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Glossary

Term Definitionsort descending
Habitat The sum total of all environmental factors in the physical place occupied by an organism, population or community.
Forage (noun) Food for grazing and browsing animals. (verb) The act of obtaining food by grazing and browsing animals.
AOSCA Acronym for the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies.
Arctic zone The region north of the Arctic Circle.
Artificial selection Human intervention in plant reproduction to ensure that certain desired characteristics are found in successive generations.
Association of Official Seed Analysts An organization comprised of official federal, state and university seed laboratories and whose primary function is to establish uniform rules for seed testing.
Association of Official Seed Certifying Agenc An organization dedicated to regulating the production, identification, distribution and promotion of certified classes of seed and other crop propagation materials.
Active growth period The period of time that a particular plant has its most active growth or the main time of growth for a plant.
Browse (noun) Shrubs, trees and herbs eaten by grazing animals. (verb) The act of eating shrubs, trees and/or herbs.
Aggressive invader A highly competitive species that can take over if the environmental conditions are right.
Agronomic Of or related to the science of soil management and the production of crops.
Alkaline/alkali tolerant The ability to withstand alkaline soils.
Soil texture A characteristic of soil that is determined by the amount of sand, silt, and clay in a particular soil. General texture designations include medium, fine (clayey), and coarse (sandy).
pH A classification system used for describing acid and basic materials. The system is a scale from 0 to 14 with 7 being neutral. Measurements below 7 indicate increasing acidity and numbers greater than 7 indicate increasing alkalinity (basic conditions).
Inflorescence A cluster of flowers segregated from other flowers on the same plant.
Cover crop A crop of plants that are planted for temporary purposes such as to provide erosion control and protection to establishing perennials. Cover crops may also be used to improve soil condition by plowing under and incorporating into the soil profile.
Green manure crop A crop that is grown and then tilled into the soil before it flowers to increase soil fertility and organic material content.
Cultivar A cultivated plant that is clearly distinguishable from other plants of the same species by one or more traits and when reproduced will retain those traits.
Plant Variety Protection Office A division of the USDA, located in Beltsville,MD and responsible for administering the Plant Variety Protection Act.
National Certified Variety Review Board: A divison of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) that review applications for entering varieties into the certified seed program.
Seed test A document describing the contents of a seed sample. Information includes species name, variety, percent seed purity, which includes pure seed of tested species, other crop seed, weed seed and inert material percentages. Also included is the seed viability (percent germination, dormant and hard seed) and the names of any weed or crop seeds.
Heavy soil A fine grained soil that is high in clay and/or silt content.
Wildflower A flowering plant found growing in a natural and uncultivated state.
Ecosystem A functional unit consisting of the living organisms (plants, animals, and microbes) in a given area, and all the non-living physical and chemical factors of their environment, linked together through nutrient cycling and energy flow. An ecosystem can be of any size-a log, pond, field, forest, or the earth's biosphere-but it always functions as a whole unit
Drought tolerant A general and relative term used to describe a plant's ability to withstand prolonged periods without water. Synonymous to drought hardy.
Drought hardy A general and relative term used to describe a plant's ability to withstand prolonged periods without water. Synonymous to drought tolerant.
Cold hardy A general definition describing a plant’s ability to withstand temperatures below freezing.
Ecoregion A geographic area of relative homogeneity characterized by distinct ecological factors such as climate, topography, soils, plants and animals.
County Extension Agent A government employee who serves as a consultant and advisor on such subjects as agriculture, education and home economics. Easily found by contacting a college or university.
Strain A group of individuals of the same species that have distinctive characteristics but that are not usually considered a different variety.
Clone A group of plants that are genetically identical and have descended from a single common ancestor, such as a grove of aspen trees.
Forb A herbaceous plant that is not a grass, grass-like or woody. It is a broadleaved herb.
Stolon A horizontal stem which grows along the surface of the soil and which propogates vegetatively by forming new shoots and roots at its nodes.
Seed tag A legal document describing the contents of a seed lot and the party responsible for providing this information.
Raceme A long inflorescence with individual flowers borne on short, unbranched side stalks off a larger central stalk.
Seed stratification A method of pre-treating seeds to simulate natural conditions that a seed must endure before germination to allow the seed to overcome seed dormancy.
