Botanical root meanings as compiled from website

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Botanical root meanings as compiled from website:

Glossary of Roots of Botanical Names

Glossary Copyright © 1998-2003 Karen Fletcher


Some word parts ("arizon-" and "terminal-") are (or should be ) obvious; others which seem obvious may be a case of "faux-amis" ("false friends"), as they say in French: Alpinia, a genus in the ginger family is NOT named for alpine regions, but rather for one Propser Alpinus, an Italian physician.
I have not attempted to cover all forms of which a word-part might par- take, and I have purposefully varied the Latinized endings, even when I couldn't think of having encountered an example of, say, the neuter ending ("um") of a word-part. I've not given all POSSIBLE forms and endings for each part, rather my attempt has been to show (especially to the novice to all this "double-talk") the variety AMONG endings and hope that he will get a feel for not only the use of the word part but also its possible permutations, so that when he sees the word "procera" or "procerus" or "procerum," he will recognize it as meaning "tall," and when he encounters "bifrons" he will be able to put two parts together and get "two" and "leaf."
And I've not even THOUGHT about including parts which honor proper names, such as "schottii, bernardii, farnesiana, berlandieri" etc. Most are somewhat obvious, and probably nothing to be done about those that aren't - except make this ditty many times its present length!.
Most word parts here cited are usually prefixes and are denoted with the dash FOLLOWING the part; a few are mostly suffixes and, therefore, are cited with the dash preceding the part.) With suffixes, the desig- nation, "(...)" indicates that it is seldom the actual ending of the descriptive, and that it usually has one of the endings listed below.
Endings of the descriptives are usually Latinized, and the most common Latinized endings are: -a











Roots: A
a- (an-) = without, lacking (anacanthus = spineless; amorpha = without a definite form; Arachis = without a rachis, the peanut genus / apetalus = without petals / aphyllus = without leaves / apterus = without a wing)
abr- = delicate (Abrophyllum = delicate leaved)
acanth- = referring to a thorn, spines (Acanthus) (acanthoides = Acanthus-like / chrysanthicum = golden-spined)
-ace(...) = partaking of (rosaceus / rosaceum = rosy)
acaul- = stemless (caul = stem) (acaulis)
acephal- = headless, without a head (ceph = head) (acephalus)
acerb- = harsh, bitter, stinging (acerbifolia)
acer- = referring to the genus, Acer, the ancient Latin name of the maple tree (aceroides = Maple-like)
aceros- = needle-like (acerosus)
acet- = referring to acid (acetophylla = acid + leaf)
acicul- = referring to a needle (acicularis = needle-like)
acin- = referring to a saber (shape) (acinitus / acinaceus)
acri- = acrid, sharp (acris / acrifolia = sharp-leaved)
acro- = referring to the top of an entity, height (Acrocomia = hair at the top, a palm genus with pinnate leaves)
actin- = referring to a ray (Actinidia, the Kiwi Fruit; cut one across and see the rayed arrangement of the carpels (ovaries)) (actinophylla = Rayed leaves)
aculeat- = sting, prickle (aculeatus)
acuminat- = pointed, tapering (acuminatus)
acut- = acute, sharp (acutissima = very pointed / acutangulatus = acute + angle / acutifidus = acutely cut / acutifolius = sharp + leaf / acutus)
ad- = to, on, onto (adnatum = joined to / adpressus = pressed against)
adeno- = referring to a gland (Adenophora = gland-bearing) (adenophylla = glandular leaf)
adnat- = joined (adnatus)
adven- = adventive (advenuus)
aequi- / equi- = equal (aequinoctialis = equinox, )
aer- = referring to the air (aeranthos = air flower)
aethiopi- = referring to Ethiopia - or Africa in general (aethiopium)
aestiv- = referring to summer (aestivus)
affin- = related (affinis / affine)
agerat- = referring to the genus Ageratum (ageratifolia = Ageratum-like leaves)
aggreg- = clustered, aggregated (aggregatus)
agr- = referring to fields or farms (agrarius / agrestis)
alat- = winged or wing-like (alatus)
alb- = white (albiflorens = white-flowered / albidum / albomaculatum = white-spotted / albicans / albicaulis = white-stemmed)
alli- = referring to the genus Allium which contains the onion, garlic, leeks, etc. (alliacea)
alpestr- = alpine (alpestris)
alpin- = referring to alpine regions (alpinus)
altai- = Siberian (altaicus)
altern- = alternate (alternifolia)
alt- = referring to height (altus / altissimus = very tall)
amabil- = lovely (amabilis)
amar- = bitter (amara)
amethysti- = violet-colored (amethysticus)
amoen- = charming, lovely (amoena)
ampel- = referring to a vine (Ampelopsis = like a vine)
amphi- = both, two (amphibius)
amphor- = referring to an urn, a pitcher (amphoricaulis = stem shaped like a pitcher)
amplexi- = clasping (amplexicaulis = clasping the stem)
ampl- = ample, large (amplissimus = very large)
ampul- = referring to a flask (shape) (ampullacea)
amurensis = hailing from Siberia
amygdal- = almond-like (amygdalinus)
anatol- = referring to Asia Minor (anatoliensis)
anceps = two-edged
andi- = referring to the Andes (andicola / andinus)
andr- = referring to the male part, usually the anthers (androgynus = male + female parts, indicating that both male and female flowers are found on the plant)
anemo- = referring to wind (Anemone = wind flower)
angli- = English (anglicum)
angui- = referring to a snake (shape) (anguinus)
angul- = referring to an angle (angularis / angulatus / angulosus)
angust- = narrow (angustus / angustifolia = narrow leaved)
anis- = unequal (Anisacanthus = unequal thorns)
annu- = annual (annuus)
annul- = ringed, annular (annularis / annulatus)
anomal- = anomalous, unusual, abnormal (anomalus)
anth- = referring to a male part (the anther), - a flower (Anthurium = flower + tail)
anti- = against (Antiacantha = against the spine - a bromeliad)
antill- = referring to the West Indies, Antilles (antillaris)
antipod- = referring to the Antipodes or the polar regions (antipodus)
antiqu- = ancient (antiquorus / antiquus)
apenn- = referring to the Apennines Mts. (Italy) (apenninus)
apert- = open, uncovered, bare (apertus)
apiculat- = with a point (apiculatus)
appendic- = referring to an appendage (appendiculatus)
applanatum = flattened
applicatus = joined, attached
aqu- = referring to water (habitat) (aquatica / aquatilis / aqueus)
aquil- = eagle-like (aquilegia / aquilinus)
arab- = referring to Arabia (arabicus)
arachn- / aran- = referring to spiders (araneosa / arachnoides = like a spider)
arbor- = referring to trees (arborescens / arboricola / arborea)
arbus- = referring to a tree (arbusculus)
archont- = majestic, noble (Archontophoenix = majestic (date) palm)
arct- = referring to a bear (Arctotis = bear's ear)
arcuat- = referring to a bow (shape) (arcuatus)
arec- = referring to the genus Areca (palms) which, itself comes from a Malaysian word meaning, a cluster of nuts (arecoides = Areca-like)
arena- = referring to sand (arenarius)
areol- = with an aereole, pitted (areolatus)
arg- = referring to silver (argentea / argentatum / argophyllus = silver-leaved / argyraeus)
argut- = sharp, pointed (argutus)
arist- = referring to a beard (hairy, bristly) (aristatus / aristosus)
arma- = armed (armatus)
arom- = referring to odor (aromatica)
arrect- = erect (arrectus)
articul- = jointed, articulate (articulatus)
arund- = referring to a reed (Arundinaria, the giant native reed) (arundinaceus
arven- = referring to cultivation (arvensis)
ascendens = ascending
asper- = rough (aspera / asperata / asper / aspericaulis = rough-stemmed / asperrimus = very rough)
assimil- = like unto (assimilis)
assurg- = sprawling, clambering (assurgens)
astr- = referring to a star (Astrocaryum, star-nut, referring to the markings on the seeds of this palm genus)
-astr(...) = like unto (liliastrum = like a lily)
ater = black
atr- = extreme, dark (atropurpurea = deep purple) (atratus = black / atrorubens = dark red / atrovirens = dark green)
attenu- = attenuated, drawn-out to a point (attenuatus)
attic- = Greek (atticum)
august- = august, noble, majestic (augusta)
aurant- = referring to the color orange (Citrus aurantifolia, the lime (go figger!); aurantifolia = orange-leaved / auranticus)
aure- = golden (aureus / aurespina = golden-spined)
auri- = referring to an ear (shape) (auritum / auriculatum)
austr- = southern, Australian (australis)
avi- = referring to a bird, birdlike (avium / aviculare)
axill- = referring to axils (axillaris)
azur- = referring to the color blue (azureum)
Roots: B
bacc- = referring to berries (baccata / baccifera = berry-bearing)
balear- = referring to the Balearic Islands (balearica)
bambus- = referring to bamboo (bambusoides = like bamboo)
barbar- = foreign (barbarus)
barbadensis = native to Barbados
barbat- = bearded (barbatus)
barbi- = referring to beards or barbs (barbigera = bearing barbs)
basil- = royal (basilicum) ALSO basal (basilaris)
bell- = handsome, pretty (bellus / bellatus)
benghalensis = native to the State of Bengal in India
betul- = referring to the beech tree genus, Betula, the ancient Latin name of the tree (betuloides = like a beech)
bi- = referring to the number two, twice (bipinnatus = twice-pinnate / bicarinatus = two-keeled / bicornis = two-horned / bicolor = two- colored / bifidus = two + cut / bifurcatus = two + forked)
-bi(...) = referring to life (Dendrobium = tree + life, because this orchid genus is epiphytic on trees)
bienn- = biennial (biennis)
bifurcat- = twice-forked (bifurcata)
bland- = mild, pleasant (blanda)
-blast(...) = referring to an embryo (Rhopaloblaste = club-shaped embryo)
blephar- = referring to an eyelash, therefore, fringed (blepharophylla = fringed leaves)
bombyc- = referring to silk (bombycina)
bon- = good (bonus / bona-nox = good/beautiful night)
boreal- = northern (borealis)
botry- = referring to a cluster (botryoides = cluster-like)
brach- = referring to a branch or an arm (brachiatus)
brachy- = short, squat (brachypodum = short foot)
bract- = referring to bracts (bracteata) - a bract is a leaf-like OR petal-like structure beneath the true petals of some flowers (bracteosum)
brevi- = short (brevis / brevicaulis = short-stemmed / brevispina = short-spined / brevipes = short-footed, stalked / brevirostris = short- beaked / brevisetus = short-bristled)
brun- = brown (brunneus)
bry- = referring to moss (bryoides)
bucephalus = ox-headed
bulb- = referring to a bulb (bulbosa / bulbifera = bulb-bearing)
bullat- = swollen (bullatus)
Roots: C
caes- = referring to the color blue (caesia)
caespi- = tufted, growing in a clump (cespitosus)
caffr- = referring to a region of S. Africa
cal- = beautiful (calophylla = beautiful leaf)
calabri- = referring to S. Italy (calabricus)
calam- = referring to a reed (calamifolia / calamus)
calath- = referring to a basket (Calathea)
calcarat- = referring to spurs (calcaratus)
calcare- = referring to lime (calcareus)
calceol- = referring to slipper (shape) (calceolatus)
callos- = thick, calloused (callosum)
calyc- = referring to a flower's calyx (calycina)
calypt- = referring to a covering (Euphoria = carried well)
cambr- = referring to Wales
campan- = referring to a bell (Campanula) (campanulatum)
campestr- = referring to fields (campestris)
canal- = referring to lines, grooves (canaliculatus)
canariensis = referring to the Canary Islands - native to
candi- = hoary, white (candicans / candida)
cantabr- = referring to a part of Spain (cantabrius)
cana = referring to the color white or gray (cana)
canescens = gray (or white) and somewhat hairy
capens- = referring to the Cape of Good Hope (or ANY cape region) (capensis / capense)
capill- = referring to a hair, thread (capillarius / capillare / capilliformis = formed like a hair / capillipes+ = hair-like foot/stalk)
capit- = referring to the head (usually to the flower cluster) (capitatum)
cappadoc- = referring to a part of Eastern Europe and Western Asia (cappadocicum)
capr- = referring to a goat (capricornis = goat's horn / pes-caprae = foot + goat / caprea)
capreol- = twining, twisting (Bignonia capreolatus)
caput = a head (caput-medusae = Medusa's head)
card- = referring to a heart (Cardiospermum = heart seed)
-card(...) = referring to a heart (Anacardium, the cashew genus, referring to the heart-shaped fruit)
caric- = referring to a part of Asia Minor (carica / Ficus carica = the common fig)
carin- = referring to a keel (carinata)
carn- = referring to flesh (usually the color) (carnea incarnata / carnosa)
carolin- = referring to the Carolinas (caroliniensis) OR in honor of the name Charles or Carol)
-carp(...) = referring to a fruit (megacarpus = big fruited / macrocarpon = large fruit)
carpath- = referring to the Carpathian Mts. Region of Europe
cartilag- = referring to cartilege (cartilagineum)
cary- = referring to a nut (Caryota, the fishtail palm genus)
cathart- = cathartic (cathartica)
cathay- = referring to China (cathayensis)
caud- = referring to a tail (caudatus)
caul- = referring to a stem (cauliflorus = bearing flowers on the stem / caulescens)
