Glossary of Horticultural Usage
The word meanings as defined in this glossary are in context of how they apply to fruit growing. Some terms may have additional common English language meanings that are not included here.
Soil with a pH less than 7.0. An acid soil is usually low in lime. Also caused by application of high amounts of acid-forming fertilizer. Most often found in rainy climates.
A single-celled, dry, indehiscent fruit. Example: the “seeds” of a strawberry.
see Acid soil.
Chemical reaction that occurs in the presence of oxygen.
Fruit developed from a flower with many pistils that ripen simultaneously. Example: blackberry or raspberry.
Providing the ability for a cold air mass to move to a lower elevation.
Soil with a pH greater than 7.0. Most often found in arid or desert climates. Can be modified by the addition of sulphur.
see Alkaline soil.
The ability of one plant to suppress growth of another by means of excreted toxic compounds.
Chemical reaction that takes place in the absence of oxygen.
A plant that grows, bears fruit and dies within a single season.
(Male) pollen bearing part of the flower. This pollen sack is borne atop the filament. Together the anther and filament make up the stamen.
Reproduction other than by seed. Vegetative propagation; budding, grafting as example.
A bud arising at the axil or base of a node or leaf petiole.
Ball and burlap
Tree is dug, sold and transplanted with soil left around the roots. Burlap is commonly wrapped around the dug tree roots to keep the soil in place. Sometimes referred to as B & B.
Trees or bushes sold without their roots in soil. The root is usually wrapped in wet sphagnum for shipping. Bare-root plants are usually dug, shipped, and planted while dormant.
External tissue layer of woody perennial plant.
Condition under which rootstock bark is easily pulled away from the tissue below. Occurs during active growth phase of the tree and is necessary when performing certain propagation techniques.
Arising from the base of the stem or shoot.
Age at which first blossoms and fruit are usually.
A simple fruit with a fleshy pericarp.
A plant having a two year life cycle. The first year growth is typically vegetative. The second year the plant fruits and dies.
Tendency to produce a crop only every other year. A heavy crop is produced in the “on-year.” The following, or “off-year,” little to no bloom or fruit is produced. Sometimes also known as alternate bearing.
Pest control by means other than synthetic chemical. Parasites, predators, or naturally occurring chemicals are usually considered biological controls.
Physiological disorder caused by calcium deficiency. Appears as small, dark, round depressions on skin of affected apples.
Translucent waxiness found on the skin of blueberries, grapes, plums, and blackberries.
Intermittent light red tint on the fruit skin.
Method of propagation in which a single scion bud is grafted to a rootstock piece.
Small strip of rubber or plastic used to secure grafts.
Modified leaf or scale that serves as protective cover for an unopened bud.
A soil with a pH higher than 7 due to free carbonate content.
Plant cell tissue overgrowth that develops in response to a wound, cut, or graft. In a graft, the callus will eventually form the graft union.
The cup between the flower and its stem. The collective group of the sepals of an individual flower. End of the fruit opposite the stem.
Thin layer of cell tissue between the bark and wood of a tree that is the origin of new growth.
Decayed or diseased area of the tree bark, usually exhibiting signs of gumming or oozing sap.
The “umbrella” or above ground portion of the tree formed by the branches and leaves.
Starch, sugar, or cellulose formed by a plant.
The portion of the pistil containing the ovule.
Cation exchange capacity (CEC)
A measure of positively charged ions that can be held on the surface of soil particles and replaced by other cations.
Single main trunk that grows vertically in the center of a tree and emerges at the top. One of several pruning systems used for fruit trees. Most used with apple.
Number of hours required below 45 degrees F in order for a fruit tree to break dormancy, grow, flower, and fruit properly.
Green pigment in the leaf that is essential for photosynthesis.
A lack or loss of chlorophyll in the foliage that appears as yellowing of the leaves. Common symptom of nitrogen or other nutrient deficiency. Can also be caused by herbicide misuse.
Soil of mineral particles less than 0.002 mm in size. Has high moisture holding capacity.
Asexual form of reproduction resulting in clone offspring.
Offspring that is genetically identical to its parent.
Area where a branch grows out of the tree trunk.
A fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. It may also contain minor elements.