Drill seeding A method of seeding that uses a seed drill to place seeds at a specific depth and spacing. Contrast with broadcast seeding which involves scattering the seed on the surface of the soil.
Mine spoil A mixture of rocks, rock fragments, soil and other natural materials that result from surface mining operations.
Invasive plant A non-native plant that is likely to cause environmental harm or harm to human health.
Ornamental A plant grown for its beauty and esthetic value.
Weed A plant out of place or growing where it is unwanted.
Hybrid cross A plant resulting from the crossbreeding between two different species.
Genetically appropriate species: A plant species adapted to site conditions (e.g., has good establishment, vigor, and reproductive capabilities), sufficiently diverse to respond to changing climates and environment conditions, unlikely to cause genetic contamination and undermine local adaptations, community interactions, and function of native species in the ecosystem; unlikely to become invasive and displace other native species, unlikely to be a source of non-native, invasive pathogens; likely to maintain critical connections with pollinators.
Native plant A plant species naturally found in the particular area in question.
Introduced plant A plant species that was not originally part of the plant community in which it is found
Dioecious A plant species whose male and female organs occur on different plants. Contrast with monoecious.
Monoecious A plant species whose male and female parts are found on the same plant but on different flowers. Contrast with dioecious.
Cool season A plant that completes most of its growth during the cooler periods of spring and fall. Contrast to warm season plant.
Warm season plant A plant that completes most of its growth during the warmer times of the year (summer).
Sod-former A plant that covers the surface of the soil and is held together by a dense network of roots.
Succulent A plant that has a specialized fleshy tissue in roots, stems, or leaves for the conservation of water. Most succulents are plants preferring dry climates, such as cactus or aloe, but some are found in wetter climates adapted for living in salty soils where water retention is a problem.
Crop A plant that is cultivated for a particular purpose.
Cold sensitive A plant that is easily damaged from temperatures below freezing.
Grass-like A plant that resembles a grass but it is not a true grass. For example, sedges are grass-like plants.
Evergreen A plant that retains its foliage throughout the year. Contrast with deciduous plant which sheds its foliage each year at the end of the growing season.
Deciduous plant A plant that sheds its foliage each year at the end of the growing season. Contrast with evergreen plant which retains its foliage throughout the year.
Indeterminate A plant whose flowering stem continues to grow and bear new flowers throughout it’s flowering period thereby resulting in flowers in all stages of development (from flower initiation to seed set) occurring on the same plant. The flowering sequence begins on the lower most flowers. Also see the definition for ‘determinate plant.’
Determinate plant A plant whose flowering stem terminates in a flower and blooming in a sequence that begins with the upper most flower. Also see ‘indeterminate plant.’
Stoloniferous A plant whose stem grows along the surface of the soil and propogates vegetatively by forming new shoots and roots at its nodes.
Ecotype A population within a species which is genetically adapted to a habitat that is different from other habitats in which other populations of the same species is found.
Fibrous root system A root system comprised of many small, sinewy and widely spread roots and lacking a taproot.
Tiller A shoot of a plant, springing from the root or bottom of the original stalk.
Mesic A site that has a moderate or well balanced supply of moisture.
Sodic soil A soil that has high sodium content
Climax community A stage in ecological development in which a community of organisms is stable (less likely to change over time) and capable of perpetuating itself.
Dwarf strain A variety of a plant that has been altered to make it shorter than the original plant.
Restricted noxious weeds A weed that has been identified by state regulators as a threat to the environment if it occurs in relatively dense stands. Seeds from restricted noxious weeds are permitted to be sold, but only in small quantities. For the number of seeds of restricted weeds that are permitted in seed lots see the State Noxious Weed Seed List in the Seed Labeling section of the Technical Guidelines section of this website.
Shrub A woody perennial plant that is generally less than 10 feet tall and has several woody stems, none of which is dominant (unlike a tree that has a single stem). Under certain conditions some forbs become shrubs and some shrubs become trees.
Pure-live-seed Abreviated (PLS, is a measure used by the seed industry to describe the percentage of a quantity of seed that will germinate. PLS is obtained by multiplying the purity percentage by the percentage of total viable seed, then dividing by 100.
