Describing the Plant

Each post will describe the plant using the below characteristics. In Italics is a description of category. Categories that use specific terminology or descriptors have those terms or descriptors added after the italicized category description (i.e. Plant Type).

  • TropPlant Accession Number (TPAN): An arbitrary number assigned to the plant for record keeping on TropPlants
  • Botanical Name: A formal scientific name in accordance with the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN). If a cultivated variety, then the name is in accordance with the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). This unique descriptor is universally accepted as a specific plant throughout the scientific and landscape communities.
  • Common Name: The cultural or colloquial name(s) associated with the plant. Not a unique descriptor.
  • Cultivar: A cultivar is an assemblage of plants that (a) has been selected for a particular character or combination of characters, (b) is distinct, uniform and stable in those characters, and (c) when propagated by appropriate means, retains those characters. (Brickell, 2009) Cultivar names are regulated by and should be in accordance with the International Code of Nomenclature for Cultivated Plants (ICNCP). 
  • Family: The taxonomic rank between order and genus. Provides insight into shared characters with other family members.
  • Native To: The region in which the plant is naturally occurring. 

Landscaping Information: The descriptors below pertain mostly to landscape architecture and the art of designing a living space. This is not to say that plant height and growth rate are not relevant to the Botanist or Horticulturalist, but it was decided to group these for an easier reading experience.

  • Plant Type: A general description of the plant's characteristics. Tree, Shrub, Vine, Groundcover, Indoor Plant, Fern, Conifer, Deciduous, Broadleaf Evergreen, Palm, Herbaceous, Annual, Perennial, Bulb/Tuber/Corm, Rhizome, Cycad, Cactus/succulent
  • Texture: The feel or appearance of a plant. Fine, Medium, Dense, Coarse, Open (a great reference for understanding the importance of texture is here from the University of Florida)
  • Form: The outline of the plant's shape. Mat, Cushion, Mound, Dome, Spreading, Columnar, Round-Headed, Conical, Upright-Narrow, Upright-broad, Ovoid, Obovoid, Vase-shaped, Weeping/Pendent, Irregular (a great reference for understanding the importance of form is here from the University of Florida)
  • Height (on average, in landscape use): Average height at maturity of the plant in landscaped settings <1', 1', 1.5', 2', 4', 8', 10', 15', 20', 25', 30', 45', 60', 90', >90'
  • Height to Spread Ratio: The ratio of height at maturity to the width (spread) at maturity.
  • Growth Rate: The rate of plant height or spread over time relative to other plants. Slow , Medium, Fast
  • Landscape Values: The common uses of the plant in landscaping Accent, Street Tree, Background, Border, Color, Edging, Facer, Filler, Foundation, Framing, Groundcover, Hedge, Indoor, Lanai, Mass, Patio, Quick Effect, Screen, Shade, Sculptural Form, Space Division, Specimen, Windbreak, Erosion Control 
  • Outstanding Quality: Noteworthy features Flower Color, Foliage Color, Seasonal Color, Fragrance, Variegation, Form/Silhouette, Foliage Characters, Fruit, Bark

Botanical Descriptions: The descriptors below pertain mostly to the field of Botany and Taxonomy as a means of classifying and identifying plants. This is not to say that flowers and foliage color are not relevant for the Landscape Architect or the Horticulturalist, but it was decided to group these for an easier reading experience.

  • Fruits: A description of the fruit; details include Color, Type, Size, Edibility, Season of Fruiting, and other relevant details. 
  • Foliage Color: A description of the foliage when Young/immature: Bronze, Reddish, Soft, light green, or Yellow Green. Mature: Bright medium green, dark green, gray green, blue-green, gray, light green, yellow-green, bronze to red, or variegated. (a great reference for understanding the importance of color is here from the University of Florida)
  • Foliage Base: A description of the shape of the base of the leaf. That is to say the shape of the leaf nearest the petiole. Rounded, Obtuse, Acute, Attenuate, Truncate, Cordate, Sagittate, Hastate, Cuneate, Auriculate, Orbicular Pelta. (see Wikipedia for leaf morphology terms)
  • Petiole: A description of the stalk that connects the leaf to the stem.
  • Stipules: A description of the outgrowths on the leaf base.
  • Margins: A description of the shape of the edge of the leaf; descriptions could include Serrate, Smooth, Toothed, Undulate, Lacerate.
  • Leaf Arrangement: A description of the attachment of the leaves to the stem; descriptions can include Opposite, Alternate, Distichous, Whorled, 4-ranked, Rosette.
  • Leaf Shape: A description of the overall form of the leaf; descriptors include Needle, linear, lanceolate, oblong, elliptic, ovate, obovate, oblanceolate, spathulate, rhomboidal, cuneate, deltoid, obdeltoid, peltate, cordate, obcordate, sagittate, hastate, reniform, or orbiculate. (see Wikipedia for leaf morphology terms).  
  • Leaf Type: A description of the general type of the leaf. Descriptions can include Simple, Palmate, Once Pinnate, Twice Pinnate, Trifoliate, Thrice Pinnate, Even-Pinnate, Odd-Pinnate, Leaflet #, Palmately Lobed, Pinnately Lobed, Frond, Fan, Scale. 
  • Leaf Texture: A description of touching the leaf, how the leaf feels to the touch.
  • Leaf Special Notes: Notes that the author has regarding special characteristics of the leaf.
  • Bark and Trunk: A description of the bark and trunk. 
    Nota Bene: The silver colored ruler used for scale is 8 inches.

    Horticultural Information: The descriptors below pertain mostly to the growing of plants and ensuring prosperity. This is not to say that light preferences and tolerances are not relevant for the Landscape Architect or the Botanist, but it was decided to group these for an easier reading experience.

    • Light Preference: A description of the preferred amount of sunlight. Shade, Semi-Sun, Full Sun.
    • Light Tolerances: A description of the type of light the plant will tolerant. The plant might not develop in the same way as the light preference. Shade, Semi-Sun, Full Sun. 
    • Soil Preferences: A description of the type of soil the plant prefers.  Not Particular, Acidic, Slightly Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline, Clay, Loam, Sand, Organic, Moist, Dry (Mesic), Dry (Xeric), Well-Drained.
    • Tolerances: A description of the conditions the plant can tolerate or withstand.. The plant might not develop in the same way with these conditions, yet it is not know to perish due to them.. Not Particular, Acidic,  Alkaline, Poor Drainage, Submerged Roots, Smog, Compacted Soil, Salt Air, Saline Soil, Strong Winds, Moderate Winds, Humidity, Regular Watering, Drought, Being Walked Upon. 
    • Water Requirements: A description of the relative amount of water necessary to facilitate natural , healthy growth.
    • Notes on Maintenance: A description of the plant's needs regarding pruning, fertilizer, and pest and disease prevention. 
    • Propagation: Methods of sexually or asexually reproducing the plant. Seeds, Cutting, Layer, Division, Grafting/Budding.
    • Minimum USDA Hardiness Zone: A region described by the annual average extreme minimum temperature. Regions are described by zones ranging from 1A to 13B with 1A having the lowest annual average extreme minimum temperature (-51.1 to -48.3C) and 13B being the highest (18.3 to 21.1C). Generally, tropical plants will not survive below zone 7, but some are cold hardy. (see USDA Plant Hardiness for more information)

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