Decoratively pruned tree having several tiers of horizontally growing branches. Also permanent horizontal extensions of a grapevine trunk that bear fruiting spurs
Transfer of pollen from one flower to another.
Angle formed where a branch joins the main trunk or a side branch grows off a main branch.
A plant that flowers independent of photoperiod.
Plant that sheds its leaves at the end of each growing season.
Condition of having lost leaves.
An accumulation of heat units based on average temperatures above a given threshold. For fruit growing the use of a baseline of 42°F (DD42) or 50°F (DD50) is commonly used.
Act of becoming a fruiting or a vegetative bud.
A form of vegetative propagation where the plant crown is split into multiple smaller plants capable of growing independently.
Fruit varieties considered to have their origin in European or North American climate as opposed to Asian or tropical climates. This term is most commonly used with grapes.
The condition of being dormant.
Period during which active growth is suspended, but the plant is capable of growth given proper conditions.
To prune while the tree is dormant or during the dormant season (typically during the winter or very early spring).
Occurrence of two competing, vertical growing shoots.
Boundary of the area to which the branch tips extend. Rain drips to the ground at this boundary and forms a drip line on the ground.
Able to withstand lack of water or moisture stress conditions.
A fleshy fruit developed from a single carpel, made up of a hard stone surrounded by flesh and skin.
A tree of smaller size than a seedling would typically produce. Usually achieved by grafting to dwarfing rootstock, manipulative pruning, plant breeding, or withholding nutrients.
The part of a trickle irrigation system through which water is deposited near the plant root system.
Excessive washing or blowing away of soil particles.
Decorative fruit tree trained to grow flat against a support trellis or wall.
Producing more than one fruit crop in a season, typically summer and fall. Most often referring to strawberries, but sometimes incorrectly also applied to primocane bearing raspberries.
Hard, external support covering of an insect.
The transfer of genetic information between male and female flower parts in the process of pollination.
Accumulated heat within a just harvest fruit.
Stalk that supports the anther. Male flower part.
The second year cane of a bramble, capable of bearing fruit.
Specialized reproductive structure.
Bud containing tissue that has differentiated to become flower parts rather than tissue that will produce shoots.
Excretion produced by an insect larva.
Damage to tissue by cold weather. The threshold for freeze damage will vary with plant species. Temperate zone fruit will typically not be damaged when temperatures stay above 32°F, while many tropical fruit will suffer damage at temperatures above this.
Grape varieties developed by crossing grapes of native American parentage with those of European parentage.
Low lying area, prone to an accumulation of cold air.
Seed bearing part of the plant containing the mature ovary and related reproductive tissue.
Manner of fruiting and location of fruit on the tree.
Proper completion of the fertilization process, exhibited by swelling of the ovary.
Organism with no chlorophyll, leaves, or flowers that reproduces by spores. Often responsible for fruit tree diseases. (plural: fungi).
Chemical used to control fungi and the diseases they cause.
Fruit tree that, as a result of breeding, grows naturally small in size without additional manipulation.
Initial growth of a seed or pollen grain.
1. Chewing all the way around a tree trunk by rodents.
2. Accidental constriction of branch growth by a wire or tie.
3. To sharply cut rings into the bark surface with the purpose of encouraging blossom production.
Area where scion and rootstock tissue are joined and grow together.
Uniting scion and rootstock tissue to produce additional trees. see budding.
Vegetative crop that is grown and plowed under to enhance soil. Usually an annual grain or legume.
The base color of the fruit skin; normally green, signals harvest maturity by changing or lightening in color.
Natural tendency to grow in a certain shape or form (e.g. upright vs. spreading).
The practice of removing immature fruit from the tree by selective hand picking for the purpose of increasing fruit size and quality or removing pest damaged fruit by non-chemical means.
Slowing of active growth in preparation to withstand cold temperature.
Degree to which a plant is hardy.
Impervious layer of soil.
Method of vegetative propagation in which mature, often dormant wood is rooted.
Able to withstand severe cold temperatures or to winter-over without protection.
To cut back a branch to a weakly growing lateral branch.
Row of closely planted trees, grown for decorative purposes or as protection from wind.
To lay the tree at an angle and bury the roots in order to temporarily hold the tree if planting time is delayed.
A plant where an insect or disease can live.
Genetic cross of two plant species or varieties.
