IUBio Biosequences .. Software .. Molbio soft .. Network News .. FTP

Phyte words

David R. Hershey dh321 at PGSTUMAIL.PG.CC.MD.US
Sun Feb 25 00:03:59 EST 1996

Here are the results of my search for phyte words. Webster's New
International Dictionary (1957) listed 42 prefixes for phyte but
then did not define many of them. Benjamin D. Jackson. (1950. A
Glossary of Botanic Terms. New York: Hafner) defined most of
those phyte words plus well over 100 more. A few others were
located in a variety of unabridged dictionaries and botanical
dictionaries and texts. The phyte terms are grouped below in
categories although some terms fit in more than one category.
Phyte terms referring mainly to bacteria, fungi, and algae are
technically obsolete in the current 5-kingdom classification so
these have not been included. Taxonomic terms were also not

Like many botanical terms, phyte words often have more than one
definition, e.g. Crytophyte, Geophyte, Hydrophyte, and
Ombrophyte. Heterophyte has at least six different definitions.
The same definition is also often shared by more than one term,
e.g. Aerophyte and Epiphyte, Cryptophyte and Geophyte. Meanings
have often changed over time. Hydrophyte was originally defined
as an aquatic plant and still is in the Oxford unabridged
dictionary. However, many current texts define it more broadly as
any plant that requires a lot of water. Technically, it might be
more accurate to use hygrophyte with mesophyte and xerophyte and
keep hydrophyte defined as an aquatic plant.

Most of these words are not used much anymore but many are rather
interesting. Naming a species as an example for each term would
be a challenge. 


Xerophyte - adapted to dry conditions
Mesophyte - adapted to medium moisture conditions
Hydrophyte - adapted to high moisture conditions or an aquatic

Mesohydrophyte - intermediate between mesophyte and hydrophyte
Mesoxerophyte - intermediate between mesophyte and xerophyte
Dissophyte - shoots xerophytic and roots mesophytic
Dyssophyte - sometimes a hydrophyte, sometimes an epiphyte

Hygrophyte - thriving in very wet soil, roughly a hydrophyte
Ombrophyte - capable of withstanding a lot of rain
Phreatophyte - obtaining water directly from a water table or the
soil just above it
Helophyte or Limnodophyte - marsh plant
Amphiphyte - amphibious plant
Plotophyte - floating, with stomata on upper leaf surface only
Emophyte - completely submerged, no functional stomata
Benthophyte - plant living at the bottom of a body of water
Oceanophyte - growing in the ocean


Heliophyte -thriving in or tolerating full sunlight
Sciophyte, Skiophyte, or Ombrophyte - thriving in or tolerating


Oxyphyte - growing in soil that lacks oxygen

Halophyte - adapted to a saline soil or influenced by salt water
Glycophyte - adapted to nonsaline soil
Drimyphytes - salt-plants

Oxylophyte - adapted to acid soils
Gypsophyte - adapted to chalk or limestone plants
Nitrophytes - potash-loving plants?

Lithophyte - growing on rock or on rocky soil
Edaphophyte - with roots in soil and shoots in air

Melangeophyte - loam or alluvium plant
Spiladophyte - clay plant
Europhyte - leaf mold plant

BUD LOCATION (Raunkaier's Life Forms)

Epiphyte - air plant, no roots in soil
Phanerophyte - overwintering buds well above soil surface
Chamaeophyte - overwintering buds at soil surface
Hemicryptophyte - overwintering buds just beneath soil surface
Cryptophyte or Geophyte - deeply buried buds, often in tubers or
Hydrophyte - overwintering buds under water
Therophyte - overwinter strictly as seeds, annuals

Megaphanerophyte - phanerophyte > 30 m tall
Mesophanerophyte - phanerophyte  8 to 30 m tall
Microphanerophyte - phanerophyte  2 to 8 m tall
Nanophanerophyte - phanerophyte  < 2 m tall

Protohemicrytophyte - leaves fully developed in middle but 
undeveloped at base of stem
Xerogeophyte - geophyte with resting period in the dry season


Holophyte, Autophyte, or Rhizophyte - autotrophic plant
Heterophyte - saprophyte or biophyte, also defined as obligate
heterotroph, parasite lacking chlorophyll, a species with a wide
variety of habitats, a dioecious sporophyte, or with leaves and
flowers on different stems 
Biophyte, Histophyte, or Oophyte - parasitic plant
Hemiautophyte - biophyte with chlorophyll
Saprophyte, Coprophyte, or Hysterophyte - obtaining energy from
dead organic matter
Hemisaprophyte - functioning as a saprophyte but can be an
Holosaprophyte - an obligate saprophyte
Autophyte - not a saprophyte
Carnivorophyte - carnivorous plant


