The side of an organ away from the axis. cf. Adaxial.

Usually refers to the calyx which increases in size and persists until fruit maturity.

Restricted in this key to a plumed nut.

Slender or needle-shaped.

Refers to flowers with a regular pattern. Flowers which can be bisected by two or more vertical planes to produce similar halves. cf. Zygomorphic

Somewhat prickly.

Drawn out into a definite tip at the apex.

An angle less than 90 degrees. Usually refers to the extremity of an organ.

The side of an organ adjacent to the axis. cf. Abaxial

Attached to.

See appressed.

Usually used to describe roots or leafy shoots which arise other than in the normal position; e.g. roots which arise from the stem or branches rather than the roots or the radicle, or shoots which arise from the stem instead of the axils of leaves.

The mode of attachment or production of organs on an axis, e.g. leaves on a twig, petals on a flower or floral axis.

Produced from apocarpous carpels of a single flower.


Shapeless, without any definite structure.

Clasping the stem. Used to describe leaf bases or stipules which are enlarged at the base and enclose or surround the stem or twig.


The branching and fusing of structures (such as veins) to form a reticulate pattern where the branch angles are acute. This feature is often seen on maps where rivers flowing through very flat areas branch and rejoin one another.

The column on which stamens and carpels are borne.

Stamens united to form a column with the anthers at the apex.

In a ring or arranged in a circle.

The portion of the stamen containing the pollen. Anthers are usually (but not always) bilocular.

The tissue in the anther connecting the anther sacs.

The stage in the development of a flower when fertilization occurs, i.e. when the pollen is released and the ovary is receptive.

The tip of an organ.

Ending in a sharp but flexible point. Often refers to the tip of a leaf.

With separate and distinct carpels in the flower.

Lying flat, usually refers to hairs on an organ, e.g. a leaf blade.

With numerous areoles, i.e pockets or small interstices usually between the fibres or veinlets in a leaf blade.

An Aril is difficult to define but the term is generally restricted to fleshy growths from the funicle or from the hilum, i.e. from the base of the seed or its point of attachment. To be classed as an aril it must enclose at least part of the seed. An aril often resembles an egg cup around the base of the egg. No distinction is made in this key between arils, arillodes and sarcotestas and all are included in the generic term aril. Arils are usually found on seeds in dehiscent or tardily dehiscent fruits but there are exceptions to this generalisation. The edible part of a litchi, Litchi chinensis, is an aril.

With a stiff bristle-like tip. Usually refers to the apex of an organ, e.g. a leaf tip.

Directed upwards, or the axis is oblique at first and then more or less erect.

Refers to organs which cannot be divided into halves which are mirror images of one another.

See Asymmetric.

Tapering gradually.

A small lobe or ear-shaped appendage.

An ear-shaped appendage or lobe.


A small hand tool used for making holes in leather. In botanical terminology it is used to describe three dimensional structures which are narrow and taper to a point like the head of an awl.

Used to describe the arrangement of ovules in a multi-locular ovary when they are attached to the central axis of the ovary.

Borne in the axil of a leaf, i.e. in the fork formed by the twig and the leaf stalk. cf. Terminal, Ramal, Cauline


A term used to describe fig trees (Ficus spp.) which drop aerial roots from their branches down to the ground. The aerial roots grow in size to become pillar-like and the branch continues to grow horizontally and repeat the process so that over a period of time one tree can cover a wide area.

The tissue on stems and branches of dicotyledons and most gymnosperms outside the cambium. Bark includes living and dead tissue.

Attached by the base, often used to describe anthers which are attached to the filament in such a fashion.

A predominantly Queensland term used to describe rain forest with emergent eucalypts above the rain forest canopy.

A fleshy indehiscent fruit with one or more seeds enclosed in the pericarp.

Divided into two parts, usually used to describe the apex of an organ.

With two leaves.

With two leaflets.

Two lipped or two lobed. Usually refers to the corolla of a flower.

Compound leaves which are twice divided, i.e. a compound leaf where the leaflets have been divided again. cf. Tripinnate

Producing both stamens and pistils, i.e. hermaphrodite.

Usually refers to doubly compound where the leaflets are arranged in threes.

The expanded portion of a leaf.

Blaze is a term used to describe the longitudinal section of the bark of a tree which is revealed by making a + vertical,tangential cut, traditionally made with an axe or brushhook but a pocket knife is recommended in this Key.

The stem of a tree.

See Bole.

Much modified and much reduced leaves usually found in inflorescences, variously dispersed, but frequently at the base of flowers or flower stalks.

A small branch.

A very useful implement resembling a heavy grade reaping hook but mounted on a long straight handle. The handle is held in both hands and the implement us used by swinging it in a similar manner to an axe.

Small bulbs; usually used to describe structures produced on above-ground parts of a plant.

Surface marked by bubble-like structures.

The lower part of the trunk of a tree close to ground level.

Flanges or bracket-like structures at the base of some rain forest trees. They are usually flattened extensions of the main lateral roots but in some cases, e.g. Ficus spp. and Syzygium gustavioides, they can be enlarged adventitious roots which have grown from the stem to the ground.


Falling or being shed early in the developmental stage of an organ or structure.

In this key this refers to the cap-like structure covering the stamens etc. in the flower bud. It is formed by the fusion of sepals and/or petals. The calyptra (or operculum) is usually shed as a complete unit as the flower matures. This may happen just prior to anthesis or it can occur quite early in the development of the flower.

