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A Grammatical Dictionary of Botanical Latin

Bulb, “a leaf-bud, the scales of which are fleshy, and which propagates an individual” (Lindley); “a modified bud, usually underground” (Jackson); “a subterranean leaf-bud with fleshy scales or coats” (Fernald 1950); (in fungi) “in Hymenomycetes, the swollen base of the stipe” (S&D): bulbus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. bulbo, nom. pl. bulbi, acc. pl. bulbos, dat.& abl. pl. bulbis [> L. bulbus (also bulbos),-i (s.m.II), a bulb, bulbous root (as of tulips, hyacinths, lilies); an onion, “a garden vegetable of several kinds, among which the Megarean was the best known” (Lewis & Short) > Gk. bolbos (s.m.II), a bulb]; see corm;

"The diminutive bulbilus and bulbulus are similarly declined;"

“A scaly body, formed at or beneath the surface of the ground, sending roots downward from its lower part and a stem upwards from its center. It propagates itself by developing new bulbs in the axils of the scales of which it is formed. There are two kinds of bulbs: (1) a ‘tunicated bulb,’ literally a coated bulb, that is, a bulb furnished with a tunic or covering of scales, the outer series of which is thin and membranous, example, the onion; and (2) a ‘naked bulb,’ or one in which the outer scales are not membranous and united, but distinct and fleshy like the inner ones, example, the lilies. The so-called solid bulb of the crocus is, properly speaking, not a bulb at all, but an underground stem with buds upon it, technically called a corm, whereas a proper bulb is analogous not to an underground stem but to a bud only.”

NOTE: gardeners and nurserymen, as a market term, use the word ‘bulb’ loosely to include true bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers.

NOTE: there is often a bulb, or swollen area at the base of a style.

- [Eleutherine] bulbus tunicatus, brunneus (B&H), the bulb tunicate [i.e. covered with a thin, separable covering;, brown.

- [SCILLA RAMBUREI] bulbo plurifolio, foliis lanceolato- linearibus (Boissier), with the bulb many-leaved, with the leaves lanceolate-linear.

- bulbus ovoideus 12-15 lineae crassus prolifer, bulbilis copiosis sub tunicis inclusis et bulbulis foliiferis liberis circumdatus, bulb globose 12-15 lines (3-4 cm.) thick proliferous, with bulbils abounding under the tunics enclosed and by bulblets leaf-bearing free surrounded.

- [GAGEA NEVADENSIS] bulbi duo tunica communi inclusi, florifer minimus vix pisi magnitudine (Boissier), the two bulbs enclosed in a common tunic [i.e. jacket or coat], the floriferous [sc. bulbus] very tiny, with scarcely the size of a pea.

- bulbus globosus 1-3 uncias diametro, tunicis papyraceis vestitus, sapore acerrimo, bulbillis inter tunicas exteriores plurimis parvis brunneis ovoideis sessilibus bel filo brevi fragili stipitatis, bulb globose 1-3 inches (2.7-8 cm.) in diameter, with tunics papery clothed, with flavor most pungent, with bulbils between outer tunics many small bown ovoid sessile or by a short fragile thread stalked.

- [ORNITHOGALUM BAETICUM — bulbo ovato tunicato non sobolifero (Boissier), with the bulb ovate, tunicate, not bearing a sobol [i.e. a creeping, rooting stem].

- [Echinolytrum] ab auctoribus Isolepidi relatus, sed stylus certe basi bulbiformis, bulbo nunc cum stylo deciduo nunc persistente (B&H), by authors ascribedlated to Isolepis, but the style is certainly at the base bulbiform, with the bulb with a style sometimes deciduous, sometimes persisting.

- bulbus parvus simplex conicus, tunicis interioribus reticulatim nervatis, exterioribus castaneis reticulato-fibrosis superne in colum longum productis, bulbillo extra tunicas hornas solitario anguste conico sessili vel longe stipitato stipite usque ad unciam unam longo, bulb small simple conical with inner tunics reticulately nerved, outer chestnut-colored reticulate-fibrous, above into a long neck lengthened out, with bulbil outside this year's tunics solitary narrowly conical sessile or long stalked with the stalk up to one inch (2.7 cm.) long (Stearn).

- herba bulbis magnis venenatis tunicis membranaceis, herb with bulbs large poisonous with tunics membranous.

