Tuesday, August 17, 2010


— bast |bast| noun
Also called bast fiber. Any of several strong, woody fibers, as flax, hemp, ramie, or jute, obtained from phloem tissue and used in the manufacture of woven goods and cordage.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


— form, forma |fôrm| noun
( pl. forms)
a taxonomic category that ranks below variety, which contains organisms differing from the typical kind in some trivial, frequently impermanent, character, e.g., a color variant. Compare with subspecies and variety. Designated in the style Hibiscus moscheutos forma peckii.

ORIGIN from French -forme, from Latin -formis, from forma ‘form.’


— variety |vəˈrīətē| noun
( pl. varieties)
a taxonomic category that ranks below subspecies (where present) or species, its members differing from others of the same subspecies or species in minor but permanent or heritable characteristics. Varieties are more often recognized in botany, in which they are designated in the style Hibiscus furcellatus var. youngianus. Compare with form and subspecies.

ORIGIN late 15th cent.: from French variété or Latin varietas, from varius (see various).


— subspecies |ˈsəbˌspē sh ēz; -sēz| noun
(abbr.: subsp. or ssp.)(pl. same)
a taxonomic category that ranks below species, usually a fairly permanent geographically isolated race. Subspecies are designated by a Latin trinomial, e.g., (in botany) Hibiscus arnottianus ssp. immaculatus.

DERIVATIVES: subspecific |ˈˌsəbspəˈsifik| |ˈˈsəbspəˈsɪfɪk| |-spəˈsɪfɪk| adjective.


— spe·cies | ˈspēsēz; - sh ēz| noun
(abbr.: sp.)( pl. same) a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding. The species is the principal natural taxonomic unit, ranking below a genus and denoted by a Latin binomial, e.g., Hibiscus fragilisfragilis being the species name.

ORIGIN ate Middle English : from Latin, literally ‘appearance, form, beauty,’ from specere ‘to look'.


— ge·nus |ˈjēnəs| noun
( pl. genera |ˈjenərə| or ge·nus·es)
a grouping of organisms having common characteristics distinct from those of other such groupings. The genus is a principal taxonomic category that ranks above species and below family, and is denoted by a capitalized Latin name, e.g., Hibiscus.

ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from Latin, ‘birth, race, stock.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


— biodiversity |ˌbīōdiˈvərsitē| noun.
The variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem. In other words, biodiversity is simply the web of life on earth, comprising its hugely diverse range of species, genes and ecosystems. The balance of ecosystems is vital to a healthy, functioning environment. Biodiversity also plays a critical role in supporting the basic services upon which human life depends. For example, biodiversity provides food, timber, fuel and fibre for clothing. 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mascarene Islands

Mascarene Islands, French: Îles Mascareignes, collectively, the islands of Réunion, Mauritius, and Rodrigues, which are situated in a line along a submarine ridge ―the Seychelles-Mauritius Plateau, 640 to 800 km northeast of southern Madagascar in the western Indian Ocean. 

All of the Macscarene Islands are of volcanic in origin. The name Mascarene is taken from the 16th-century Portuguese explorer Pedro de Mascarenhas. The islands now form two separate Indian Ocean states: Réunion and Mauritius (Rodrigues Island is a dependency of Mauritius).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


— ec·o·tone |ˈekəˌtōn; ˈēkəˌtōn| noun
a region of transition between two biological communities.

DERIVATIVES ec·o·ton·al |-ˈtəʊn(ə)l| adjective.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


— cul·ti·var |ˈkəltəˌvär| noun
a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding. Cultivars are denoted in the following style: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “White Wings”.
Also see variety.
ORIGIN 1920s: blend of cultivate and variety.