A collective term for the sepals in a flower, usually the outermost whorl of flower parts. cf. Corolla

The tube formed by the fusion of sepals.

A narrow layer of actively dividing living tissue between the sapwood and the bark. Macroscopically it appears to be no more than a slippery or mucilaginous layer separating the wood and the bark.

Shaped like a church bell.

Channelled, with a longitudinal groove.

Hoary or becoming grey or hoary.

Like a head; densely clustered flowers in an inflorescence; stigma resembling the head of a pin.

A dehiscent fruit which opens along more than one suture.

The structure within the flower which bears the ovules. Carpels take many forms and may be separated from one another as in the family Annonaceae or may be fused to form an ovary which may or may not be divided into locules, e.g. Myrtaceae, Pittosporaceae.

A small aril-like structure on the testa (seed coat) near the hilum.

A one-seeded fruit in which the ovary wall is united with the seed coat, typical of grasses and cereals.

In this key the term cataphyll is only used in connection with seedlings. Cataphylls are small scale leaves or leaf-like structures which do not develop into true leaves. They usually appear between the cotyledons and the first true leaves but they can also appear at other positions on the seedling.

With a tail-like appendage.

Bearing flowers on the stem.

Pertaining to the stem.


Central East Queensland. The area south of Townsville and north of Rockhampton.

With an irregular brain-like appearance.


With hairs along the margin.

With small hairs along the margin.

Dehiscing, breaking or parting along a transverse line around the circumference.

A branch which has been modified to perform the function of a leaf. This normally means it contains chlorophyll and is photosynthetically active. The shape may resemble that of the commonly encountered angiosperm leaves but it can be more or less cylindrical as in the needles of Casuarinaceae.

Club-shaped, thickened towards the apex.

The narrowed petiole-like base of a petal or sepal.

Vegetation dominated by trees whose crowns touch or overlap giving a complete coverage of the ground.

Usually used to describe the more or less separate lobes in a dehiscent fruit developed from a flower with an apocarpous ovary.

A spiral shape resembling that of a snail.

Attached or sticking together.

Hairs or finger-shaped glands produced on leaves or twigs. These structures may produce mucilage and are commonly found in Asclepiadaceae.

Clothed in numerous structures resembling hills in shape.

Leaves which are divided into leaflets. See Leaf Type in the Leaf Features.

Shell-shaped, i.e. one half of a bivalve shell (not an artillery shell).

Usually woody or leathery, dehiscent multiple fruits with the seeds enclosed by large leathery or woody bracts. When mature the bracts separate to release the seeds. Usually used to describe the fruits of conifers, also used for the fruits of Casuarinaceae and the inflorescences of conifers.

Running together, joined to form one structure, gradually fused.

A three dimensional shape, which is triangular in median longitudinal section and circular in any transverse section. Like an inverted carrot.

Joined together, united.

Belonging to the same species.

Twisted or bent.

Twisted and plaited or folded or twisted back on itself.

In general terms coiled or twisted, frequently applied to the cotyledons in the embryo when the cotyledons are rolled together rather like tobacco leaves in a cigar.

Vegetative shoots at the base of the stem. The term is usually associated with vegetative shoots from tree stumps following logging but the term is not used in this restricted sense in the Key.

A small boat about as long as wide made like a basket and covered with hides, skins or similar material.

Resembling coral.

Heart-shaped referring either to the overall shape of the leaf or to the base of a leaf.


Like a bullock's horn.

A collective term for the petals in a flower. cf. Calyx

The tube formed by the fusion of petals.

A ring of structures between the corolla and the stamens.

A compound flat-topped inflorescence.

Found in all parts of the world.

The primary leaves of an embryo.

With small rounded teeth.

With small teeth along the margin.



Wedge-shaped, triangular.


A structure resembling the upper part of an egg cup. Usually used to describe a structure which encloses the base of a fruit, sometimes used for similar structures on a seed.

Cup-shaped. (See Cupule).

A sharp rigid point.

Shaped like a drinking cup.

Elongated, circular in cross section.

A determinate inflorescence in which each flower terminates each branch of the inflorescence and additional flowers can only be produced by the production of floral branches below the terminal flower.

The ultimate portion of a cyme.


Cape York Peninsula. The northern part of Cape York Peninsula, north of Princess Charlotte Bay.

A mineral concretion, often calcium carbonate, produced in specific cells. Cystoliths are a feature of plants in the Moraceae and Urticaceae but are also found in plants in other families.


An abbreviation for diameter breast high, i.e. diameter 1.3 m above ground level.

Usually referring to the seasonal loss of leaves but can refer to other parts of a plant, e.g. stipules, scale leaves, calyx lobes, hairs, floral bracts, etc.

Running down. Often used to describe the prolongation of the leaf tissue beyond the point of insertion of the leaf on the twig.

In pairs, with successive pairs at right angles to one another, usually used to describe leaf arrangement.

The natural splitting of an organ at maturity, e.g. anther or dry fruit.

Splitting to release contents. Usually applied to fruits or anthers.

Shaped like an equilateral triangle.

With a branched tree-like appearance.


Sunk down, flattened from above.


Plants whose seedlings possess two cotyledons.

Usually used to describe compound leaves where the leaflets arise from a central point (somewhat like the blades of a windmill).

