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Leaf Morphology

Based on Wm. Stearns, "Botanical Latin" (1966)


Solid or Cross Sectional Form

Angular -- Having projecting longitudinal angles. Ridged lengthwise. (Latin, angulosus)

Channelled -- Canaliculate, having a U-shaped cross section. (Latin, canaliculatus)

Fusiform -- Spindle-shaped. Wider or thicker in the middle, tapered at both ends. (Latin, fusiformis)

Gibbous -- Fat, plump. Leaves of succulents are usually gibbous when hydrated. (Latin, gibbus, gibbosus)

Keeled -- Carinate, having a V-shaped cross section. (Latin, carinatus)

Plane -- Perfectly level or flat surface. (Latin, planus)

Spiral -- Twisted like a corkscrew. (Latin, spiralis)

Terete -- Opposite of angular; smoothly rounded. Cylindrical or threadlike. (Latin, teres)

Thread-like -- Slender like a thread. (Latin, filiformis)

Outline Form

Arrow-headed -- Sagittate. Gradually enlarged toward the base, like an arrow head. (Latin, sagittatus)

Cordate -- Heart-shaped. (Latin, cordatus)

Hastate -- Shaped like a halbert head. (Latin, hastatus)

Lanceolate -- narrowly elliptical, tapering equally to both ends. (Latin, lanceolatus)

Linear -- Narrow, with opposite margins parallel. (Latin, linearis)

Lorate -- Moderately long, narrow, and having the opposite margins parallel. Cf. linear. (Latin, loratus, ligulatus)

Oval -- Elliptical, bluntly rounded at each end. (Latin, ellipticus)

Ovate -- Oblong or elliptical, broadest at the base, pointed at the tip. (Latin, ovatus)

Reniform -- Kidney-shaped (Latin, reniformis)

Spatulate -- Spoon-shaped. Oblong with the lower end narrowed, resembling a spoon. (Latin, spatulatus)

Sword-shaped -- Ensiform, lorate, quite straight with an acutely pointed tip. (Latin, gladiatus, ensiformis)

Undulate -- Having wavy margins. (Latin, undulatus)

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Last revised: 30 December 2011
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