Pistil versus carpel

Ross Koning Koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Sun Aug 25 12:58:35 EST 1996

At  2:02 PM 8/24/96 -0700, Subbaiah C. Chalivendra wrote:
>Janice M. Glime wrote:
>>If the pistil and carpel are synonymous, then we are left without a term
>>to describe the whole structure when there is more than one carpel.
>may not be, the term "gynoecium" can describe the whole structure with one
>or more carpels.

My 2-cents is that one of the turn-offs to botany
is too-much vocabulary.  We want to be precise and
clear and sometimes selecting the correct word for
a phrase in a book requires additional terms.  Yet
too many words with very slight differences frustrates
young students.  So text authors need to balance their
use of terms between precision and quantity.  Some
will set the balance more toward reasonable quantity
(compromising precision), other authors will go for
precision (and compromise frustration and readability
levels).  I don't think it is easy to be a text author...
I'm not one and by choice.  This is one of many very
difficult choices that has to be made with the help
of the editor and the target readership.  Not every
reader will be happy with the outcome.

I run into books that only use pistil and have no
mention of carpel (non-majors books)...I unfortunately
prefer to think about carpels and fused carpels rather
than pistils, so I end up having to explain the
situation to the students.  This is probably the sorest
point in my course and leads to student frustration.
I prefer to use carpel and gynoecium but end up
explaining pistil (simple and compound) anyway...argh!

But science is filled with such problems.  Here are a
few of my favorites from Plant Physiology:

Photoperiodism - SDplants measure night length not light interval
Abscisic acid - more important in dormancy than abscission
Macro and micro nutrients - nutrient has another definition here!

     there are many more...

As usual, my 2-cents got stretched....sorry!


Ross Koning                 | Koning at ecsu.ctstateu.edu
Biology Department          | http://koning.ecsu.ctstateu.edu/
Eastern CT State University | Phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT  06226  USA | Fax: 860-465-5213

                Plant Physiology is Phun!

 /\|___/\     //\______COOH   NH-CH2-CH=C-CH2OH  \/OH
|  |  |  |    |  |  ||       //\___     \CH3     /\|/\\/\\COOH
 \/ \/|\/|    \\/ \ /       N  ||  N            |  |
 /\ | |__|=        NH       |  || ||           //\//\
  | COOH                    \\ /\ /            O
  COOH        H2C=CH2         N  NH

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