With two different forms. The term is used to describe a variety of organs which are produced in two different forms, e.g. stamens, staminodes, leaves, calyx lobes, cotyledons, etc.

Ovules and viable pollen grains produced on different plants.

A floret attached to the central part of the flower head in the family Asteraceae.

Flat and circular or orbicular.

Like a disc, flat and circular, orbicular.

A floret attached to the central part of the flower head in the family Asteraceae.

Arranged in two rows.

Spread apart, widely divergent.


Structures in the forks of the midrib and the main lateral veins. They take two main forms, either conspicuous little tufts of hairs or little hooded enclosures (foveoles, i.e. small pits). Domatia may also occur in the forks formed by the branching of the main lateral veins but this is not a frequent occurrence.

Attached by the back, often use to describe anthers which are attached to the filament in such a fashion.

A fruit such as a peach, cherry, plum, etc., consisting of an outer skin, surrounding a fleshy, succulent layer which in turn surrounds a hard woody shell enclosing usually a single seed.

A particular type of germination when the hypocotyl develops and elongates but the cotyledons remain enclosed in the seed coat. The seed is often raised above the surface of the ground but in other cases it remains at or below ground level.


Bearing stiff prickles or stout blunt prickles.

A solid figure, elliptical in longitudinal section but circular in transverse section. A rugby union football is a good example of an ellipsoid object.

Oval in outline, widest at the middle.

Much longer than wide.

With a broad shallow notch at the apex.

The young plant contained within the seed.

Confined to a particular region (prior to the arrival of modern man).

The inner layer of a fruit. The endocarp of a peach is the thick, hard pitted "stone" which remains after eating the fruit.

The starchy or oil rich material which surrounds the embryo in some seeds.

A whorl of bracts just below or attached to the calyx and resembling it.

Refers to the buds or shoots which develop on the trunks of trees.

The outermost layer of an organ, usually only one cell thick.

A particular type of germination when the cotyledons are raised above the soil surface, emerge from the seed coat and usually become photosynthetically active.

Flowers in which the calyx or corolla is attached above the ovary.

On the petals. Often used to describe the situation when anther filaments are attached to the petals or corolla tube.

A plant which is not a parasite, but grows upon another plant.

On the sepals. Used to describe the situation when organs are attached to the sepals.

When an organ is the same length when measured in different planes.

Turned inside out.

A wart-like or other outgrowth on the body of a plant.

The outermost layer of a fruit, e.g. the skin of a mango (Mangifera indica).

Protruding, usually used to describe stamens protruding from the corolla tube.

Opening outwards, usually applied to anthers. cf. Introrse

Liquid (often viscous and coloured) emerging from plant parts such as twigs and leaves but particularly useful as a character of the living bark. Not to be confused with the slippery or mucilaginous cambial layer or water from the sapwood.


Flat and curved like a reaping hook or head of a brushhook.

See Falcate.

A cluster or bundle of flowers, leaves, stamens, etc. A particular type of inflorescence with flowers arising from one point on a twig or branch, each flower with or without a stalk.

Covered with matted hairs so as to impart a felt-like appearance.


The stalk of an anther.


The margin of an organ which is bordered with long slender processes (particularly hairs).

When the surface is marked by longitudinal depressions. See B2 in Tree Bark Features definitions.

Bent from side to side in a zig-zag form.

Clothed in tufts of soft hairs or woolly indumentum.

The flower tube, usually used in the case of a flower where the petals or tepals are fused to form a tube.

With one edge attached while the other edge is free and formed into a ruffle.

Longitudinally grooved.

Prop-like struts which emerge from the lower stem and extend into the ground and function as roots. So named because of their resemblance to flying buttresses on Gothic cathedrals.

Like a leaf.

A dehiscent fruit opening along one suture.

Possessing or exhibiting fovea, foveoles or pits.

Small hooded structures usually found on the underside of leaves usually in the forks formed by the midrib and main lateral veins but also in forks on the lateral veins. See Domatia.

The fertilized or developed ovary containing the seeds. Fruits may be dry or succulent and are produced in a wide variety of forms and sizes.

Usually used to describe the individual fruits which develop from each carpel of an apocarpous ovary.

The stalk of an ovule or the stalk of a seed.

Spindle-shaped, thick but tapering towards each end.


Closed forest along creeks and rivers which flow through areas which are otherwise dominated by a different vegetation type or less well developed forest.

Bent like a knee.

Becoming glabrous.

Without hairs.

Covered with a waxy bloom or whitish or greyish substance which can be rubbed off.

Nearly spherical.

Globe-shaped, spherical.

One of the chaffy perianth segments enclosing the flower spikelet or fruit of a grass.

The female part of the flower.

An elongated stalk which raises the ovary above the level at which other floral parts are attached.


An ovary which is neither definitely superior nor inferior where the calyx or corolla is attached about halfway between the base and the apex. cf. Inferior, Superior

Usually used to describe a leaf base which has two lobes each + at right angles to the midrib.

The organ by which a parasite absorbs nutrients from the host plant. In longitudinal section it resembles a root ball in structure.

Usually used to describe inflorescences when the flowers are produced in a definite structure where the flowers (often without stalks) are densely packed in various ways without any obvious branching pattern.

Shaped like half a sphere.

A parasitic plant that is also photosynthetic to some degree. Hemiparasites may just obtain water and mineral nutrients from the host plant, or may also obtain at least part of their organic nutrients from the host as well.

