Plant Description

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The following sequence is commonly employed during plant description.

HABITAT:

  • It implies whether cultivated as an ornamental plant, a food crop or occurring in a wild state.

HABIT:

  • It deals with classification of plant:
    • According to the length of life:

      • Annual: [Latin annus year] Plants which grow for one season
      • Biennial: Plants which grow for two growing seasons.
      • Perennial: Plants which live for many years and produce seed annually.
    • According to growth, size, soft and woody nature of stem:

      • Herbs: Soft-stem, small in size
      • Shrubs: Woody larger than herbs, bushy in nature, stem branched near the ground.
      • Trees: A Perennial plant with a woody self-supporting main stem or trunk and usu unbranched for some distance above the ground Tall woody having the main stem from which branches arise.
      • Climber: Plants with weak stem, climbs over support by different means.
      • Runner: Plant having a weak stem, retained on the ground.



ROOT:

  • Root may be defined as, “Cylindrical plant organ which is devoid of chlorophyll, bearing no buds or leaves, and tending to grow downloads away from light.” It develops from radical part of the embryo.
  • Roots are Positively Geotropic and Negatively Phototropic ie they grow downward into the soil and away from light.

Phototropism - Forestrypedia

Young Plant Shoots Bending Toward Light (Phototropism)

Since green plants are autotrophic, or able to manufacture their own food from water, carbon dioxide, sunlight, and inorganic molecules, they must grow in areas with available sunlight. In response to this need, green plants are phototropic, or able to grow towards a source of light.

  • Roots are Positively Thermotropic and exhibit Positive Hydrotropism ie they bend in the direction of temperature and have a tendency to grow in the direction of moisture.
  • When a seed germinates, radical gradually elongates and form primary roots. The primary root may give off branches, the secondary roots which in turn branch off to produce tertiary and quaternary roots.
  • In dicotyledonous plants, the primary root becomes the main root and is termed as a taproot. Monocotyledonous plants, generally, lack taproot. In turn, these produce roots from the base of the stem which is strong and vigorous. These roots are known as adventitious roots.

Functions of Root:

  • Anchorage
  • Absorption of food from the soil
  • Store food
  • Absorb moisture
  • Provide shelter to Nitrogen Fixing bacteria.
  • Provide extra support to plant

Modifications of Root:

Fibrous:

A root system in some plants such as grasses that consists of numerous very fine branches of approximately the same length as in grasses like Cynodon dactylon: See fig

Fibrous Roots - Forestrypedia

Fibrous Root

The main root of many plants divides as it grows downward. The branches, called lateral roots, further divide to form a network that anchors the plant in the ground. New growth takes place at the ends of the smallest roots. Tiny root hairs absorb water and nutrients from the soil, channeling them up to the stem and leaves of the plant through the xylem tissue at the center of the root.

Prop/Pillar and Aerial Roots:

A root that grows from the stem of a plant above the ground and helps to support it.

Roots arising from the stem are known as adventitious roots. Such roots may be seen near the base of a corn stem. Adventitious roots formed high up on a stem are termed aerial roots _see fig, or prop roots. Such roots aid in supporting the stem, as in the banyan, the mangrove, and certain orchids.

Prop Pillar or aerial roots - Forestrypedia

Epiphyte

Although similar in structure and function to the roots of plants living in soil, the roots of epiphytes, or air plants, are adapted for growth above the soil surface. Usually growing on the branches or trunks of trees and shrubs, where there is increased access to light, the plants develop aerial roots.

Climbing Roots:

Some plants have roots which twine around the support like tendrils eg in some spp of Ficus and Hedera helix.

Climbing Roots - Forestrypedia

Tuberous:

Thick swollen roots.

Parasitic roots:

Absorbing by penetration to host.

Parasitic Roots - Forestrypedia

Conical:

Root is broad at the base and gradually taper as in Carrot, Reddish, etc

Napiform:

Very much swollen above abruptly taper lower end as in Turnip.

Napiform - Forestrypedia

Nodulated:

Root with small globular swellings belonging to Leguminosae eg Pea, Gram, etc.

Nodulated - Forestrypedia

Stilt root:

Root arising from the lower portion of the stem and run obliquely towards the soil as in Maize, Sugarcane to fix plant into the soil.

Stilt Root - Forestrypedia


STEM:

  • A stem is the main stalk of a plant that bears buds and shoots
  • A stem can be:

Erect or weak:

If weak, prostate or climbing

Special modification:

Rhizome:

Thick, fleshy, elongated, underground stem.

Rhizome - Forestrypedia

Corm:

Thick, fleshy, rounded, underground stem.

Corm - Forestrypedia

Bulb:

It is specialized underground shoot ie onion.

Bulb - Forestrypedia

 

Phylloclade:

Leaf-like stem

Texture:

Herbaceous or woody

Duration:

Annual, biennial or perennial

Surface:

Smooth, waxy, spiny, prickly, glacious, or glabrous (without any projection)

Colour:

Green or dirty green.