Inability of scion and rootstock to form a strong graft union. Inability of pollen grain and egg to successfully form a fertilized egg that can mature.
Insect life stage that occurs between two successive molts.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Pest and disease control system based on understanding of fruit production as a total, interrelated cycle. Incorporates timing of manmade controls with existing natural controls to be least damaging to the natural environment. Uses selective control rather than broad spectrum controls.
The shoot area between two nodes.
Section of rootstock grafted between scion and another rootstock, mainly to overcome incompatibility or adaptation problems.
Period approximately 15–30 days after full bloom when poorly pollinated, unfertilized, non-viable or excess fruit drop from the tree so that the fruit tree can more easily support the crop load and tree growth.
Vegetative growth phase early in a tree’s life, during which it does not produce fruit.
First (and strongest) bloom to open in a flower cluster.
Immature wingless insect life-form that follows egg hatch. (plural: larvae).
Side branch growing off of a primary scaffold branch.
A bud growing on the side rather than the end of a branch.
Washing away of minerals in the soil due to percolating water.
The most vigorous upward growing branch.
Side sheltered from the wind.
Pore in the fruit skin or on the woody stem through which gases are exchanged between air and plant tissue.
Ground limestone applied to the soil to raise pH.
Soil composed of varying amounts of sand, silt, and clay.
Long handled pruning tool used to cut branches to large in diameter for a pruning shear.
Requiring minimal (generally less than 400 hours) exposure to temperatures below 40 degrees in order to break dormancy.
Stage of development when fruit has achieved its highest eating or storage quality.
A marked change in physical form (as in change from a worm to a winged insect).
Localized area of uniform climate.
System of pruning in which a leader is encouraged during the tree’s early life and then gradually suppressed by heading back. Commonly used in cherry, pear and plum.
Condition where rainfall has not returned soil moisture to field capacity.
To periodically cast off an exoskeleton.
Dark, mineralized soil where the original organic matter is no longer recognizable.
Organic material placed on the soil to conserve soil moisture, maintain even temperature or control weeds.
A virus like organism that can cause plant diseases.
Death of plant tissue.
Microscopic worm-like parasite that feeds on tree roots.
Ability of bacteria within legume roots to convert atmospheric nitrogen for use by the plant.
Point where a leaf is attached to a shoot.
A small wedge shaped cut taken from a branch to encourage or inhibit bud break.
Elements necessary for plant growth.
Immature insect stage differing mostly in size from the adult.
Pruning system where branches are pruned to a vase shape with the center of the tree remaining open. Commonly used with peaches.
1. Containing carbon
2. Having a natural origin as opposed to a synthetic origin.
Decayed leaves, roots, or wood that are part of the soil.
Female flower part. Enlarged base of the pistil that protects the ovules.
Survive cold winter temperatures in a dormant state.
Female flower part. The “egg” containing the genetic nucleus.
A plant, propagated by rooting cuttings as opposed to grafting.
Disease causing organism.
Plant that grows for many years, with new growth each season.
The wall of a ripened ovary.
A substance that is used to kill pests. This includes insecticides (kills insects), fungicide (kills fungi), herbicide (kills weeds), bactericide (kills bacteria) or nematicide (kills nematodes). The substance can be a natural material or one that is synthetically produced.
Showy, colored portion of a flower that serves to attract insects.
The leaf stalk.
Logarithmic scale from 0 to 14 that is used to express the acidity or alkalinity of the soil.
The study of recurring biological events and their correlation with climatic conditions. For gardening purposes, particularly pest development that corresponds with fruit growth stages and development.
Process of converting water and atmospheric carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, with the help of chlorophyll in the leaves and sunlight.
Female reproductive structure within the flower, made up of stigma, style, and ovary.
A flower with female characteristics.
Cutting tool on the end of a long pole, used to prune hard to reach branches.
Male carrier of genetic material.
Organism that assists the pollination process, usually a bee.
Necessary part of the reproductive process where pollen is transferred from the stamen to the pistil.
Fleshy fruit where several seeds are surrounded by a core.
Tending to bear fruit at a young age.
Spherical, pelletized fertilizer granule.
A first year, vegetative bramble cane.
Removal of diseased, broken or improperly located branches to maintain or improve tree health.
Soft, hair-like covering on the underside of leaves.