The scar on the seed coat marking its point of attachment to the funicle or placenta during development.

Clothed in coarse, long hairs.

Minutely hirsute.

Clothed in stiff, bristly hairs. cf. Muricate, Scabrous

Minutely hispid.

A small hill or knoll.

Colourless or translucent.

A compound incorporating or derived from hydrogen cyanide.

A cup-like structure in a flower resulting from the fusion of calyx lobes to form a tube or cup which is also fused to other floral parts so that the stamens and petals are attached at the apex.

In a seed the term can be applied to the axis of an embryo below the cotyledons but in this key the term is usually applied to the stem of a seedling below the cotyledons but above the roots.

A particular type of germination when the cotyledons remain below the soil surface enclosed in the seed coat and do not become photosynthetically active.

A flower in which the sepals, petals and stamens are inserted below the ovary. cf. Epigynous, Perigynous


Overlapping, usually applied to perianth parts in a flower bud. cf. Valvate

Compound leaves which have an uneven number of pinnae (usually leaflets). This term and its antithesis "paripinnate" can lead to confusion when compound leaves are encountered where the leaflets are arranged in an alternate fashion and not opposite one another on the compound leaf axis or rhachis.

Not protruding beyond the surrounding organ.

Bent inwards, curved inwards or upwards.

Usually applied to fruits which do not split open to release seeds while the fruits are still attached to the tree.

Indefinite, not completely determined.

Any appendages on the epidermis, e.g. hairs, scales, etc.

Folded inwards so that the outer surfaces of the organ are in contact, often used to describe the folding in a corolla.

When an ovary is positioned below the point of attachment of the calyx or corolla. cf. Half inferior, Superior

Swollen, bladder-like, puffed up.

Bent inwards, applied to a number of different organs.

The arrangement in which flowers are borne on a plant.

The arrangement in which fruits are borne on a plant.


Between the cotyledons.

Between the petioles.

A vein of constant thickness (much thinner than the midrib) just inside the margin from the base to the apex. Lateral veins run from the midrib to the intramarginal vein. (To be classified as an intramarginal vein, rather than looping lateral veins, there should not be any major bends, although slight indentations may occur at the junction with the main lateral veins.)

Opening inwards, usually used to describe anthers.

Usually used to describe one or more whorls of bracts under a flower, flower cluster or fruit.


The two lower, united petals of a papilionaceous (fabaceous) flower.


A perianth segment. A term applied to the large and often ornamented third petal in an orchid flower. Also applied to similar structures in the flowers of other families, e.g. Zingiberaceae

Shaped like a tear drop.

Applied to margins which are divided into numerous pointed lobes, e.g. leaves, seeds, stigmas, tepals, arils, etc.

Shaped like a Florence Flask or gourd, i.e. globular at the base but with a long narrow neck.

Rope consisting of 3-7 or more twisted strands which are then twisted in the opposite direction to form the final product. Not braided or plaited.

The blade of a leaf, i.e. the expanded portion of a leaf.

Shaped like a lance head, tapering at each end but usually broader in the lower half.

Opening sideways.

The main veins running from the midrib towards the margins of the leaf blade.

The leaf-like subdivision of a compound leaf.

Small pustules on the stems of many rain forest trees composed of material which when rubbed between the fingers has the consistency of borer dust. To see the true colour of lenticels it may be necessary to rub the weathered material off the top of each lenticel to expose the fresher material beneath. Lenticels may also be found on twigs and fruits. Lenticels facilitate gaseous exchange between plant tissue and the atmosphere.

Beset with lenticels.

Covered with small scales or used to describe scales on an organ, e.g. lepidote scales. In the latter context the term lepidote is used because the scales resemble those on the wings of Butterflies (Order Lepidoptera).

Lignotubers are swellings which develop in the axils of the cotyledons and increase in size as the seedling grows. They carry food resources and can produce aerial shoots if the seedling is seriously damaged, e.g. in a fire. Usually found in eucalypts, but also found in other Australian species.


A tongue-shaped lobe found at the base of leaf blades of grasses and gingers.

Long and narrow with parallel sides.

A plant growing on rocks and with a growth habit resembling that of epiphytes. Many epiphytes also grow as lithophytes and vice-versa, e.g. Ficus spp.

The physiologically active bark beneath the dead outer bark but outside the cambial layer.

Margins with large projections or indentations.

Divided into little cells or compartments. Usually used to describe anthers.

A compartment or cell in an ovary, anther or fruit.

Describes the dehiscence of a fruit which splits along the back, + midway between the partitions between locules. cf. Septicidal

Shaped like a half moon.


The area covered by Flora Malesiana, i.e. the area bounded by Peninsular Malaysia to the west, the Philippines to the north and New Britain and New Ireland to the east. The southern boundary takes in New Guinea and all the Indonesian islands but does not include Australia.

Used to describe the arrangement of ovules in a unicarpellate ovary when they are attached around the edge of the carpel.

Having the appearance of meal (ground grain) or dust.

Attached by the middle. Usually used to describe two-armed hairs attached by the middle.

A parchment-like texture.

A portion of a fruit which splits away as a separate entity capable of perpetuating the species.

Used as a suffix to denote numbers of parts in a flower.

See merous.