Stem - Forestrypedia

Stems

The stem of a plant provides pathways for the distribution of water and nutrients between the roots, leaves, and other parts of the plant. The herbaceous stem of the dandelion (top, center) lacks lignin, the stiffening material in rigid, supportive woody stems. For this reason, herbaceous plants are generally limited in their physical size. Spurges and cacti (bottom, left), their leaves reduced to needles to prevent evaporation in a dry climate, consist entirely of stem material. Tubers, such as potatoes (top, right), are swollen, food-storing, underground stems that nourish growing buds. The stems of some plants are adapted for protection, as in the hawthorn (bottom, right). Others actively compete for sunlight, using touch-sensitive, curling tendrils (top, left) or other structures to climb upwards.



LEAF:

A leaf is a flat green part that grows in various shapes from the stems or branches of a plant or tree and whose main function is photosynthesis.

Leaf - Forestrypedia

Simple Leaf

A simple leaf, such as this example from a maple tree, has a single leaf blade. The netlike pattern of veins visible here is characteristic of dicotyledonous plants.

Insertion:

Attachment of leaves.

a) Insertion: Attachment of leaves

Radical:

Leaves on the lower part of the stem

Cauline:

Leaves on the upper part of the stem

Ramal:

Leaves on stem

Phyllotaxis:

An arrangement of leaves on branches.

Leaf Arrangements - Forestrypedia

Alternate:

Leaves single at node

Opposite or whorled:

Two leaves at one node

Superposed:

If opposite with two formed

Decussate:

If opposite with four row of leaves on vertical view.

Leaf Arrangements1 - Forestrypedia

Stalked: (Petiolated)

Petiolate:

It petiole is present

Sessile:

If petiole is absent

Sub-sessile:

If short petiole is present

Stipulate:

Stipule is the leaf-like outgrowth at the base of the leaf.

Stipulate:

If stipule is present

Exstipulate:

If stipule is not present

Leaf Base:

Sheathing:

If broad

Connate:

Covering branch

Lingulate:

Tongue-shaped

Kind:

Simple:

If lamina is in one piece

Acicular:

Needle-like as in pines

Subulate:

Long, narrow stiff gradually taper as in Juniper

Linear:

Flat, long narrow as in grasses

Lanceolate:

Lance-shaped

Oval:

Lanceolate but shorter and broader

Ovate:

Egg-shaped as in Banyan

Cordate:

Heart shaped notched base

Obcordate:

Heart shaped narrow at the base.

Hastate:

Base bilobed, lobes directed outward

Sagittate:

Like arrowhead, base bilobed directed downward

Leaf - Simple - Forestrypedia

Compound:

If lamina is divided into no of leaflets.

Leaf Kind - Forestrypedia

Compound Leaf

Compound leaves, although they appear to be a collection of many leaves, arise from a single bud. The leaflets fall as a group in the autumn. The leaf pictured here is from a Hercules’ club. It is pinnately compound (with paired, equally sized leaflets arising from a central blade), and doubly so, with leaflets attached to matching side stalks. The leaflets of palmately compound leaves, such as those of the horse chestnut family, radiate from a single point.

Palmate:

When leaflets come of at tip of petiole

Pinnate:

When leaflets arise from the side of rachis

Paripinnate:

Leaflets number even

Imparipinnate:

When leaflets are odd

Leaf - Compound - Forestrypedia

Venation:

The arrangement of veins and veinlets

Unicostate:

If single midrib in the lamina

Multicostate:

If more than one midribs are present

Reticulate:

If veins form a network

Parallel:

If veins run parallel

Monocot Leaf - Forestrypedia

Monocot Leaf

Leaves of monocotyledonous plants, such as the palm pictured here, usually have parallel leaf veins. Dicots show netlike venation. Palm leaves, native to windy environments with little rainfall, have tough leaves that resist drying out.

The margin of Lamina:

Entire:

Perfectly even

Dentate:

Margin with sharp teeth

Serrate:

Margin with small sharp teeth

Crenate:

Margin with round teeth

Bidentate:

Margin with teeth which are further divided into dentate, crenate, or serrate manner.

Spiny:

Margin with spines

Hairy:

Margin with hair

Incised:

With more or less deep incision.

Apex:

Tip of leaf

Leaf Apex - Forestrypedia

Accuminate:

Tip suddenly narrow eg Peepal

Acute:

Tapering to form an acute angle

Obtuse:

Tip round

Cuspidate:

Prolonged into sharp, stiff spine like eg Yucca

Truncate:

Flat apex

Mucronate:

Tip abruptly ends in a small pointed projection eg Cassia fistula

Emarginate:

Deep notched at the tip of midrib

Retuse:

Slightly notched at tip

Pine Needles - Forestrypedia

Pine Needles

The blue pine has needles that grow in bundles of five. Pine needles are actually highly modified leaves that are not shed each year and can remain on the tree for long periods. Each needle has a tough outer layer called the cuticle, which in turn has a waxy coating that helps prevent water loss.


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Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani

NJMH is working as Deputy Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu (techurdu.net) Forestrypedia (forestrypedia.com), Majestic Pakistan (majesticpakistan.pk), All Pak Notifications (allpaknotifications.com), Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

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