Riparian An area of land adjacent to a stream, river, lake or wetland that contains vegetation that, due to the presence of water, is distinctly different from the vegetation of adjacent upland areas.
Wetland An area that is regularly saturated by surface water or groundwater and is characterized by a prevalence of vegetation that is adapted for life in saturated soil conditions (eg, swamps, bogs, fens, marshes, and estuaries).
Functional ecosystem An ecosystem that is fully self-perpetuating without requiring management inputs from man to maintain its stability.
Crude protein content An estimation of nutritional protein content of the plant calculated by determining its nitrogen content and multiplying that figure by 6.25. Referred to as ‘crude protein’ because this calculation does not take into account the non-protein nitrogen content of the plant, which is a very minor portion of total protein.
Naturalized species An introduced species that can consistently reproduce and sustain populations over successive generations without human intervention, and can coexist with other members of the ecosystem without becoming invasive.
Diploid An organism with a full set of paired chromosomes, one chromosome from each parental set.
Society of Commercial Seed Technologists: An organization that trains and provides accreditation of seed technologists, conducts research and proposes rule changes, and serves as an important resource to the seed industry.
Nurse crop Annuals or short-term perennials established as a companion crop to provide rapid soil stabilization to assist in the establishment of a more permanent plant community.
Habitat enhancement Any changes made to a habitat that serves to improve its value and ability to meet the requirements of one of more organisms.
Legume Any plant belonging to the legume (Leguminosae, formerly named Fabaceae) family. This family is also known as the pea family. Legumes have special interest to revegetation specialists because they fix nitrogen into the soil thereby reducing the need for adding fertilizers.
Range improvement Any practice designed to improve rangeland condition or facilitate more efficient utilization of the range.
Rangeland improvement Any practice designed to improve rangeland condition or facilitate more efficient utilization of the range.
Land revegetation As used in the Granite Seed Project Planner, land revegetation encompasses 'land restoration' (the re-creation of conditions that would allow the ecosystem to return to the characteristics that are ecologically representative of those prior to the land disturbance), and 'land rehabilitation' (the establishment of an ecosystem that is ecologically reminiscent of, but not representative of, the pre-disturbance ecosystem, including native and/or introduced species that are similar in ecological structure and function to species native to the site).
Rhizomatous Bearing rhizomes.
Soil stabilization Biological, chemical or mechanical treatment designed to improve or maintain the engineering properties of a mass of land.
Soil stabilization Biological, chemical or mechanical treatment designed to improve or maintain the engineering properties of a mass of land.
Nonbloat Bloat is the swelling of the digestive tract or rumen of a grazing animal resulting from excess gas production from eating certain legumes and green forage. Nonbloat referes to plants that do not cause this swelling.
Rust Generic term for various plant diseases, especially those caused by a group of parasitic fungi that attack the leaves and stems of plants.
Germination Germination is the percent of the number of seeds that, when tested, will develop from the seed embryo the essential structures necessary to produce a normal plant under favorable conditions.
Hay Grass and other plants such as alfalfa or clover that are cut and cured for use as animal feed.
Turfgrass Grass that is used for the purpose of establishing a lawn.
Sedge Grass-like plants of the Cyperaceae family, often found on wet ground or in water, usually with triangular, solid stems, three rows of narrow, pointed leaves and minute flowers borne in spikelets.
Hard seed Hard seed is the percent of the number of seeds that remain hard at the end of the testing period because they have not absorbed water because of an impermeable seed coat. Hard seed is generally considered to be seed that will germinate at a later date than seed reported in the % germination calculation.
Tetraploid Having four sets of chromosones; usually designated as 4X or 4N,
Perennial Herbaceous or woody plant species that lives a few years (short-lived perennial) or longer. It could be an evergreen species or one that goes dormant each year. Dormant perennials renew themselves from underground rootstocks.
Rhizomes Horizontally growing stems, usually underground, often sending out roots and shoots from its nodes.
Pioneer species In successional theory they are the species that are the first to naturally colonize a previously unoccupied habitat.
Rangeland Land on which the historic climax plant community is predominantly grasses, grass like plants, forbs, or shrubs. Includes lands revegetated naturally or artificially when routine management of that vegetation is accomplished mainly through manipulation of grazing. Rangelands include natural grasslands, savannas, shrub lands, most deserts, tundra, alpine communities, coastal marshes, and wet meadows.