- POGONOSTYLIS, species humilis, styli bulbo basi pilis longis supra ovarium reflexis fimbriato (B&H), a low-growing species with the bulb of the style fimbriate at the base with long hairs reflexed above the ovary.

- bulbus squamosus (tunicis nullis) juvenile albus deinde roseus vel luci expositus purpureus, primo globosus deinde oblatus, usque ad 6 cm. altus 9 cm. latus, squamis paucis vel multis acutis in bulbo juvenili fere orbicularibus in maturo late ovatis, bulb scaly (with no tunics) youthfully white afterwards rose or when to light exposed becoming purple, at first globose later oblate, up to 6 cm. high 9 cm. broad, with scales few or many acute in the young bulb almost orbicular in the mature one broadly ovate.

- [alga] GRIFFITHSIA irreglaris. Hab. ad caules et inter bulbos rejectos Posidoniae intricata; ad Massiliam mense majo fructiferam legi; ceterum in Adriatico lecta (Agardh), it dwells entangled on stems and amid cast off bulbs of Posidonia; I collected it bearing fruit at Massilia in the month of May; otherwise collected in the Adriatic.

- [moss] ex obs. Cl. Bridel et Schwagrichen in axillis foliorum occurrunt frequenter bulbi rufescentes decidui (C. Mueller), reddish, deciduous bulbs occur frequently in the axils of the leaves according to the observations of the eminent Bridel and Schwagrichen.

- [fungus] primo obtutu Agaricum argillaceum in memoriam revocat species pulchella; a quo tamen praeter situm bulbumque lamellis etiam discrepat vix adnexis valde pulverulentis vivide ochraceo - ferrugineis (S&A), at first sight this beautiful species recalls to the mind Agaricus argillaceus; from which it is to be distinguished nevertheless in addition to the position and bulb, by the adnexed [i.e. reaching the gills but not attached to it] lamellae strongly powdery, brightly ochraceous-ferrugineous.

Bacillus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. bacillo: “(obsol.) the little bulbs found on the inflorescence of some plants” (Lindley).

Bulbipellis,-is (s.f.III), acc. sg. bulbipellem, abl. sg. bulbipelle, nom. & acc.pl. bulbipelles, gen. pl. bulbipellium, dat. & acc. pl. bulbipellibus: (in fulgi) “the ‘cortical’ layers of the bulb of basidiomycetous fruit-bodies (see Bas, 1969)” (S&D).

Bulb-plate: lectus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. lecto (Stearn); the bottom of the bulb is made up of a short section of stem forming the basal plate just above the roots and just below the interior ‘bud’ organ.

Bulbus laminatus (adj.A), “a tunicated bulb, as a hyacinth” (Jackson); see bulbus tunicatus below.

Bulbus solidus (adj.A): “a corm, q.v.” (Lindley) = bulbodium,-ii (s.n.II), abl. sg. bulbodio: “(obsol.) the solid bulb of old botanists” (Lindley); cf. Solid [bulb],(radix bulbosa solida ), when the bulb consists of a firm substance throughout; as Colchicum autumnale.

Bulbus squamosus (adj.A): a naked bulb (Lindley); “naked bulb, “a bulb whose scales are loose and almost separate, as in the Crown Imperial” [Fritillaria imperialis L.] (Lindley); “naked bulb, bulbus squamosus, having scaly modifications of the leaves, as in the lily” (Jackson).

Bulbus tunicatus “tunicated bulb, “a bulb whose outer scales are thin and membranous” (Lindley); Coated [bulb], (radix tunicata), when the bulb is composed of concentric layers; as in Allium Cepa; “tunicated bulb, whose outer scales are thin and membranous, as the onion or hyacinth” (Jackson); see bulbus laminatus above.

Corm: cormus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. cormo, nom. pl. cormi, acc.pl. cormos, dat. & abl. pl. cormis, lit. 'a trunk;' “a fleshy underground stem, having the appearance of a bulb, from which it is distinguished by not being scaly” (Lindley); "for the solid bulb-like stembase of monocotyledons, the older authors, e.g. Ker-Gawler, used bulbo-tuber" (Stearn).

marginato-depressus,-a,-um (part.A): (in fungi) “(of the bulb) provided with a narrow, circular, horizontal platform on the upper side” (S&D).

marginatus,-a,-um (part.A):(in fungi) “(of the pileus) having a distinctly marked border; (of the bulb of the stipe) having a circular ridge on the exterior, upper angle where the universal veil was attached” (S&D);

Naked bulb: see bulbus squamosus above; see imbricated bulb below.

