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chlorophyll a green pigment, present in all green plants and in cyanobacteria, responsible for the absorption of light to provide energy for photosynthesis. Its molecule contains a magnesium atom held in a porphyrin ring.
photosynthesis the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. Photosynthesis in plants generally involves the green pigment chlorophyll and generates oxygen as a byproduct.
tissue any of the distinct types of material of which animals or plants are made, consisting of specialized cells and their products.
chloroplast a plastid that contains chlorophyll and in which photosynthesis takes place.
vacuole a space or vesicle within the cytoplasm of a cell, enclosed by a membrane and typically containing fluid.
cuticle a protective and waxy or hard layer covering the epidermis of a plant, invertebrate, or shell.
vascular tissue the tissue in higher plants that constitutes the vascular system, consisting of phloem and xylem, by which water and nutrients are conducted throughout the plant.
non-vascular plant a low-growing plant that lacks true vascular tissue for transporting materials.
rhizoid a filamentous outgrowth or root hair on the underside of the thallus in some lower plants, especially mosses and liverworts, serving both to anchor the plant and (in terrestrial forms) to conduct water.
vascular plant a plant that is characterized by the presence of conducting tissue.
phloem the vascular tissue in plants that conducts sugars and other metabolic products downward from the leaves.
xylem the vascular tissue in plants that conducts water and dissolved nutrients upward from the root and also helps to form the woody element in the stem.
frond the leaf or leaf-like part of a palm, fern, or similar plant.
pollen a fine powdery substance, typically yellow, consisting of microscopic grains discharged from the male part of a flower or from a male cone.
seed a flowering plant's unit of reproduction, capable of developing into another such plant.
gymnosperm a plant that has seeds unprotected by an ovary or fruit. Gymnosperms include the conifers, cycads, and ginkgo.
angiosperm a plant that has flowers and produces seeds enclosed within a carpel. The angiosperms are a large group and include herbaceous plants, shrubs, grasses, and most trees.
cotyledon an embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants, one or more of which are the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed.
monocot a flowering plant with an embryo that bears a single cotyledon (seed leaf).
dicot a flowering plant with an embryo that bears two cotyledons (seed leaves).
root cap a structure that covers the tip of a root, protecting the root from injury as the root grows through soil.
cambium a cellular plant tissue from which phloem, xylem, or cork grows by division, resulting (in woody plants) in secondary thickening.
stoma any of the minute pores in the epidermis of the leaf or stem of a plant, forming a slit of variable width that allows movement of gases in and out of the intercellular spaces.
transpiration the process by which water is lost through a plant's leaves.
embryo an unborn or unhatched offspring in the process of development, in particular a human offspring during the period from approximately the second to the eighth week after fertilization (after which it is usually termed a fetus).
germination the development of a plant from a seed or spore after a period of dormancy.
flower the seed-bearing part of a plant, consisting of reproductive organs (stamens and carpels) that are typically surrounded by a brightly colored corolla (petals) and a green calyx (sepals).
pollination the transfer of pollen to a stigma, ovule, flower, or plant to allow fertilization.
sepal each of the parts of the calyx of a flower, enclosing the petals and typically green and leaf-like.
petal each of the segments of the corolla of a flower, which are modified leaves and are typically colored.
stamen the male fertilizing organ of a flower, typically consisting of a pollen-containing anther and a filament.
pistil the female organs of a flower, comprising the stigma, style, and ovary.
ovary a female reproductive organ in which ova or eggs are produced, present in humans and other vertebrates as a pair.
sporophyte (in the life cycle of plants with alternating generations) the asexual and usually diploid phase, producing spores from which the gametophyte arises. It is the dominant form in vascular plants, e.g., the frond of a fern.
gametophyte (in the life cycle of plants with alternating generations) the gamete-producing and usually haploid phase, producing the zygote from which the sporophyte arises. It is the dominant form in bryophytes.
annual (of a plant) living for a year or less, perpetuating itself by seed.
biennial (especially of a plant) living or lasting for two years.
perennial lasting or existing for a long or apparently infinite time; enduring or continually recurring. (of a plant) living for several years.
fertilization the action or process of fertilizing an egg, female animal, or plant, involving the fusion of male and female gametes to form a zygote.
zygote a diploid cell resulting from the fusion of two haploid gametes; a fertilized ovum.
cone the dry fruit of a conifer, typically tapering to a rounded end and formed of a tight array of overlapping scales on a central axis that separate to release the seeds. a flower resembling a pine cone, especially that of the hop plant.
ovule a small or immature ovum. the part of the ovary of seed plants that contains the female germ cell and after fertilization becomes the seed.
fruit the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food.
tropism the turning of all or part of an organism in a particular direction in response to an external stimulus.
hormone a regulatory substance produced in an organism and transported in tissue fluids such as blood or sap to stimulate specific cells or tissues into action. a synthetic substance with an effect similar to that of an animal or plant hormone.
auxin a plant hormone that causes the elongation of cells in shoots and is involved in regulating plant growth.
photoperiodism the response of an organism to seasonal changes in day length.
critical night length the number of hours of darkness that determines whether or not a plant will flower.
short-day plant a plant that flowers when the nights are longer than the plant's critical night length.
long-day plant a plant that flowers when the nights are shorter than the plant's critical night length.
day-neutral plant a plant with a flowering cycle that is not sensitive to periods of light and dark.
dormancy a period of time when an organism's growth or activity stops.
peat a brown, soil-like material characteristic of boggy, acid ground, consisting of partly decomposed vegetable matter. It is widely cut and dried for use in gardening and as fuel.
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