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Re: What's a Cataphyll?

Title: Re: [Aroid-l] What's a Cataphyll?
D. Swartz. Collegiate Dictionary of Botany. 1971. cataphyll - a scale-like leaf as found in buds, cotyledons, rhyzomes, etc.; any rudimentary scale-like leaf which precedes the foliage leaf; the German Niederblatter, an underleaf; a leaf present at the beginning of growth.

Hope this helps.


Readers may remember a note from Bernhard in a recent posting as follows:

@ English native speakers/botanists: Is cataphyll the right term in English for "Huellblatt"? Or does the term only describe covering leafs over an "underground" bud?

I have had a couple of exchanges with him and have noticed that no one on the list has bellyed-up ("belly-up" is an Americanism that means to step up and take responsibility for a thing) to answer his inquiry. Perhaps it's because finding out what the heck a cataphyll is in English is not exactly trivial.

The only firm reference I found was from our own Deni Bown's famous book (page 41 in my edition), where she is at pains to differentiate between extensions of the basic leaf ("sheaths" in her example) and complete modified leaves (cataphylls) that shield or protect internodes. Or some such.

I have reviewed a number of botany books in my possession and none of them have "cataphyll" 'in the index, even those that helpfully provide glossaries of technical botanical terms.
I even checked the definitive dictionary of the English language, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). "Cataphyll" is not an entry in the Second Edition (copyright 2000). But it has an entry for "Cataphyllary", being an adjective for a noun not listed. The definition is: "the colorless or brownish scales found on various parts of plants, esp. underground, regarded as modifications of foliage leaves". The first reference listed is from 1875. The definition there is "Scale or 'Cataphyllary -Leaves' are usually produced on underground shoots . . although they also frequently occur above ground, especially as an envelope to the winter-buds of woody plants (as in the horse-chestnut, oak, etc.)".
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