Re: What's a Cataphyll?
Title: Re: [Aroid-l] What's a
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
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
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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