The middle layer of the pericarp, e.g. the fleshy part of a succulent fruit between the skin (exocarp) and the endocarp or seed, when the endocarp is not developed.

Usually used to describe rocks which have been subject to various stresses and strains (particularly heat and pressure) so that the original structure is changed and components recrystallized and the overall appearance is radically changed.

A pore in the seed coat.

The anther-bearing bract-like structures in the male cones of conifers.

The main vein running down the middle of the leaf blade or leaflet blade.

any species in the Loranthaceae or a tree-living Santalaceae. They are hemi-parasites that are attached to their host plant by haustoria.

A bishop's tall cap.

Shaped like a bishops ceremonial headdress.

Like a string of beads. cf. Torulose

Plants whose seedlings possess one cotyledon.  Often with a combination of the following features: herbs or grasslike, with parallel leaf venation and flower parts usually in multiples of 3.

Producing male and female reproductive structures in different flowers but both ovules and viable pollen grains being produced on the same plant. cf. Dioecious

A family consisting of one genus only.

A genus consisting of one species only.

Closed forest with a significant proportion of deciduous trees, growing in areas with a long dry season. Eucalypts are usually absent and the canopy cover is usually so dense that grasses are seldom found as a vigorous component of the ground cover.

Almost dead.

Gelatinous secretion.

A short sharp tip on an organ.

Possessing a mucro.

With many lobes.

Trees (or other plants) with a number of + vertical stems of + equal size.

Rough, with short and hard excrescences. cf. Scabrous, Hispid


Used to describe a species which has been introduced to an area and is now growing and regenerating in the area without any assistance from man.

Producing nectar. Usually referring to glands which produce nectar in the flowers or on leaves, twigs or parts of the inflorescence.


North East Queensland. The area north of Townsville and south of Princess Charlotte Bay.

A term used to describe the most commonly encountered bark type in rain forest. See Bark Feature B6.


New South Wales.


Northern Territory. The "Top End" of the Northern Territory, north of 19° S, extending from the border with Western Australia to the Queensland border.


A dry, indehiscent fruit, usually but not always one-seeded.

A small nut. Often applied to the fruit units produced in families like the Lamiaceae and Verbenaceae.


Used to describe the macroscopic appearance of the wood of stems, branches and twigs where the vascular rays are large and obvious. The Queensland Nut tree (Macadamia spp.) has oak grain in the stem and twigs. To observe oak grain in the twigs (which appears rather like spokes in an old cart wheel) cut through a leafy twig at a shallow angle with a pocket knife.

Shaped like an upside down club, i.e the reverse of clavate.

Cone-shaped and attached at the narrow end. cf. Conical

Heart-shaped and attached at the narrow end. cf. Cordate

Shaped like an equilateral triangle and attached at the narrow end. cf. Deltoid

Shaped like a lance head and attached at the narrow end. cf. Lanceolate

Usually used to describe leaves which are asymmetrical, larger on one side of the midrib than the other but can be applied to other organs which are asymmetrical. Fig. 19(i)

Longer than wide but with parallel sides.

The solid form of oblong.

Egg-shaped in outline and attached at the narrower end. cf. Ovate

A solid egg-shaped object with the point of attachment at the narrower end. cf. Obovoid

A solid pear-shaped object with the point of attachment at the broader end. cf. Pyriform

Shaped like an upside down kidney, i.e. the reverse of reniform.

Triangular and attached at the narrow end. cf. Triangular

Blunt or rounded at the end.

A variation of the more general term convolute. When the margins of one organ alternately overlap those of another organ.

Small translucent dots or cigar-shaped structures which are visible when the leaf is held up to the light. Oil dots are readily seen in leaves from citrus trees.

Vegetation dominated by trees where the canopy is not continuous and sufficient light reaches the ground to support vigorous grass growth at least during the wet season. cf. Closed Forest

Possessing an operculum.

See Calyptra.

Flat and circular.

Vegetative shoots which grow vertically and not horizontally, e.g. the apex of the Hoop Pine tree.

A pore or opening in an organ, e.g. the pore at the apex of a fig.

The part of the pistil containing the ovules.

Egg-shaped in outline and attached by the broader end.


A solid egg-shaped object with the point of attachment at the broader end.

Globular structures within the ovary which develop into seeds after fertilization.

A sterile ovule. Ovulodes can be found in female and hermaphrodite flowers but they are easier to observe and much more numerous in male flowers.


Resembling the palm of a hand, margins lobed or divided so that the clefts point to the apex of the petiole. In this key, palmate leaves are simple leaves unless described as palmately compound.

A leaf blade which is deeply divided towards a central point somewhat resembling the fingers on a hand.

Palmately cut. Midway between palmate and palmatifid.

An indeterminate inflorescence in which the flowers are produced in a much branched, complex structure resembling the branching pattern of a tree. It is important to realize that panicles can incorporate other basic inflorescence patterns such as umbels and cymes.

In all tropical regions of the world.

Like a butterfly or with a pea-like flower.

Small, elongated protruberances on the surface of an organ.

Covered with superficial protuberances.

Covered with short pimple-like or nipple-like protuberances on the surface.

Thistle down. The fine downy hairs on seed-like fruits and flowers of thistles. Pappus is usually interpreted as a much modified calyx.

Plane curve formed by the intersection of a cone with a plane parallel to its side.

Solid object some of whose plane sections are parabolas.