Rangeland Land on which the historic climax plant community is predominantly grasses, grass like plants, forbs, or shrubs. Includes lands revegetated naturally or artificially when routine management of that vegetation is accomplished mainly through manipulation of grazing. Rangelands include natural grasslands, savannas, shrub lands, most deserts, tundra, alpine communities, coastal marshes, and wet meadows.
Pasture Land that is used for livestock grazing that is managed to provide feed.
Silage Livestock feed that is typically stored for later use and is prepared by fermenting.
Pasture improvement: Managing pasture to increase feed value for grazing aniimals while maintaining or improving soil, water and vegetative resources.
Upland birds Nonmigratory birds found on terrestrial habitats such as quail, pheasant, grouse, wild turkeys, etc.
Conspicuous Obvious to the eye.
Leguminous Of or characteristic of the legume family.
Xeric Of, characterized by, or adapted to an extremely dry environment.
Irrigated pasture Pasture that has a current supply of supplemental water.
Weed seed percentage Percentage, by weight, of seed that is weed seed.
Secondary succession Plant establishment into a recently disturbed habitat that was previously vegetated. See succession and primary succession.
Pre-varietal plant material Plant material that exhibits characteristics of a variety but has not been definitively proven to have traits that can be inherited by subsequent generations. It is usually material that is undergoing testing and awaiting conclusions. It may be field produced or harvested from natural stands. Synonymous to Selected Class
Selected class seed Plant material that exhibits characteristics of a variety but has not been definitively proven to have traits that can be inherited by subsequent generations. It is usually material that is undergoing testing and awaiting conclusions. It may be field produced or harvested from natural stands
Released plant material Plant material that has been made available to the public after approval by officials in the public or private sectors. It may be either a variety/cultivar or a pre-variety germplasm; be either local native, non-local native, or introduced in origin; originate from either a single location or multiple locations; and be developed using the plant breeding techniques of hybridization and artificial selection for certain performance characteristics ("genetically manipulated")or without such techniques ("natural").
Local native plant material Plant material that is the same species as plant material naturally occurring at the site and whose origin is from the region where it is being planted. It may be wildland-harvested, pre-varietal, or variety/cultivar plant material as long as the first generation of plant material came from the region where it is being planted.
Non-local native plant material: Plant material that is the same species as that occurring at the site but that does not originate from the region targeted for use
Salt tolerant plant Plant that thrives in saline soils.
Winter browse plant Plant used by wildlife and livestock in the winter as a source of browse.
Mass plantings Planting one or more species close together. Often done to reduce maintenance or obtain a visually dramatic effect.
Honey plant Plants from which nectar and pollen are collected by bees in order to make honey.
Understory plant Plants that grow beneath the canopy of other plants. For example, grasses, forbs, and shrubs growing under a tree are understory plants.
Plant Variety Protection Act Provides those who develop a new variety with patent-like rights that protect the reproduction and use of the variety.
Densely tufted Refers to a plant’s culms growing in very dense bunches.
Endophyte-free Refers to the absence of a group of fungi found in certain grasses and are toxic to grazing animals. Endophytes are especially troublesome in tall fescue. Be sure to plant endophyte free tall fescue if your objective grazing.
Calyx Refers to the group of sepals, or leaves, making up the flower.
Leaf spot Round shaped blemish occurring on the leaves of some plants that are caused by parasitic fungi or bacteria.
Variety See plant variety.
Site adapted seed Seed from plants that originate from similar ecological conditions to those found at the site where they are being planted.
Wildland harvested Seed or plant material that was harvested from a native or introduced plant community on uncultivated land.
Source identified seed Seed that has been harvested from natural stands or grown in field production, but has not been tested for its traits. It is produced under the auspices of the state and if it meets the requirements it is labeled as Source Identified Seed.
Registered seed Seed that has been produced from Foundation Seed. It is typically third generation seed.
Substandard certified seed Seed that has gone through the certification process but has failed the minimum mechanical purity and germination requirements may be tagged as Substandard certified seed. Doing so is completely up to the state certifying agency and is considered on a lot-by-lot basis.
Viable seed Seed that is able to germinate under favorable conditions. Viable seed includes seed that is dormant. See definition for total viable seed.
