These terms were the most commonly used for my herbology certification, so I wanted to share them with you. If you want more terms that are not listed here, check out the extensive Wikipedia Glossary of Botanical Terms
- Adaptogen – helps the body cope with stress.
- Allopathic – manages or suppresses symptoms
- Alternate leaf arrangement – Leaves are not directly on opposite sides of the stem. They are staggered slightly.
- Analgesic – relieves pain
- Anaphrodisiac – reduces / suppresses libido
- Anesthetic – numbs, creates loss of sensation
- Annual – A plant that completes its life cycle within one calendar year. It goes from seed to seed in one growing season.
- Anthelmintic – kills and expels parasites and worms.
- Anther – The top of the stamen, which produces the pollen.
- Antarthritic – relieves arthritic symptoms
- Antibacterial (antibiotic)- kills bacteria or prevents their growth
- Anticatarrhal – removes mucus from the body, from all body organs
- Anticoagulant – thins the blood, reduces coagulation
- Antidepressant – alleviates low mood and anxiety
- Antidiarrheal – alleviates diarrhoea
- Antiemetic – relieves nausea and vomiting
- Antifungal – prevents and treats fungal infections, halts fungal growth
- Antihistamine – prevents or reduces an allergic (inflammatory) reaction
- Anti-infectious – fights or prevents an infection
- Anti-inflammatory – prevents or alleviates inflammation
- Anti-itch – see antihistamine
- Antimicrobial – kills and prevents the growth of microbes
- Antineuralgic – relieves pain derived from the nerves
- Antioxidant – helps slow / prevent cell damage from oxidation
- Antiparasitic – see anthelmintic
- Antiphlogistic – reduces fever and/or inflammation
- Antipruritic – relieves itching
- Antipyretic – reduces fever
- Antirheumatic – alleviates and prevents symptoms of rheumatism
- Antiseborrhoeic – alleviates or prevents seborrhea (excess sebum)
- Antiseptic – prevents the growth of microbes
- Antispasmodic – relaxes muscle spasms
- Antitussive – prevents or alleviates a cough
- Antiviral – prevents the growth of or alleviates viral infections
- Anxiolytic – reduces feelings and symptoms of anxiety
- Aperitifs – promotes appetite if eaten before food.
- Aphrodisiac – stimulates the libido
- Astringent – contracts and tones mucous membranes and the skin
- Ayurvedic – 5,000 year old Indian teachings
- Bactericidal – kills bacteria
- Biennial – A plant that completes its life cycle over 2 years. The first year is spent growing leaves, stems and roots. The second year is when the plant bolts upwards producing flowers and going to seed, after which the plant dies.
- Botany – understanding plants, plant biology & all aspects of plants (photosynthesizers)
- Bract – A modified leaf attached to the base or stalk of a flower.
- Bud – An undeveloped leaf or flower of a plant.
- Bulb – A specialized underground bud that sends down roots and stores water and nutrients.
- Calmative – Calms
- Carminative – prevents and expels intestinal gas
- Cellulose – The substance in plant cells that makes plants rigid and aids in keeping plants from collapsing.
- Cephalic – promotes blood flow to the head
- Choleretic – stimulates bile production
- Cholagogue – promotes the flow of bile from the gallbladder
- Cicatrisant – promotes healing by stimulating scar tissue formation
- Circulatory (stimulant) – aids the circulatory system (boosts circulation)
- Cooling – its use promotes a cooling sensation on the skin
- Cotyledon – The first leaves of a seed plant. These are also called the “seed leaves.”
- Cytophylactic – promotes the growth of new cells
- Decongestant – alleviates congestion in the nasal passages and airways
- Demulcent – soothing relieves irritation
- Depurative – purifies and detoxifies
- Detoxicant – see depurative
- Diaphoretic – promotes sweating (and therefore can help manage a fever)
- Digestive – aids the digestive system
- Disinfectant – kills bacteria
- Diuretic – increases urine production
- Eclectic herbalists – use the whole plant.
- Emersed Plant – A plant that is rooted in shallow water. Most of the vegetative growth is above water.
