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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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B

BACKGROUND EXTINCTIONS

Background extinctions are those extinctions that occur continually throughout time. These extinctions are caused by small changes in climate or habitat, depleted resources, competition, and other changes that require adaptation and flexibility. Most extinctions (perhaps up to 95 per cent of all extinctions) occur as background extinctions.



BACTERIUM

A bacterium (plural bacteria) is a microscopic, prokaryotic, single-celled organism with a cell wall. Bacteria reproduce by binary fission. Bacteria are one ot the earliest forms of life. Some bacteria ( rhizobia) are nitrogen-fixing; they transform nitrogen gas in the atmopshere into a form that can be used by plants.

BADLANDS

Badlands are barren, severely eroded places on Earth where the soft rock layers are sculpted into beautiful forms. These exposed rock layers are often wonderful places in which to find fossils. They're called badlands because the land is useless for farming and many other human purposes.

BAMBOO

Bamboo is a fast-growing monocot grass.

BANANA

The banana tree is an herbaceous plant (because there is no woody tissue in the stem), it is also considered a fruit (because the seeds of the plant are contained within the banana).

BARK

The bark is the outer covering of the trunk, branches, and roots of trees.

BARLEY

Barley is a cereal grain related to wheat, oats, and rice. Barley seeds (the part of the plant that is highest in nutrition) grow in spikes at the tips of the stems - it resembles wheat. This important crop is grown in temperate areas and is used as animal feed, for malt (used in making beer, malted milk, and food flavoring), and for human consumption (used as a flour, a thickener, a cereal, in soups, etc.). Barley was cultivated thousands of years ago; it was grown by the Egyptians from 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. The countries that produce the most barley are Russia, Canada, and Germany. Classification: family Poaceae (Gramineae) (grasses), genus Hordeum, species H. vulgare.
Williamsonia
BENNETTITALEANS

Bennettitaleans, also called cycadeoids, are primitive plants (gymnosperms) that resemble cycads (but they are not cycads), but have different methods of reproduction. Bennettitaleans lived throughout the Mesozoic Era. Examples of bennettitaleans include Williamsonia (Jurassic through end Cretaceous), Williamsoniella (Jurassic through end Cretaceous), and Zamites (Triassic).

BERRY

A berry is a small, juicy, fleshy, stoneless fruit that contains one or many seeds. This simple fruit has a pulpy pericarp surrounding the seed. Some berries include the gooseberry, tomato, currant, and grape.


BIENNIAL

Biennial (meaning "two years") means that it takes two years to complete the full life cycle.

BILATERAL

Bilateral means two sides.


SYMMETRY

Bilateral symmetry (also called symmetry across an axis) is when one side of an object is the mirror image of its other half - i.e., one half has the same shape and size as the other half (for example, most leaves are bilaterally symmetrical).
1,000,000,000

BILLION
A billion is a thousand million. Multicellular life evolved on Earth about a billion years ago.

BINOMIAL NOMENCLATURE

Binomial nomenclature is a system developed by Linnaeus for giving organisms scientific names in which each organism has a genus name (always capitalized) and a species name (not capitalized). For example, the Venus flytrap is Dionaea muscipula, and people are Homo sapiens.

BIODIVERSITY

Biodiversity is the abundance of different plant and animal species found in an environment.

BIOLOGICAL MAGNIFICATION

Biological magnification is the phenomenon in which toxins (poisons) are more and more concentrated in living organisms that are higher up in trophic levels of the food web. For example, if a small amount of toxins is in plants, the animal that eat those plants have a higher concentration of the toxins, and the meat-eaters that eat those plant-eaters have even higher levels of the toxin. The toxins are from pesticides (bug killing chemicals), herbicides (weed-killing chemicals) and waste materials.

BIOMASS

A biomass is the total amount of living material in an area. It is calculated by adding up the weights of all of the organisms.
birch
BIRCH

Birch (genus Betula, many species) are broad-leafed, deciduous trees and shrubs with paper-like bark.

BLADDER

A bladder is a small, air filled sac. Some plants, like bladderwort (a seaweed), have air bladders.

BLADE

A blade is a narrow, flat leaf.

