Biological Terminology

I am using a new forum for this topic.
I hope it will be a place where terminology relevant to our interests can be posted.

My first contribution is not a wildlife observation per se, but does concern accuracy of botanical labelling.

The context is: The instructions say “Cut off the top”, when to my way of thinking, it is the bottom that has to be cut off.
As I said, not wildlife but an example of where the instruction is, botanically speaking, wrong.

Pine-needles are leaves, as are Dionaea and Utricularia traps, and Nepenthe and Sarracenia pitchers, but Ruscus and Zygocactus cladodes and Lathyrus aphaca phyllodes aren’t.


Thanks lavateraguy, this is exactly what I envisaged this forum might be used for.

It’s an absolutely massive subject - almost every order of animals has specific terminology. It might be more helpful to post links to other places where the topic is dealt with. If others agree with this approach, I could probably find a few.

e.g. for bird topography: Topography - BirdForum Opus | BirdForum

Yes, I think links to sites with specific terminology would be useful.

Yesterday I hadn’t anticipated it being other than an iSpot specific forum where, as when Lavateraguy has given us a useful comment in an Observation of ‘leaves’ and ‘not leaves’, it could be referred to. Today it has evolved.

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This is probably a bit too much information but if you are interested in isopods, there’s a lot of stuff here about morphology.

Though I can’t find it now, I’m fairly sure that I suggested somewhere in these forums that a useful addition to the site would be a set of labelled diagrams, essentially a pictorial glossary, showing the main parts of each species group (or sub-group) to help describing what we see … and understanding the descriptions posted by our betters. Perhaps an idea worth following up?


Dont ask a botanist to make a fruit salad


There needs to be an Indexed Item on the home page …ha!
It should lead with a click to useful websources
Would you like to suggest some and I will add them to * :star:SOME iLinks​:star:
Beetle & Plant Glossary are already there but some might be too detailed
Think Keys and ID Guides and help me help iSpot

Fruit, nut and berry are three terms where botanical and general usage differ.

I have a (lengthy) docx of botanical terms, but it won’t upload in text format.

Wiki does quite well

Non illustrated (USA)

For an unstructured list, wiktionary is not bad.

I also have a short list of digitised botanical dictionaries. (I haven’t recorded where they came from, so you’d have to do a search for them. Likely sources are Google Books, Internet Archive, and Biodiversity Heritage Library.)

  • J. Berkenhout, Botanical Lexicon (1764)
  • T. Martyn, The Language of Botany (1796)
  • S. Drejer, Laerebog i den botaniske terminologie og systemlaere (1839)
  • Henslow, Dictionary of Botanical Terms (1857)
  • A.A. Crozier, A Dictionary of Botanical Terms (1896)
  • B.D. Jackson, A glossary of botanic terms (1905)
  • H. Ashby & et al, German English Botanical Terminology (1938)
  • H.I. Featherley, Taxonomic Terminology of the Higher Plants (1954)
  • C. Váczy, Lexicon Botanicum Polyglottum (1980)

Useful, thanks
I have already included a couple of the WikiOnes.
I’ll check the others - they are mostly books I think

In response to NTs request on Delesseia sanguinea cystocarps, “ *I’ve scoured google for some sort of photo of the cystocarps on D.sanguinea but haven’t located anything”, I am posting this page from

Newton. I have several copies, they’re cheap and very informative.

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Thank you very much indeed, Jo! I’m going to look for the book, too!

You can see dejay’s Birthday tribute to Lily Newton here: