Glossary of Terms
All main Hawaiian Islands: The eight main islands in the Hawaiian chain: Ni‘ihau, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Maui, Kaho‘olawe, and Hawai‘i.
Annual Plant: A plant that germinates, flowers, and sets seed during a single year or growing season. Compare perennial.
Aquatic: A plant living or growing in water.
Awn: A long extended stiff point (cf. mucro).
Basal: Arising at or near the base.
Brackish Water: Saline water that has a lower salinity than seawater.
Bract: A leaf-like structure, usually at the base of inflorescence and flowers.
Buttress: Supporting root structures, widening of the trunk at the base.
Calyx: Outer whorl of ‘sepals’ on a flower collectively.
Canopy: The overstory of trees or shrubs that provide shade.
Centimeters: To convert to inches multiply centimeters by 0.3937
Corolla: The whorl of petals in a flower.
Culm: Stalk or stem of a grass or sedge.
Cyme: A flat to rounded top inflorescence, in which the terminal flowers bloom first.
Decumbent: Stems or branches lying on the ground with tips ascending.
Densiometer: A device used to determine percentage canopy, the amount of sunlight on a stream or watercourse by site plant density. The densiometer calculates overhead percentage not covered by vegetative canopy.
Depth Class of Soil: Shallow -0-20 in (0-51 cm), Moderately Deep-20-40 in (51-102 cm), Deep- 40-60 in ( 102-152 cm), Very Deep->60 in (> 152 cm).
Distal: Toward the tip or end of the branch, or object.
Elliptical: A narrow oval.
Emergent: A plant rising above canopy or water.
Entire: Continuous edges or margins of a leaf, not notched or toothed.
Ephemeral Stream: A stream carrying water only after rainfall.
Epiphyte: A plant that grows upon another plant but does not draw food or water from it.
Erosion: The loosening and movement of soil particles by wind or water.
Glabrous: Hairless and smooth.
Glaucous: A white to bluish waxy coating on the surface of the object.
Growth Rate: The speed at which a plant will grow. For the purpose of this key it is equal to the average rate of growth as determined by field trials.
Halophyte: A plant that will grow in salty soils.
Herb: A non-woody plant, dying back to the ground at the end of the growing season.
Herbaceous: Having the characteristics of an herb.
Inches: To convert to millimeters multiply inches by 25.4
Inflorescence: The flowering arrangement of a plant.
Intermittent Stream: A stream that flows frequently for periods after rainfall; but is discontinuous. It is dry the majority of the year.
Mesic: Adapted to having a balanced supply of moisture; neither wet nor dry.
Meters: To conversion to feet multiply meters by 3.281
Monotypic: Single species represented.
Mycorrhizae: Symbiotic (parasitic or reciprocal) relationship between a fungus and a plant through the plants roots.
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Formerly the Soil Conservation Service.
Nut: Small dry fruit with a single chamber containing a single seed.
Obovate: Egg-shaped leaf with blade narrowing at leaf stalk..
Ovate: Egg-shaped leaf with blade widening at leaf stalk.
Panicle: A branched inflorescence with flowers opening from the bottom upwards.
Parasitic: An organism that takes it's nutrients from another host organism.
(P. & E.): Hawaiian names for ferns only found in Pukui & Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary, 1986. As noted in Palmer, 2003 Hawai‘i's Ferns and Fern Allies.
Peticel: The stalk of a flower or spikelet in an inflorescence.
Petiole: Leaf stalk.
Perennial Plant: A plant that lives for more than two growing seasons.
Perennial Stream: A stream that contains water throughout the year.
Pinnae: The first division of a leaf or fern frond.
Pinnate: A leaf (or frond) with two or more separate leaflets that are arranged on opposite sides of the center line from each other.
Polymorphic: many forms, variable.
Pools: Areas within stream characterized by a smooth undisturbed surface and generally slow current. Included in this habitat are "plunge" pools at the base of a cascade or waterfall (NRCS, 2001).
Prostrate: Stems or branches lying flat on the ground.
Pubescent: Covered with short, soft hairs.
Raceme: A non-branching inflorescence where flowers bloom from the bottom to the top.
Rhizome: A creeping, ascending, or erect stem of a fern, grass, or sedge; a horizontal underground stem; rootstock.
Riffle: Areas within streams characterized by turbulent running broken water (white water).
Riparian: The land area directly adjacent to a stream or other body of water.
Riparian Buffer: A corridor of permanent vegetation from the edge of the stream or other body of water.
Runs: Areas in streams characterized by moving water, but no broken water surface or whitewater (NRCS, 2001).
Salt Water: Water with a salt content of 35 parts per thousand or more.
Scale: A thin flat structure, dry, not green.
Seeps and Springs: Areas within streams where there is visible groundwater input.
Sepal: A portion of the outer whorl of the flower.
Serrate: A toothed, saw-like margin or edge of a leaf.
Sheath: The base of a blade of grass that surrounds the stem.
Shrub: A woody plant with many stems, branching below 1.5 meters tall.
Soil Texture: The relative proportions of sand, silt, and clay particles in soil (NRCS, 2003).
Spikelet: A single, small spike in a flower, grass, or sedge..
Spore: A reproductive cell, as in the white to dark brown cells on the back of fern fronds.
Stamen: The male reproductive parts of the anther and filament.
Stipe: A stalk, such as the center stalk of a fern frond.
Succulent: Thick, juicy, fleshy, stems or leaves.
Symbiotic: A close, physical relationship between two or more different organisms of different species.
Terrestrial: Growing on land.
Tree: A large woody plant, with a single trunk branching above 1.5 m tall.
Vine: A climbing or trailing plant with the stem not self-supporting.
Water table: Level at which water stands in or above the soil surface; all pores of soil are saturated.
Wetland: Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions (NRCS, 2003).
Whorled: Arranged in a ring from a single plain.
Xerophytic: A plant that will grow in very dry habitats.