Describes the placentation or arrangement of ovules in a unilocular ovary when they are attached to two or more placentas on the margin.

Compound leaves with an even number of leaflets and terminated by a pair of leaflets. cf. Imparipinnate

Shaped like a circular dish, like the bone in the knee cap.

A palmately compound leaf in which the basal pair of leaflets are each divided in two or are two-lobed.

The stalk of an individual flower usually restricted to the stalk beyond the last pair of bracts.

Possessing a pedicel.

The stalk of an inflorescence.

Possessing a peduncle.

Describes organs attached by the middle, e.g. like the handle of an umbrella. Usually used to describe leaves but can be used for other organs.

Drooping or hanging. Used to describe ovules which hang from the apex of an organ or locule in an ovary or other pendulous organs, e.g. leaves, fruits, inflorescences, etc.

With a conspicuous midrib and a number of lateral veins diverging from it and running + parallel to one another, i.e. pinnately veined.

A term used to describe the bud on perennial plants particularly those which produce leaves each year above the ground but which then die back in the dry season so that the only part of the plant which persists from one year to the next is an underground tuber.

When the twig apparently passes through a leaf.

A collective term used to describe the calyx and corolla of a flower particularly in cases where the two structures are similar, or one is apparently missing.

The tube formed by the fusion of perianth parts.

The ripened ovary wall. A collective term to describe the outer layers of fleshy fruits. It usually includes the mesocarp and exocarp but technically also includes the endocarp.

Used to describe the structure of a flower in which the sepals, petals and stamens are inserted at the same level as the ovary. cf. Epigynous, Hypogynous

The outermost edge of any organ.

Structures which are usually attached to the inner (adaxial) surface near the base of the petals. Their texture and colour usually approximates that of the petals and they are often hairy. They are a characteristic appendage of the petals of species belonging to the family Sapindaceae.

Like a petal.

Flat + leaf-shaped organs usually produced in a whorl immediately outside the fertile organs, i.e. ovary and stamens. Petals are usually soft in texture and often brightly coloured.

Leaves possessing a petiole.

The leaf stalk.

The stalk of a leaflet of a compound leaf.

A bundle of stamens united by their filaments.

Produced by photosynthesis, the process whereby green plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide (taken from the air) and water into complex substances. Such activity is usually indicated by the tissue being green in colour.

Usually used to describe the "leaves" of the commonly encountered Australian acacias. These "leaves" are actually modified petioles, i.e. leaf stalks, and in botanical literature are called phyllodes.

Of two colours irregularly arranged. e.g. piebald horse

Hairy, the hairs rather long and spaced.

Divided into pinnae, once compound.

Cut into segments or lobes on either side of the midrib in a pinnate fashion. cf. Pinnatisect

Cut into segments or lobes almost down to the midrib in a pinnate fashion. cf. Pinnatifid

The female organ of a flower; when complete consisting of an ovary, style and stigma. It may consist of one or more carpels.

The pistil-like organ in a male flower. Differing from a true pistil in the lack of fertile ovules in the ovary. Also differing in other ways, usually being smaller.

The spongy centre of a twig or stem.

The structure within the ovary which bears the ovules.

The arrangement or mode of attachment of ovules in the ovary.

Vegetative shoots which persist in growing horizontally even when given the opportunity to grow vertically, e.g. the lateral branches of the Hoop Pine tree.

An area enclosed by a thin line on each lateral surface of the seed. This feature is not common but is found in legumes and some other families.

Folded or pleated like a fan.

See Achene.

The first shoot of a seedling or the primary leaf bud of an embryo. cf. Radicle


A dehiscent dry fruit. Usually used to describe leguminous fruits. Also a term which is often used in a general and not particularly critical sense and applied to fruits in non-leguminous families.

A thickened section at the apex of the style which is in contact with the dehiscing anthers and to which the pollen adheres. The shape of the structure varies considerably depending on the species. Found especially in the family Proteaceae.

Aggregated waxy masses of pollen grains (the individual pollen grains often not discernible) transferred as a unit of pollination.

Of many carpels. A pistil consisting of many carpels. cf. Unicarpellate

Seeds with more than one embryo within each seed coat. This feature is encountered in a number of species, e.g. Mango - Mangifera indica and some species of Syzygium. Not to be confused with many seeds in a fruit.

A + circular opening through which the pollen is shed.

As though bitten off.

Roots growing down to the soil from the lower stem or branches.

Lying flat.

Apparently terminal but closer inspection reveals that it is not truly terminal.

Usually used to describe the arrangement of leaves on a twig. The leaves appear to be whorled but closer inspection reveals that they are in fact in a tight spiral, e.g. Neolitsea dealbata, Lophostemon confertus and Terminalia catappa.

Minutely pubescent with very short, soft and erect hairs.

Slightly covered with minute soft and erect hairs.

Covered with short, soft and erect hairs.

See Pulvinus.

A fleshy swelling on the petiole at its junction with the leaf blade. Often associated with an angle or change in direction of the petiole. Swellings at the junction of the petiole and the twig are not regarded as pulvini. In the case of compound leaves, a swelling at the junction of the leaflet stalk and leaflet blade is regarded as a pulvinus.

Marked with dots, spots, pits or glands.

Ending in a sharp and rigid point.

See pustulate.

Covered by small blister-like pimples or bubbles.

The "stone", i.e. endocarp + seed of a succulent fruit. Usually used in the case of fruits which contain more than one "stone", e.g. Vitex sp.





An indeterminate inflorescence in which the flowers are arranged on a single axis, each flower stalked.

Like a raceme.

Like a raceme.

See Rhachis.

Spreading from or arranged round a common centre.

Radiating lines of grooves or ridges.

The portion of the embryo which will form the root or the root of a germinating seed. cf. Plumule

Pertaining to the branches. Usually used to describe inflorescences borne on the major branches in the crown of a tree. cf. Axillary, Cauline, Terminal

Flowers borne on the branches in the crown of a tree.

Small needle-shaped crystals in or amongst the cells of plants. Commonly found in Araceae.

A floret with a strap-like or tubular corolla, attached to the outer edge of the flower head in the family Asteraceae.

The axis of the flower bearing the various organs such as ovary, stamens, etc.

Curved backwards or downwards. Often used to describe a leaf margin which is bent downwards.

Abruptly or sharply bent downwards or backwards. Used to describe a number of organs, e.g. sepals, petals, stamens, staminodes, bracts, etc.

Kidney-shaped, e.g. sheep kidney.

With an appearance like that of a fish net.

See Reticulate.

Directed backwards or downwards.

With a shallow notch at a rounded or blunt apex.

Vegetative shoots on the stem and branches which have many of the characteristics of the shoots and leaves on seedlings rather than those on adult shoots.

The axis or main stem of an inflorescence or pinnate leaf.

See raphides.

A plant which grows on creek and river banks and which has adaptations which allow it to survive floods and strong currents.

Shaped like a rhombus, i.e. an equilateral oblique angled quadrangular figure.

Narrowed into a slender tip or point.

Poorly developed and non functional. Used to describe organs in specialized flowers, e.g. the ovary-like structure in a male flower, viz. rudimentary ovary.




Somewhat wrinkled.

A term used to describe endosperm or cotyledons which have a mottled or striped appearance resulting from the intrusion of the testa (seed coat) into the tissue.


Bag-shaped or pouched.

Enlarged at the base into two acute lobes like some arrowheads.

An indehiscent winged fruit which is the product of a single carpel or a complete flower.

With a texture of sandpaper.

A fleshy seed coat as found in some Cycadaceae and Dysoxylum spp.


Rough, with a sandpapery feel due to the presence of many spicules. cf. Muricate

Leaf-like structures which do not develop fully into true leaves.

A margin which is crenate. A bark surface marked by shallow + circular depressions.

Climbing by any means.

A leafless floral axis or peduncle arising from the ground.

Thin, dry and membranous.

Stiff-leaved; most eucalypts fall into this category. Normally used to describe forest types, e.g. wet sclerophyll forest = Eucalyptus grandis forest in north east Queensland.

Marked by shallow depressions or pits.


A predominantly Queensland term for rain forest.

Scaly, covered with small flakes.

A flat but slightly dished oval object.

Parts or organs arising from or directed to one side only.

The fertilized and matured ovule of a plant.

The young plant shortly after germination.

A particular type of germination when the cotyledons remain at or slightly below ground level and emerge from the seed coat and usually become photosynthetically active.

Flat + leaf-shaped organs usually produced in a whorl outside the petals and the fertile organs, i.e. ovary and stamens. Sepals are usually firm in texture and frequently green.

Divided internally by partitions.

The dehiscence of a fruit which splits along lines corresponding to the partitions between locules.

Clothed in appressed silky hairs.

Toothed, the teeth asymmetrical and pointing forward like the teeth on a large circular saw.

Without a stalk.

A bristle or bristle-shaped structure.


Plural of seta.

Beset with bristles.

Covered with bristles.

Tubular in structure and enclosing another structure, e.g. the stipules on many figs (Ficus spp.).

With a short stem.

Curved twice in opposite directions.

A dry dehiscent fruit, long and narrow.

Usually used to describe structures such as leaf margins with a number of regular curved indentations or small lobes. Not to be confused with undulate.

With many curves, snake-like.

A curve or bend.

To drag a log out of the forest usually by means of a crawler tractor or similar mechanical device.

A narrow track through the forest along which a log or number of logs have been removed.

A spike with a somewhat enlarged and fleshy axis. e.g. Araceae.

A large bract enclosing a flower cluster.

Often used to describe leaves and other organs which are broad and rounded at the apex and narrowed towards the base.

A small spike or spine.

An inflorescence where the flowers are arranged on a single axis and the individual flowers lack stalks.


Spiny, having spines.

Covered or beset with small spines.

One of the male organs of the flower consisting of a pollen bearing anther and a filament (stalk).

A structure resembling stamens to some degree but not producing pollen grains. Often found in female flowers.

The broad, upper, + erect petal of a papilionaceous (fabaceous) flower.


The structure on the pistil upon which pollen is deposited and from where it can fertilize the ovules. Usually found at the apex of the style or the apex of the ovary or carpel if the style is not developed.

A stalk; often used to describe a stalk on an ovary.

See Stipellae.

The equivalent of stipules but found on compound leaves near the point of attachment of leaflet stalks.


Possessing stipules.

Small growths on the twig, generally found in pairs, one on each side of the twig at the junction of the petiole and the twig. Stipules frequently fall off early in life and the only indication of stipules is the presence of scars on the twig. Stipules are best seen on fresh succulent shoots. Figs (Ficus spp.) and some other trees have sheathing stipules, i.e. stipules which enclose the apical bud on each twig. Stipules are readily seen on the commonly cultivated hibiscus.