-caul(...) = referring to a stem, trunk (albicaulis = white-stemmed)
cep- = referring to a head (Cephalanthus = flowers in a head /
-cep(...) = referring to a head (multiceps = many-headed)
cer- = referring to wax (cerifera = wax-bearing; the genus Cereus, because of the wax-candle body shapes of most of the species / cerefolium = wax-leaved)
cera- = referring to a horn (ceratiformis = in the form of a horn / platyceras = broad/flat horn)
ceras- = referring to a cherry (cherry-like) (laurocerasus = specific name of the Cherrylaurel, the genus being Prunus (ancient Latin for the plum))
cerc- = referring to a tail (Cercocarpus = tailed fruit, the Mountain Mahogany genus, in the Rose family, whose fruit (hips) DO have little tails)
cernu- = bending, drooping (cernuus)
ceylan- = referring to Ceylon (Sri Lanka)
chaen- = open, split (Chaenomeles = split fruit)
chaet- = referring to a hair or bristle (chaetophylla = bristle-like leaves)
chalcedon- = referring to a part of Asia Minor, including Greece and Turkey
chamae- = dwarf, low (Chamaedorea = dwarf gift, a palm genus, refer- ring to the fact that most species are of short stature and, therefore, their fruit ((the gift)) is found at relatively low heights)
cheil-/ chil- = referring to a lip or margin (Chilopsis = like a lip, referring to the flaring, trumpet-shaped flowers) (Cheilanthes = lip + flower)
chen- = referring to a goose (Chenopodium = goose + foot)
-chi(...) = referring to snow (Hedychium = sweet snow referring to the fragrant white flowers of this member of the ginger family)
chinensis = referring to China
chit- = referring to a covering, a cloak (Rhodochiton = rosy covering)
-chlamy(...) = referring to clothes (chlamydea = clothed, covered)
chlor- = referring to the color green (chloranthus = green- flowered)
chrys- = yellow, golden (Chrysanthemum = golden flower) (chrysocoma = golden hair)
-cid(...) = referring to the act (or art) of killing (Piscidea = fish + kill, the Fish Poison Tree)
cili- = ciliate, hairy (ciliatus)
cinct- = girded, girdled (cinctus)
ciner- = referring to ashes (ash-colored) (Cineraria refers to the ash-colored leaves)
cinnabar- = referring to cinnabar, a reddish mineral (cinnabarinus)
circin- = coiled (circinnatus)
cirrh- = referring to a thread, a tendril (Cirrhopetalum, an orchid, = tendril-like petals)
ciss- = referring to an ivy (Cissus)
citr- = referring to citrus (citrifolia = leaves having a citrus-like odor / citrinum)
clad- = referring to a branch (Cladanthus = branch + flower)
clav- = referring to a club (clavatus)
cleist- / cleis- = closed (Cleisostoma = closed mouth, referring to the flower shape / Cleistocactus = closed + cactus)
clin- = inclined (Clinostigma = inclined stigma)
clyt- = beautiful, marvelous (Clytostoma = beautiful mouth, re- ferring to the flaring, trumpet-shaped flowers of this genus)
cocc- = referring to a seed or berry (coccifera = bearing berries / Chiococca = snow berry)
coccin- = red (coccineus)
cochl- = referring to a spoon, a spade (Cochlearia, referring to leaf shape) (cochlearis)
cochli- = referring to a spiral (Cochliostema = spiral stamens)
coco- = referring to a monkey (fr. Portuguese) (Cocos nucifera = the coconut palm, whose nut (fruit) with its three eyes looks to some like a monkey's face - nucifera = nut-bearing)
-codon = referring to a bell (Platycodon = broad bell-shaped)
coel- = hollow (Coelogyne = hollow female part)
coelest- = referring to the sky, blue (coelestina)
caerul- = bluish (cerulea as in Passiflora caerulea, the mostly blue-flowered Passion Vine / caerulescens / caeruleus)
caes- = referring to the color blue-gray (caesium)
caespitos- = tufted, clumped (caespitosus)
collin- = referring to a hill (habitat) (collinus)
columb- = referring to a dove (columbaria)
com- -com(...) = referring to a hair (Acrocomia = top + hair, referring to the palms viewed from a distance) (comosus)
commun- = common (communis)
commut- = referring to change, changeable (commutatus)
con- = with (having) (concolor)
confert- = crowded (confertifolia = crowded leaves)
coni- = referring to a cone (coniferus)
conjug- = joined together (conjugatus)
conoid- = cone-like (conoideus)
contort- = twisted, contorted (contortus)
coral- = coral, red (corallinus)
cord- = referring to a heart (cordifolia = heart-shaped leaf)
core- = referring to an insect (Coreopsis = like a bug)
cori- = referring to leather (coriaceus)
corn- = referring to a horn (tereticornis = cylindrical- horned / cornuta)
coron- = referring to a crown (coronata coronaria)
cors- = referring to Corsica (corsicus)
cort- = referring to bark (corticosa / excorticata = off + bark, referring to exfoliating bark)
corusc- = referring to vibration, shaking
corymb- = referring to a corymb, a broad, + or - flat-topped flower cluster (corymbosus)
coryn- = referring to a club (shape) (corynocalyx = club-shaped calyx)
coryph- = referring to the top (apex) of an entity (Corypha, a palm genus whose immense members produce flowers only once, in a huge panicle at the very tip of the trunk, and then the tree dies)
corys- = referring to a helmet (Corysanthus)
cost- = referring to ribs (costatus)
cotyl- = referring to a cup (Cotyledon, a genus of succulents whose leaves are, in general, concave)
-cotyl(...) = referring to a cup
crass- = thick (Crassulaceae, a whole family of succulent (thick- stemmed) plants, which includes the genus Crassula) (crassifolia = thick-leaved)
cren- = scalloped, crenulate (crenulatum)
crepid- = referring to a sandal (crepidatum)