- Emmenagogue – promotes circulation to pelvis and uterus and stimulates menstruation
- Emollient – softens and soothes the skin
- Expectorant – helps the lungs bring up mucus, makes a cough productive
- Febrifuge – reduces a fever
- Fungicidal – see antifungal
- Galactagogue – Promotes milk flow
- Haemostatic – stops bleeding
- Hepatic – benefits the liver
- Holistic – a story or chapters of an illness and what contributed. Factors include: lifestyle, diet, exercise, mood, sleep.
- Hypertensive – increases blood pressure
- Hypnotic – calms, soothes
- Hypotensive – decreases blood pressure
- Immunostimulant – stimulates the activity of the immune system
- Insecticide – repels and/or kills insects
- Latin Terminology –
- Arial – herba / Leaves – folia / Flowers – flos / Fruit – fructus / Bark – cortex / Roots – radix / Rhizome – rhizoma / Bulbs – bulbus
- Binomials – Genus then species. Genus is always capital first letter. Species is not. Italics everything.
- Sp, spp = one or multiples of a Genus.
- Var. = variety
- X = hybrid
- Plant classification family name changes have changed over the years:
- Compositae – Asteraceae *
- Cruciferae – Brassicaceae
- Labiatae – Lamiaceae *
- Leguminosae – Fabaceae
- Umbelliferae – Apiaceae *
- Laxative – encourages peristalsis and bowel movements
- Lipolytic – breaks down fats
- Monosaccharides – The smallest possible form of sugar.
- Mucolytic – loosens and clears mucus from the airways
- Muscle relaxant – see antispasmodic
- Native plant – A plant that is historically found in its current area. These plants are generally good for an area, as they give competition to non-native plants.
- Nervine – nourishes the nervous system, calms and balances
- Non-native plant – Any plant that is not historically found in its current area. These plants are usually introduced into new areas by human activity or livestock.
- Noxious Weeds – are invasive, non-native plants that threaten agricultural crops, local ecosystems, or fish and wildlife habitats. The term ‘noxious weeds’ includes non-native, invasive grasses, flowering plants, shrubs, trees and aquatic plants. About half of all invasive, noxious weeds are escapees from gardens; the rest are plants accidentally introduced through human travel and trade.
- Oligosaccharides – < 10 monosaccharides
- Opposite leaf arrangement – Leaves are directly on opposite sides of the stem.
- Parthenocarpy – fruit without seeds (strawberry, banana, pineapple, oranges) aka a “non fertile” seed, aka shooting blanks
- Parasiticide – kills parasites
- Perennial – A plant that grows for 3 or more years, usually flowering each year
- Polysaccharides – > 10 monosaccharides
- Rays – Narrow flowers that appear as a single petal on members of the Asteraceae (Sunflower) family. An example is dandelion.
- Relaxant – Calms and relaxes
- Rhizome – A root-like stem that grows horizontally underground and produces new leaves and shoots.
- Roots – The underground parts of a plant that uptake nutrients and water.
- Rosette – The beginning formation of a plant after the seedling stage. It is a grouping of basal leaves.
- Rubefacient – promotes blood flow to the skin, causing reddening
- Runner – A creeping stem that sends down new roots at spaced intervals called nodes. These nodes can form new plants and detach from the parent plant.
- Sedative – calms and sedates
- Splenic – improves spleen health
- Stem – The main axis of a plant, the central stalk.
- Stimulant – stimulates the mind or body
- Stomachic – tones the stomach, balances activity and improves the appetite
- Stolon – A modified stem growing along the ground that develops new plants. An example is strawberry plants.
- Styptic – stops bleeding
- Submersed plant – Plants that develop completely under the surface of water. Leaves and flowers may eventually grow above the water surface.
- Sudorific – promotes sweating, see diaphoretic
- Terrestrial plants – Plants that grow on land, not in water.
- Therapeutic properties – classify a plant as an herb. Used as the whole plant.
- Tonic – restores health in general or has an affinity for a particular organ
- Uterine – improves the function of the uterus
- Vasoconstrictor – constricts blood vessels
- Vasodilator – dilates blood vessels
- Vermifuge – kills or expels parasites
- Vulnerary – promotes wound healing
- Weed – Any plant that crowds out cultivated or desired plants.
- Woody – Having bark-covered stems that do not die to the ground at the end of the growing season.