Anatomy of "XXXX" plant" and you will generally get a list of several horticultural sites. Often these sites are maintained by universities with horticultural or agriculture departments.

Note: They are dangerous sites ...not really Smiling It's just that once you start reading about something, you start reading about something else, and then you read further and hours have gone by ... Smiling

They often list good books to read to study various aspects of botany.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Plant Identifier
growitall
May 10, 2014 5:25 PM CST
greene said:
The books suggested require me to already know the word in order to find the meaning... Is there a reverse-type list anywhere?

I get your point, and that is a useful thing, to be sure. The usual course of events is trying to identify a plant (keying it out), starting by comparing it to some botanical descriptions that use the words in the glossary...
If, instead, you are going to describe plants in scientific detail (rather than compare them to existing descriptions), then that reverse-list would be especially necessary, but that's not the usual way it goes. If you get what I mean... Smiling
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
May 10, 2014 5:30 PM CST
I also have the same book Lori mentions. It's excellent! Big Grin

Do remember that there are many botanical terms that seem the same, but individual meanings are separate.
---- For instance, pubescent, tomentose, strigose, hirsute, hispid, canescent, wooly, lanate: they all mean "hairy" to some degree. But each has a particular twist on the description that is necessary for accurate botanical description. Understanding these subtleties can be critical when using plant ID keys.
---- So having just a thesaurus list of similar botanical words would be very misleading, unless one could somehow know the differences between the listed words. That's where a glossary like the aforementioned Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary comes in handy.

Now a Botanical-English Thesaurus/English-Botanical Dictionary, that would be pretty cool. One could then look up the word "white" in the English-Botanical part, see the related botanical terms, and then cross-reference those words in the Botanical-English part to see which botanical term for "white" is most appropriate for the purpose.

As close to this as I know would still be the same plant identification terminology book previously mentioned. It has separate sections devoted to parts of the plant, like leaves, surfaces, stems, roots or flowers. You wouldn't have to read the whole book to look for words that mean "smooth", for example.
[Last edited by Leftwood - May 10, 2014 5:47 PM (+)]
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
May 10, 2014 9:14 PM CST
@RoseBlush1 described perfectly the 'little problem' I am having - I start researching and get lost having such a good time - each link leads to another until three hours later I actually forgot the original purpose of the search (my poor dog is so neglected). Sure it's hours of fun, but in the end I am no closer to the word I need to find and the dog pees on my car tires to get even.

Take for example the edges of a leaf - I would say 'looks like it was cut with pinking shears' - not very botanical, I know, and how many people even remember what pinking shears are/were? - , but heck, a person has to start somewhere! So I learn that one term to describe such a leaf would be 'serrate' but I also learn that it's not the 'edge' of the leaf but rather the 'margin'. Back up and start again..."slowly, slowly...".

For the people who studied this in college/at university it seems simple enough, but I am starting from scratch. So Thank You! Thank You! to those of you who answered. I'll start by buying several books with a glossary (yep, I even had to look that word up to see what it means Rolling on the floor laughing ) and eventually it will start to sink in. Maybe someone will see this thread and be inspired to compile the information to create a 'botanical thesaurus'. Hilarious! Hope they remember to include me on the acknowledgement page.

@Leftwood, yes I agree that one needs to differentiate between the meanings. For the example you listed only hirsute and wooly (or is it woolly?) looked like 'hairy' to my brain - so much to learn Confused ; I am trying to re-train my brain to absorb the new information. Each day I learn at least one new thing....hope I live long enough! Thank You!
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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RoseBlush1
May 10, 2014 9:34 PM CST
@Greene ...

My rose mentor was one of those guys that spoke in botanical terms all of the time. He did not dumb it down for me ... oh, have mercy ... Rolling my eyes. Yes, he spoke in terms of crosses, lineage and classes of roses, too. He might as well have been speaking in a foreign language. Actually, it is a foreign language ... Smiling

I bought a used book called Botany for Gardeners: An Introduction and Guide by Brian Capon. It was a great starting point. (Of course, I had to buy a lot of non-picture rose books, too, to understand the rest of what Kim was talking about, but that's because we were dealing with a specific plant genera.)

Capon's book gave me enough information to get started and a pretty good overview. It wasn't so technical that I couldn't grasp the concepts. I am certain there are probably other books out there that work well for someone just starting down this path, but this is the one I found.

I can tell you this, no matter how much I've studied, I still feel like a novice and that I have a lot to learn. In fact, I have more questions now than I had when I started, so there's no end to the learning curve for me.

Smiles,
Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
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RickCorey
May 12, 2014 5:22 PM CST
Lettuce seems to bring out the poet in people ... or should I say, the marketing writer?

1. wavy, curled, curly, wrinkled, crinkled, crumpled, savoyed, puckered,

2. waved edges, undulate margins, frilled edges, frilly edges,

I suspect that the last three terms have specific meanings, so I'll try some research.
Thanks, Lyn for:
http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/botanicalterms.html

3. incised, indented, serrated,

==
- incised:
"cut, often deeply, usually irregularly, but seldom as much as one-half the distance to the midrib or base "
http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/botanicalterms.html

3. Deeply and sharply cut: the incised margin of a leaf.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

4. (Botany) having margins that are sharply and deeply indented: an incised leaf.
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged ©

===
- indented
no definition in http://www.calflora.net/botanicalnames/botanicalterms.html

to indent:
a. To notch or serrate the edge of; make jagged.
??


==
- serrated
"Serrate: having sharp, forward-pointing teeth on the margin
Serrulate: serrate with very small teeth"


I found some that were new to me, WITH illustrations:

retrorse,
said of marginal spines, barbs, stem hairs or any protuberances that are bent abruptly backward
or point towards the proximal part of the organ; = pointed downwards or recurved;

revolute,
rolled or curled over backwards, towards the abaxial
surface. OPPOSITE: involute

lacerate
, irregularly lobed at the margin, as if torn

laciniate
, cut into slender lobes or drawn-out teeth

http://www.kew.org/ucm/groups/public/documents/document/ppco...
(But I could only download K through R.)

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