crepit- = referring to rattles (crepitans)

crepusc- = referring to twilight (crepuscularia)
cret- = referring to chalk or the island of Crete
crinit- = hairy (crinitum)
crisp- = curled, crinkled (crispus)
crist- = referring to a crest (cristata crista-galli = crest of a cock / cock's comb)
croc- = referring to the crocus (yellow) (crocata / crocea /)
crotal- = referring to rattles (Crotalaria, a papilionaceus genus whose dry seed pods are like castanets)
cruc- = referring to a cross (Cruciferae, a genus of plants, includ- many veggies, the petals of whose flowers are so evenly distributed as to form a cross)
cruent- = referring to blood (cruenta)
crypt- = hidden, not obvious (cryptanthus = hidden flower)
cucul- = referring to a hood (cucullatus)
cultr- = referring to a knife (shape) (cultratus / cultratus)
cune- = referring to a wedge (shaped) (cuneiformis)
cupr- = referring to copper (color) (cuprea)
cupress- = referring to a cypress (cupressoides-like)
cuspid- = referring to a cusp or point (cuspidata)
cyan- = referring to the color blue (cyaneus)
cyath- = referring to a cup (cyathiforme = cup-shaped / cyathiphorum = cup-bearing)
cycl- = referring to a circle (Cyclanthera = circle of anthers)
cycn- / cygn- / cyn- = referring to a swan (cygniformis / Polycynis = many swans, referring to the flowers of this genus of orchids)
cyl- = referring to a cylinder (cylindriata)
cymb- = referring to a boat (shape) (cymbiformis)
cyn- = referring to a dog (Cynoglossum = dog's tongue)
cym- = referring to a cyme (a broad, flat-topped flower cluster) (cymosa)
cypho- = referring to a hump, a tumor, a wart