Certified Seed Seed that is produced, harvested, cleaned and tested under the regulations and supervision of a seed certifying entity such as members of the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies. The term is also used when referring to fourth generation seed produced from foundation seed. For more information, see the Certified Seed section in the Technical Guidelines section of the Granite Seed web site.
Saline soil Soil on which plant growth is usually dominated by salt tolerant plants, or void of any vegetation, and which, because of its high salt concentration, is problematic for agriculture.
Limestone soil Soil that has formed from limestone and as a result has a high soil pH.
Overseeding Sowing seeds in an area, where other plants are already growing, to promote new growth or fill gaps in the existing vegetation.
Underground stems Stems that run under the ground allowing a plant to spread. These can also be called stolons.
Succession Succession is a directional non-seasonal cumulative change in the types of plant species that occupy a given area through time.
PVP Synonym for Plant Variety Protection.
Total viability Takes into account the seed germination, dormancy and hard components.
Plant variety Taxonomic category consisting of members of a species that differ from others of the same species in traits that are identifiable and heritable.
Green up Term used to describe the initial period of plant growth.
Shade tolerance The ability of a plant to tolerate slightly to fully shaded areas. Tolerance varies greatly by species.
Disease resistant The ability to resist certain diseases. This characteristic is frequently sought after in plant breeding.
Winter hardy The ability to survive winter weather in a particular region.
PLS The acronym for pure live seed.
Hybridization The act of creating a hybrid
Subalpine zone The area between the continuously forested montane zone and the high elevation alpine zone. It is characterized by a mixture of alpine and forest shrubs and herbs interspersed with patches of trees.
Temperate zone The area or region between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle (in the northern hemisphere), or between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle (in the southern hemisphere).
Sheaths The base of a grass leaf that surrounds the stem.
Culm base The base of the stem on a plant.
Taxonomy, plant The classification of plants into an ordered system that indicates natural relationships.
Land reclamation The creation of an ecosystem that is substantially different ecologically from the endemic ecosystem, yet is compatible with existing land-use practices, such as grazing, recreation, or supplemental irrigation.
Digestibility The degree to which a plant material is able to be broken down and utilized by an animal.
Land rehabilitation The establishment of an ecosystem that is ecologically reminiscent of, but not representative of, the pre-disturbance ecosystem, including native and/or introduced species that are similar in ecological structure and function to species native to the site.
Primary succession The establishment of plants on land that has not been previously vegetated, such as land that has been created from a volcanic eruption.
Ecological niche The functional role an organism or population within a community or ecosystem including the resources it uses, how and when it uses the resources and how it interacts with other species and populations.
Seed dormancy The inability of a healthy seed to germinate under favorable conditions unless strategies are used by natural or artificial means to break the dormancy.
Water table The level below which the ground is completely saturated with water.
Taproot The main, vertically extending root of a plant from which lateral roots grow. See fibrous root system.
Date tested The most recent date that a seed lot has been tested for total seed viability (germination + dormant or hard seed).
Stand density The number of individuals in a given area.
Hybrid The offspring of genetically dissimilar parents. Hybrids are usually the result of crossing two species with different desirable characteristics for the purpose of creating offspring that would possess more of the desirable characteristics. Hybrids may also be created naturally without man’s influence.
Chromagen The part of a cell (or organelle) that converts a compound to a pigment.
Dormant seed The percent of the number of seeds, other than hard seed, that fail to germinate, but are determined to be viable by subjecting them to other seed testing techniques. Dormant seed is generally considered to be seed that will germinate at a later date than seed reported in the % germination calculation.
Purity The percent weight of the entire sample of each seed species or variety that is present in excess of 5% of the total.
Inert The percent weight of the sample that is not viable seed. It can include plant parts, broken seeds or other materials that are not viable seeds.
Ecosystem reconstruction The process of recreating the natural ecosystem in an area that has been disturbed.
Fall regrowth The process of responding to conditions conducive to growth in the fall resulting in a return to active growth.
Soil erosion The processes by which soil is removed from one place by forces such as wind, water, waves, glaciers, and construction activity and eventually deposited at some new place.
Seed yield The quantity of harvestable seed produced.
