UACES Facebook Glossary of Horticultural Ornamental Terms
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Glossary of Horticultural Ornamental Terms

The following list is made up of terms used in the Horticultural Ornamentals field.

Term Definition
bract technically a modified leaf that often looks like colorful flower petals. Good examples are the white/pink bracts of Eastern Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) and the red/pink/white bracts of poinsettia. In both cases the colorful parts are modified leaves, and in fact, not flower petals.
cultivar technically, it means a cultivated variety. In practical terms, while walking in the woods a person selects one white-flowered redbud (see Variety) that was very short in height. Then the person vegetatively (made exact copies) propagated that dwarf plant and made it a commercially available cultivar called ‘Dwarf White’.
culture the conditions (i.e. soil, sun exposure, moisture) a plant prefers or does not do well in.
deciduous plants that lose their leaves in the fall. Contrast this to evergreen.
dioecious each sex is confined to a separate plant (i.e. a plant has either all male flowers or the plant has all female flowers). Examples include ginkgo, honeylocust, and most hollies.
drupe a botanical term for a specific type of fruit. In simple terms they often look like a ‘berry’.
evergreen plants that retain their leaves for longer than one year. People often forget that these plants eventually do lose their leaves. Evergreens can have a wide leaf (broadleaf evergreen such as Southern magnolia) or they can have needles (needle evergreens such as our native baldcypress)
form refers to the typical plant shape or habit. For example, weeping willow has a weeping or cascading form and tuliptree has an upright oval form.
habit same as ‘form
hybrid a genetic cross of some kind. Could be a cross between two different species  (interspecific hybrid; Magnolia x soulangiana is a result of crossing two different Magnolia species) or it could be two different genera (intergeneric cross; X Cupressocyparis leylandii, Leyland Cypress, is the result of crossing two different genera: Cupressus x Chamaecyparis).
naturalize typically exotic/non-native plants that mix or blend with the native plants.
naturalizing a more natural, or less formal, looking landscape or garden
panicle a botanical term for a specific type of inflorescence (collection of flowers). Panicles are often cone- or dome-shaped.
raceme like the term panicle, this is a botanical term for specific type of inflorescence (collection of flowers). In this case flowers are born on short stalks off a main axis. This is in contrast to a ‘spike’ in which case the flowers are directly attached to that main axis.
species a botanical term that refers to a group of plants that can interbreed freely and share many similar characteristics. The genus Magnolia, is made up of many species including M. stellata, M. grandiflora, M. virginiana, etc.  Stellata, grandiflora, virginiana are all species of Magnolia.
trade the nursery or garden center industry
variety a botanical term to identify a distinct subdivision of a plant species that differs in some plant characteristic such as plant shape, leaf color, flower color, etc. For example, the majority of Eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis) have pink/purple flowers, however, a small number of individuals in the wild have white flowers. That small group of white-flowered redbuds is collectively called a variety (Cercis canadensis var. alba).