Epiphyte or Aerophyte - growing on another plant, instead of in
soil, but not parasitic on it
Hemiepiphyte - rooting first in soil before forming aerial roots
Protoepiphyte - pure epiphyte, not a hemiepiphyte
Ant-epiphyte - cultivated by ants
Nest-epiphyte - accumulating humus around itself
Pseudoepiphyte - stems die at base and upper plant parts survive
with aerial roots
Tank-epiphyte - roots only function in anchorage


Gametophyte - usually haploid part of a plant's life cycle which
produces gametes
Sporophyte - usually diploid part of a plant's life cycle which
produces asexual spores
Xeniophyte or Xenophyte - usually triploid endosperm of
angiosperms, may be considered a third generation of life cycle
Orthophyte - both gametophyte and sporophyte

Megagametophyte - arising from a megaspore, female gametophyte
Microgametophyte - producing microgametes, male gametophyte

Androphyte - male plant
Gynophyte - female plant

Amorphophyte - with anamolous flowers


Agrophyte - agricultural plant
Anthropophyte - plant introduced via cultivation
Hemerophyte - introduced by humans
Dendrophyte - orchard plants

Ergasiapophyte - plant colonizing cultivated fields
Ergasialipophyte - relic cultivated plants
Ergasiophygophte - fugitive plant from cultivation
Ergasiophyte - foreign cultivated plants introduced on purpose
Ergasiphyte - foreign cultivated plant

Apophyte - native plants that invade abandoned fields
Archaeophyte - weed introduced in prehistoric times
Kenapophytes - colonizing cleared land
Leimonapophyte - introduced into grassland

OTHER PHYTOGEOGRAPHIC TERMS (mostly by Frederic Clements)

Acrophyte or Coryphophyte - alpine plant
Actophyte - rocky shore plant
Aigiaphyte - beach or strand plant
Aiphyllophyte - evergreen forest plant
Aithalophyte - evergreen thicket plant
Aletophyte or Chomaphyte - ruderal or wayside plant
Alsophyte - grove plants
Amathophyte - sand-plain plants
Ammochthophyte - sand-bank plant
Ancophyte - canyon plant
Anemophyte - blow-out plants, a hollow in a dune created by wind 
Bathyphyte- lowland plant
Chasmophyte or Chasmochomophyte - rock crevice plant
Cheradophyte - sandbar plant
Chersophyte - dry waste plants
Chionophyte - snow plants
Chledophyte - plants growing in waste places
Chomophyte - fissure or ledge plant
Conophoraphyte - coniferous forest plant
Cremnophyte - cliff plant
Crenophytes - plants of springs
Crymophyte- polar plant
Enaulophytes - plants of sand draws
Eremophyte - desert plant or growing under similar conditions
Helohylophyte - wet forest plant
Helorgadophyte - swampy woodland plant
Hydrotribophyte - bad land plant
Hylodophyte - dry woodland plant
Hylophyte - woodland plant
Lochmophyte - thicket plant
Lophophyte - hill plant
Mesothermophyte - temperate plant
Microthermophyte - boreal plant
Namatophyte - brook plant
Nomophyte - pasture plant
Ochthophyte - bank or dike plant
Orgadophyte - open woodland plant
Orophyte - sub-alpine plant
Pagophyte - foothill plant
Pediophyte - upland plant
Pelochthophyte - mud bank plant
Petrodophyte - boulder field plant
Petrophyte - rock plants includes Lithophyte and Chomophyte
Phellophyte - growing among loose stones
Phretophyte - tank plant
Poophyte - meadow plant
Potamophyte - river plant
Psamathophyte - strand plant
Psammophyte - sand plant
Psilophyte - prairie plant
Ptenophylophyte - deciduous forest plant
Ptenothalophyte - deciduous thicket plant
Rhoophyte - creek plant
Rhyacophyte - torrent plant
Scotophyte - darkness plant
Stasophyte - stagnant water plant
Syrtidophyte - dry sandbar plant
Taphrophyte - ditch plant
Telmatophyte - wet meadow plant
Thinophyte - dune plant
Tiphophyte - pond plant
Xeroxylophyte - dry forest plant
Xeropoophyte - heath plant


Anemophyte - wind-pollinated plant
Anaphyte- plant in which every branch could drop off and form a
separate plant
Myrmecophyte - ant colony plant
Meriphyte - leaf vascular tissue
Neophyte - newly introduced plant
Pyrophyte - tree with fire-resistant bark
Sclerophyte - shrubs with evergreen, drought-resistant leaves
Tropophyte or Trophophyte - deciduous plant or broadleaf tree or
plant that is adapted to an environment that fluctuates widely
during the year.  
Zoophyte - plant with animal qualities, such as vegetable lamb
(Cibotium barometz) or sensitive plant. Now usually defined as an
animal with plantlike qualities.

David R. Hershey
Snail mail: 6700 Belcrest Road #112, Hyattsville, MD 20782-1398

Adjunct Professor, Biology/Horticulture Department
Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD 20772-2199

Email: dh321 at pgstumail.pg.cc.md.us

More information about the Plant-ed mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net