cypr- = referring to copper (cypreus) - or a slipper (Cypr- ipedium, the Lady-Slipper genus of orchids)

cyrt- = referring to a curve (Cyrtostachys = a curved spike (of flowers))
cyst- = referring to a cyst or bladder (Cystacanthus = bladder + thorn)
Roots: D
dactyl- = referring to a finger (Phoenix dactylifera, the date palm, = finger-bearing, referring to shape of the fruit cluster)
daemon- = referring to a spirit, a demon (Daemonorops = demon shrub, a palm with spines)
dasy- = thick (Dasystachys = thick spike (of flowers))
de- = from, out of, off (decorticans = off + skin, therefore, peeling bark)
dealb- = whitish (dealbata)
debil- = weak (debiliformis = weak form)
deca- = referring to the number ten (decapetalus = ten-petalled)
decip- = drooping, deceptive, falling (decipiens)
declin- = declined, drooping (declinatus)
decor- = decorative (decora)
decumb- = reclining, prostrate, decumbent (decumbens)
decur- = literally 'running downwards,' usually meaning that the leaf 'runs down,' i.e., is joined to the stem of the plant (decurrens)
deflex- = bent downwards (deflexus)
delph- = referring to the dolphin (Delphinium, whose flowers supposedly resemble dolphins)
delect- = chosen, desirable, tasty (delectus)
deltoid- = triangular (deltoidea)
dendr- = referring to a tree (Dendrocalamus = tree + reed, the great giant tropical bamboo genus)
dent- = referring to a tooth (dentata)
denud- = naked (denudatus)
depend- = hanging (dependens)
-derm(...) = referring to skin, theredore bark (leucodermis = white- bark)
desm- = referring to a bond, or band (Desmoncus = band + hook, referring to the barbed leaves of this genus)
di- = referring to the number two (diacanthus = two-spined / dioica = two houses, indicating that the flowers are of separate sexes and found on different plants) (dipterocarpus = two + wing + fruit)
dichot- = two-branched (dichotomus)
dicty- = referring to a net (Dictyogramma = net-like + lines)
didy- = double, twinned (Didymocarpus = twin fruit) (didyma)
digit- = referring to fingers (Digitalis, the shape of the flowers supposedly resembling the finger of a glove) (digitata)
dilat- = spread out, expanded (dilatatus)
dios- = referring to a god or divinity (Diospyros = god + fruit, the persimmon)
dipl- = double (Diplothemium = double-sheathed)
dis- = referring to the number two or to a difference (discolor = (two-colored)
distich- = referring to two ranks (as in the arrangement of leaves); (distichum)
diurn- = referring to daytime (diurnum)
divari- = divergent, spreading (divaricatus)
divergens- = divergent, wide-spreading
variable (diversiflora = variable-flowered)
divi- = divided (divisus)
dodec- = twelve (dodecanthus = twelve-spined)
domestic- = domestic, cultivated (domestica)
-dont(...) = referring to a tooth (macrodonta = large-toothed)
-dor(...) = referring to a gift (Haemodorum = blood gift)
dory- = referring to a spear, lance (Doryanthes = lance-flower)
drac- = referring to a dragon (Dracaena draco = the dragon tree of the Canary Islands)
dros- = referring to dew (Drosera, the sundew genus)

drup- = referring to a berry-like fruit (drupifera = fruit -bearing / drupacea)

dry- = referring to an oak, wooden (Dryopteris, the wood-fern genus)
dub- = doubtful, dubious (dubius)
dulc- = sweet, tender (dulcis)
dumos- = bushy (dumosus)
dupl- = double (duplicatus)
dur- = durable hard, woody (durabilis)
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