Land restoration The re-creation of conditions that would allow the ecosystem to return to the characteristics that are ecologically representative of those prior to the land disturbance.
Competition The simultaneous demand by two or more organisms for limited environmental resources, such as nutrients, living space, or light.
Established The state of a plant when it is adjusted to the site and is thriving.
Total viable seed percentage The sum of percent germination, percent dormant and/or percent hard seed.
Temporary soil stabilization The temporary binding or coating the soil with seed and/or erosion control products to protect the site from the erosive forces of wind and water. Temporary soil stabilization is used to reduce soil runoff from a disturbed site until a more permanent solution can be implemented.
Seral stage The term used for each successional stage of an ecosystem from a disturbed unvegetated states to a climax plant community.
Eligible crop The term used in seed certification referring to crops that have been approved by state, federal or international review boards to enter into the seed certification program
Foundation Seed This is seed that is produced from Breeder seed. Foundation seed is typically second-generation seed. However, in the event there is an inadequate quantity of Breeder seed available for multiplying the variety, the certifying agency can designate seed grown on a foundation field as Foundation seed
Noxious weeds Those plant species designated as noxious weeds by the Secretary of Agriculture or by the responsible state representative. Noxious weeds generally possess one or more of the following characteristics: aggressive and dificult to manage, poisonous, toxic, parasitic, a carrier or host of seriously destructive diseases or insects,
Seedling vigor Those seedling properties which determine the potential for the plant to continue its growth toward maturation under a wide range of field conditions.
Sterile Unable to produce viable seed.
High desert Usually refers to desert regions that experience cold winters.
Prohibited noxious weeds Weeds that the USDA or state agencies have designated as prohibited from sale. Seeds that are designated as Prohibited must be completely absent from seed lots that are to be used in the prohibited area. See the State Noxious Weed Seed list located on this site under Technical Guidelines, Seed Labeling.
Tree Woody perennial with a distinct central trunk.
American Seed Trade Association  A trade organization that focuses on the development of better seed through regulation, technology, and communication. Membership in this organization includes companies that are involved in seed production and distribution, plant breeding, and related industries in North America.
Annual  A plant that that completes its entire life cycle from seed through blooming and the development of seed in one year.
ASTA  Acronym for the American Seed Trade Association.
Basal density  The area that the base or stem of the plant covers at the surface of the soil.
Basic  Any soil with a pH above 7 on a scale of 1 to 14; the higher the number, the more basic the soil.
Beautification  As used in the Granite Seed web site, it refers to a project that emphasizes the use of wildflowers in a revegetation project.
Biennial  A plant which completes its life cycle in two years. Usually it produces leaves and roots the first year and then blooms and produces seed the second year.
Bloat/nonbloat  Bloat is the swelling of the digestive tract or rumen of a grazing animal resulting from excess gas production from eating certain legumes and green forage. Nonbloat referes to plants that do not cause this swelling.
Bracts  A leaf-like structure occurring at the base of a flower and are frequently colorful, as in poinsettias or flowering dogwoods.
Breeder Seed  The stock seed produced by the breeder of a cultivar and from which foundation seed is produced.
Broadcast seeding  A method of seeding that involves scattering seed on the surface of the soil. Contrast to drill seeding whereby seed is placed at a precise spacing and depth.
Bulk pound  A term used in the seed industry that refers to a pound of seed that does not take into account its purity and germination. A bulk pound is synonymous to a 16 ounce pound. Contrast to a ‘pure live seed pound’ which takes into account the seed’s purity and germination.
Bunchgrass  A grass that grows in clumps or bunches and has no prominent rhizomes or stolons in contrast to grass that forms a mat or turf.
Calcareous soil  Soil that is rich in calcium carbonate, usually derived from limestone or other calcium rich parent material.
Caliche soils  A kind of soil that was formed from the deposit of crystalline salts, such as sodium chloride or sodium nitrate and form a hard cemented layer of soil.
Alkaline soil  Any soil with a pH above 7 on a scale of 1 to 14; the higher the number, the more alkaline the soil.
Alluvial slopes  Rock, soil and other sediments deposited from erosion that creates a slope.
Alkalinity  The condition of having a pH greater than 7 on a scale of 1 to 14; the higher the number, the greater the alkalinity 
Accession A sample of a plant variety collected from a specific location