Glossary and Terms

This page contains a glossary of the more technical terms used in the Hornsby Herbarium, and describes how the terms 'flower colour', 'flower season' and 'threatened status' are used.


Angiosperm flowering plants, even if flower parts are missing
Culm the flowering stem of a grass or rush
Decumbent low plant spreading horizontally with stem ends turning up
Dicotyledon Flowering plants that germinate with two seed leaves; these include trees and shrubs, and a great variety of leaf forms
Epiphytic refers to a plant which grows on a rock or tree
Fruit refers to the seed-bearing structure after flowering
Gymnosperm plants with “naked” seeds, not enclosed in an ovary. These include the conifers and cycads
Introduced refers to plants thought to have been introduced to the Shire after white settlement. These include several Australian native plants, such as four Acacias, Brachchiton acerifolius the Illawarra flame tree.
Monocotyledons flowering plants which produce one seed leaf at germination. Many of these have strap like leaves, and most are herbaceous
Native refers to plants thought to have been in the Shire before white settlement
Pinna A primary segment of a divided leaf, such as in ferns
Rhizome an underground horizontal stem from which roots and shoots arise, hence “rhizomatous”
Saprophyte a plant deriving its nourishment from dead organic material. It often has no green chlorophyll itself
Sepal one of the enclosing segments of a flower in bud
Stolon An above ground horizontal stem, which roots at nodes, producing a new plant, hence “stoloniferous”

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Flower colour

Owing to the subjective nature of describing flower colours, gradations of colour, such as reddish-brown, grey/black, etc., are not used. The following flower colour names have been used in the Hornsby Herbarium

  • black
  • blue
  • brown
  • cream
  • green
  • grey
  • mauve
  • orange
  • pink
  • purple
  • red
  • violet
  • white
  • yellow

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Flower season

Plant flower seasons are entered as individual months, with the names of the months in full. Where a plant flowers for more than one month, the names of the months are separated by a semi-colon followed by a space. The flower season for acacia brownii, for example, a plant which flowers from August through to November each year, is entered as 'August; September; October; November'. So, if you enter any or all of these four months as a search term in the 'Flower Season' field, you will retrieve the record for acacia brownii. Note that you cannot carry out a flower season search using a date range: entering 'August-November' as a search term, for example, will not retrieve any records.

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Threatened status

There are three registers of Threatened Status, each with their own set of symbols to denote this status, as shown below (information taken taken from A Guide to the Berowra Valley Regional Park, a book published by friends of Berowra Valley Regional Park, a subcommittee of the Bushland Management Advisory Committee formed under the auspices of Hornsby Shire Council).

  • Rare or Threatened Australian Plants (ROTAP). (Although now outdated is often quoted. As more is learnt about population distributions these stastuses will change.):
1Known by one collection only
2Species with a geographic range of less than 100km
3Species with a geographic range of over 100km
XPresumed extinct
EEndangered species at serious risk of disappearing from the wild within one or two decades if present land use and other threats continue to operate
VVulnerable species not presently endangered but at risk of disappearing from the wild over a longer period (20-50 years) or which occurs on land whose future use is likely to change and threaten its survival
RRare: species that are rare in Australia but which are not currently considered threatened, i.e., endangered or vulnerable
KPoorly known: species suspected, but not definitely known, to be endangered, vulnerable or rare
CSpecies known to be represented (at least one population) within a national park or similar conservation reserve or reserves
a1,000 or more plants known to occur within a conservation reserve or reserves
iFewer than 1,000 plants known to occur within a conservation reserve or reserves
uReserved population size is unknown (the usual symbol here is “-”)

  • Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth legislation):

  • Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW legislation, administered by the NSW Scientific Committee):

The Threatened Status of a particular plant in the Hornsby Herbarium may be described using one or more of these sets of symbols. Where more than one set of symbols is used they are separated by a semi-colon followed by a space. The Threatened Status of Acacia bynoeana, for example, is described as “2VCu; V; e” (all three symbol sets are given), while Boronia fraseri is described as “2RCa” (only the ROTAP set is given).

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