Propago,-inis (s.f.III), q.v., abl. sg. propage, nom. & acc. pl. propagines (nom. & acc. pl.) : “deciduous axillary bulbs formed on the stem of some plants” (Lindley).

Tunica,-ae (s.f.I): the tunic, the membranous coat of a bulb or corm.

Bolbitis,-itidis (s.f.III), abl. sg. Bolbitide, a genus of ferns > Gk. bolbition, diminutive of bolbos, bulb, alluding to the foliar buds; (algae) Bulbochaete; Laminaria bulbosa.

Bulbipellis,-is (s.f.III), acc. sg. bulbipellem, abl. sg. bulbipelle, nom. & acc.pl. bulbipelles, gen. pl. bulbipellium, dat. & acc. pl. bulbipellibus: (in fulgi) “the ‘cortical’ layers of the bulb of basidiomycetous fruit-bodies (see Bas, 1969)” (S&D).

Bulbocodium,-ii (s.n.I) > Gk. bolbos, a bulb + kodion, wool (Stearn 1996) TTO DO; Bulbophyllum,-i (s.n.II), > Gk. bolbos, bulg + phyllon, a leaf. “The leaves of these epiphytic orchids grow from a pseudobulb. Orchidaceae” (Stearn 1996).


(of roots); The descending caudex takes the name of Root (radix,-icis (s.f.III))

The bulb-root or bulbous root (Bulbus) is a fleshy, coated body, more or less solid, round and gross, that is firmly united with a root [which is] small in respect of the bulb, which is placed sometimes at the base and sometimes in the middle.

It pushes its shoot either from the middle or the base, which depends on the situation of the root, (Rhizoma) (Willdenow).

Species of bulbous roots: (Radices bulbosae)

1. Imbricated, (radix bulbosa imbricata s. [=seu (‘or’)] squamosa), when the bulb consists of leaves lying over one another like the tiles- of a house; as Lilium bulbiferum.

NOTE: this is referred to also as a ‘naked’ bulb or bulbus squamosus above.

2. Coated, (radix bulbosa tunicata), when the bulb is composed of concentric layers; as in Allium Cepa.

3. Net-like, (radix bulbosa reticulata), when the bulb is entirely composed of reticulated membranes; as Allium Victorialis.

4. Half-net-like, (radix bulbosa semireticulata), when the bulb consists of a firm mass, but the outer membrane is net-like; as Gladiolus communis.

5. Solid, (radix bulbosa solida), when the bulb consists of a firm substance throughout; as Colchicum autumnale.

6. Nestling, (radix bulbosa nidulans), when small bulbs appear under the external membrane, and the bulb seems to be entirely composed of them; as in Ornithogalum spathaceum.

7. Aggregated, (radix bulbosa composite s. aggregata), when several bulbs stand close together, having a connection at the base.

8. Twofold, (radix bulbosa geminata), when two bulbs are connected by their base; as Fritillaria pyrenaica, Erythronium Dens-canis.

9. Doubled, (radix bulbosa duplicata), when one bulb stands above another, and grows out of it; as Allium sphaerocephalon.

10. Supported, (radix bulbosa suffulta), when the body of the root stands at a distance from the bulb, equalling it in size and distinctly separated from it; as lxia punicea, erecta.

11. Single, (radix bulbosa solitaria), when neither from the side nor from the base proceeds another bulb.

12. Central, (radix bulbosa centralis), when the shoot proceeds from the middle; as Galanthus nivalis.

13. Lateral, (radix bulbosa lateralis), when the shoot issues from the side; as in lxia virgata.
Bulb-plate: lectus,-i (s.m.II), abl. sg. lecto (Stearn; ‘bed, couch;’ bulb-plate [> L. lectus,-I (s.m.II) > Gk. lekton, lechos; a bed, couch for reclining at meals or for study or writing (Glare)].

NOTE: the bottom of the bulb is made up of a short section of stem forming the basal plate just above the roots and just below the interior ‘bud’ or nascent stem organ.
bulb-shaped: bulbiformis,-e (adj.B), q.v.


A work in progress, presently with preliminary A through R, and S, and with S (in part) through Z essentially completed.
Copyright © P. M. Eckel 2010-2018

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