A slender branch or shoot which takes root and eventually develops into a new plant.

Arranged one above the other, i.e. in layers.

Marked by parallel lines either grooves or ridges.

Clothed in stiff, straight, + appressed hairs. cf. Hispid, Muricate and Scabrous.

Usually used to describe the bark on a particular group of eucalypts which have thick but very fibrous bark.

Marked by minute lines.

The attenuated part of the pistil usually attached at the apex of the ovary and usually ending in the stigma.

A term used to describe the situation in families such as Apocynaceae and Asclepiadaceae where the styles from separate carpels are fused to form a single stigma-like structure at the apex.

Nearly cordate.

Nearly cylindrical.

Nearly equal.

Nearly glabrous.

Nearly globose.

Nearly globular.

Nearly at the middle, e.g. bracts about the middle of the pedicel in some Annonaceae.

Nearly opposite.

Nearly orbicular.

Nearly kidney-shaped.

The subrhytidome is a very thin layer of living bark just beneath the dead bark and before the outer blaze proper begins. It can be a very different colour from the outer blaze or it may be almost the same colour and continuous with it

Nearly sessile.

Nearly tropical.

Awl-shaped, narrow and tapering to a point but thick enough in cross section to make it stiff and hard.

When an ovary is positioned above the point of attachment of the calyx or corolla.

Placed vertically above.

A junction or line of dehiscence.

Composed of two or more united carpels.


Containing tannin (dark astringent component of the bark of many species especially Acacia and Eucalyptus but also found in other organs).

Plural of taxon.

Any recognizable taxonomic unit or entity, e.g. a species, genus, family, etc.

One of the climatic regions of the world. In the Southern Hemisphere the area between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle.

The term used to describe perianth segments when it is not clear whether they are sepals or petals.

Cylindrical, circular in transverse section.

Produced at the apex of an organ or structure. cf. Axillary, Ramal, Cauline

Broken up into flakes which are nearly square or rectangular in outline forming a regular pattern. This is an uncommon bark-type in rain forest.

The outer seed coat.

A term sometimes used for the anther cells.

Minutely tomentose.

Clothed in dense, matted, woolly hairs.

Slightly tomentose.

The circular, shaved area on a monk's head.

Twisted and bent in different directions.

Long and narrow but swollen at regular intervals. cf. Moniliform

The receptacle of a flower, the part of the axis to which the organs are attached.

The elastic structure holding the pollen masses.

Across, crossways as in left to right.

A group of three.

A collective term to describe any unbranched epidermal outgrowth, e.g. hair, bristle, prickle, etc.


With three leaves.

With three leaflets.

With three lobes.

With three veins, usually the midrib and two lateral veins.

When a compound leaf is divided three times to form leaflets. A bipinnate leaf where the leaflets have been divided again. cf. Bipinnate.

Three-veined. The leaf has a midrib or main central longitudinal vein and two main veins (of similar thickness) running more or less parallel to the margin of the leaf blade but some distance from it. The two main lateral veins may approximate the midrib in thickness and extend halfway up the leaf blade or approach the apex.

Three veined, a synonym of trinerved.

Three-angled in cross section.

A term used to describe an orifice opening along three radial lines.

Ending abruptly as though cut off.

Clothed in knobbly or wart-like projections.

Small wart-like outgrowths.

Hollow and dilated at one end like a trumpet.



A cell or growth intruding into a duct or vessel. A characteristic of the vessels in the heartwood of trees.


An indeterminate inflorescence in which individual flower stalks arise at the same point of attachment.

Resembling an umbel, or with the inflorescence in umbels.

Equipped with a knob or projection near the centre of the organ.

The lower level of vegetation in a forest.

See Understory.

A term used to describe the margins of leaves which are wavy (not flat) but not indented as in sinuate margins.

Consisting of one carpel. cf. Polycarpellate

A compound leaf which has been reduced in the evolutionary process to one leaflet. Easily mistaken for a simple leaf and therefore coded as Simple (L3) and Compund (L4) in this key.

With one locule.

With one main nerve or vein.

Possessing only one type of sexual organ, either pistils or stamens but not both.



Usually applied to sepals and petals whose edges meet and touch but do not overlap. cf. Imbricate.

The partially detached flap on an anther where movement permits or prevents the release of pollen.

Velvety, clothed in fine soft hairs.

The arrangement of veins in a leaf or other organ.

Attached to the inner surface as opposed to the outer surface. cf. dorsifixed

Covered with numerous small bumps or wart-like processes.

Swinging freely about the point of attachment.

A small bladder or cavity.

Composed of vessels or bladders.

The remains or trace of an organ which has largely disappeared during evolutionary processes.

Clothed in long, weak hairs.



Western Australia. The Kimberley Region, being Western Australia north of 19° S, extending from Broome in the west to the Northern Territory border.

Covered in warts.

The arrangement of organs in a circle around a central axis, e.g. the branches on the stem of a Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii).

Any membranous expansion attached to an organ; the lateral petal of a papilionaceous (fabaceous) flower.


The woody part of a plant, e.g. the stem of a tree.


Usually refers to flowers that can only be bisected by one vertical plane to produce similar halves. cf. Actinomorphic

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