Dormant, immature life stage of an insect that undergoes complete metamorphosis.
Cramped growth of roots caused by growing in too small a container.
Root material onto which a productive and useful fruit variety is grafted.
Shoot originating below ground from the roots or rootstock of a tree.
Small, tight cluster of leaves growing in a bunch due to poor shoot growth. Can be symptom of boron or zinc deficiency.
A modified stem that sends out new plants at its tip.
Coarse textured soil particle.
Primary branches that arise from the tree trunk and form the main structure of the canopy.
Plant tissue grafted to the rootstock to eventually form the fruit bearing portion of the tree bush, or vine.
Tree produced by growing from seed rather than by grafting.
A plant able to pollinate itself and successfully produce fruit.
A plant requiring cross-pollination by another variety than itself in order to successfully produce fruit.
Inability of a blossom to be pollinated by a blossom of its own variety. Self-sterile.
Leaf-like structure surrounding a flower bud and eventually supporting an open flower.
To drop from the vine when ripe.
Developmental stage in stone fruit where the last of the flower is shed away from around the developing fruit.
A soil particle intermediate in size between sand and clay.
To chew away leaf or bud tissue so that only the veins (or skeleton) remain.
Cutting of succulent growth that is propagated by rooting.
Composition of the soil. Sand, loam, or clay.
Fineness of the particle size of the soil type.
Longitudinal splitting of the tree bark in winter, usually on the southwest side of the tree, caused by uneven expansion of trunk tissue that is heated by sun reflecting off bright snow.
A full-season dose of fertilizer applied in multiple smaller doses over several weeks time.
Modified, compactly growing branch that primarily bears fruit buds.
Male flower part containing pollen-bearing anthers that are supported on a stalk known as the filament.
Have male flower characteristics.
Size of a mature tree that is grown from a seedling of the given species. Normally used as a measure against which to express the size of a dwarf rootstock.
Female flower part that is sticky and receptive to pollen.
Fruit containing one central pit.
The stem bearing a cluster of currants.
Female flower structure that supports the stigma.
An underground shoot arising from the rootstock.
A crop or plant that germinates in summer and dies that same season.
see Southwest Injury.
A grape used primarily for eating fresh rather than wine or juice production.
Area between the Tropic of Cancer and the North Pole that experiences annual change of warm and cold seasons.
Bud at the end of a branch, that when it grows develops new shoot growth.
1. Removal of excess fruit from the tree.
2. Removal of excess vegetative growth to allow sunlight into the interior of the tree.
Propagation technique that produces new plants by rooting the tip of existing canes or vines.
Pinching or pruning the growing tip of a shoot for the purpose of encouraging side branching or controlling the length of the shoot.
Clonal propagation technique where new plants are produced from meristem tissue at the shoot tip.
Variations in elevation of a parcel of land. Toxicity. Poisoning of the plant by an overdose of fertilizer or sensitivity to a pesticide.
Poisoning of the plant by an overdose of fertilizer or sensitivity to a pesticide.
To spread and position tree branches so that they develop a strong, well balanced tree structure.
A fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.
Having three times the monoploid number of chromosomes. Fruit varieties that are triploid have sterile pollen.
Group of closely related plants within the same species. A species subgroup that shares traits common to the species, but has its own individual characteristics. see cultivar.
An insect or nematode that aids in the transmission of a virus from one plant to another.
Soil with poor drainage, standing water, and insufficient oxygen for root growth.
Rapidly growing shoot that grows from latent buds in the tree branches or trunk.
The natural level of water within a given geographical area.
Newly planted tree with side branches (and often a portion of the leader) pruned off to encourage vigorous new growth.
Collection of three or more branches radiating around the trunk.
Crop that germinates in late winter/early spring and dies at the end of the growing season.
To separate leaves, branches, and other debris from harvested fruit.
Put your new vocabulary to use growing your fruit garden. Buy The Backyard Orchardist: A complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden or buy The Backyard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to growing berries, brambles and vine fruit in the home garden to learn all the hands-on “how-to. ”
©2014TheBackYardFruitGardener.com Adapted from The Backyard Orchardist: A complete guide to growing fruit trees in the home garden and The Backyard Berry Book: A hands-on guide to growing berries, brambles and vine fruit in the home garden by Stella Otto