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE

Blue-green algae (also called cyanobacteria) are simple, (usually) one-celled photosynthetic organisms that lack a membrane-bound nucleus (they are prokaryotic). They have a primitive, bacteria-like cell structure (lacking a nucleus and other organelles); although they ahve photosynthetic pigments, they lack chloroplasts (the specialized photosynthetic organelles seen in higher plants). Blue-green algae belong to the kingdom Monera.


BOLIDE

A bolide is a meteor, asteroid, or comet that hits the Earth and explodes.

BOTANIST

A botanist is a scientist who studies plants.

BOTANY

Botany is the scientific study of plants.

BRACT

A bract is a reduced, leaf-like structure that is associated with a flower or a cone.

BRANCH

A branch is a part of a tree or shrub that grows from the trunk or stem.

BROMELIAD

Bromeliads are a group of plants that have stiff, waxy leaves that form a cup-shaped body. This "cup" catches and retains water during wet weather, and the plant uses this water to live through dry spells. Most bromeliads are xerophytes (able to tolerate a dry environment) and epiphytes (living attached to another plant and not rooted in the ground). Classification: Division Magnoliophyta (Angioperms), Class Liliopsida (monocots), Subclass Zingiberidae, Order Bromeliales, Family Bromeliaceae (Bromeliads). Bromeliads were named for the Swedish botanist Olaus Bromelius (1639-1705).

BROWSER

A browser is an animal that eats tall foliage (leaves). Many sauropod dinosaurs, like Brachiosaurus and Ultrasauros, were browsers.

BRYOPHYTES

Bryophytes (Phylum Bryophtya) include the hornworts (Class Anthocerotae), liverworts (Class Hepaticae), and mosses (Class Musci). These low-growing plants do not have true roots, leaves, or stems - they also lack a vascular system (the internal tubes that transport food and water in more advanced plants). Bryophytes probably evolved from green algae; fossils of bryophytes are rare.

BUD

A bud is a small, developing part of a plant that will grow into a flower, a new leaf or a stem.

BUD SCALE

A bud scale is a modified leaf (or similar structure) that covers and protects the bud.

BULB

A bulb is an underground stem, usually globular, that has fleshy leaves emerging from the top and roots emerging from the bottom. The fleshy leaves store food. Examples include the tulip, narcissus, and onion.

BULBEL

A bulbel (also called a bulbet) is a small bulb that grows from another bulb. This is an example of vegetative proagation.

BULBLET

A bulbet (also called a bulbel) is a small bulb that grows from another bulb. This is an example of vegetative proagation.
BURBANK, LUTHER
Luther Burbank (1849-1926) was an American plant breeder who developed over 800 new strains of plants, including many popular varieties of potato, plums, prunes, berries, trees, and flowers. One of his greatest inventions was the Russet Burbank potato (also called the Idaho potato), which he developed in 1871. This blight-resistant potato helped Ireland recover from its devastating potato famine of 1840-60. Burbank also developed the Flaming Gold nectarine, the Santa Rosa plum, and the Shasta daisy. Burbank was raised on a farm and only went to elementary school; he was self-educated. Burbank applied the works of Charles Darwin to plants. Of Darwin's The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Burbank said, "It opened up a new world to me."

BURGESS SHALE

The Burgess shale is an incredibly fossil-rich area in the Canadian Rocky Mountains (in British Columbia). This Lagerstatten (a geological fossil deposit rich with varied, well-preserved fossils) is replete with fossils from the Cambrian Period, roughly 500 million years old. The Burgess shale was discovered in 1909 by Charles Doolittle Wolcott, who was the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. at the time. Fossils from this area include early representatives of most modern groups, including plants, worms, sponges, shrimp-like crustaceans, and jellyfish.

BUTTRESSES

Buttresses are tree trunk supports that help hold up tall trees in rainforests. They are needed to stabilize the tree because the soil is shallow (only a few inches deep) and the tree roots do not penetrate very deeply into the earth.
1,000,000,000


BYA
"bya" is an abbreviation for billions of years ago.
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Plant Printouts
EnchantedLearning.com
Botany and Paleobotany Dictionary
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Plants
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Click on an underlined word for more information on that subject.
If the plant term you are looking for is not in the dictionary, please e-mail us.

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