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A Grammatical Dictionary of Botanical Latin

repens,-entis (part.B): repent, creeping, prostrate and rooting; “creeping; lying flat upon the ground and emitting roots at the same time” (Lindley); “creeping; prostrate and rooting at the nodes” (Fernald 1950) [> L. repo,-psi,-reptum, 3. to creep, crawl]; cf. diffusus,-a,-um (part.A), wide-spreading, straggling; cf. procumbens,-entis (part.B) and prostratus,-a,-um (part.A): “lying [flat] on the ground or trailing but without rooting at the nodes” (Fernald 1950); creeping, (repens), lying horizontally under the earth, and extending itself in that direction by means of side- branches; as Rumex Acetostlla” (Willdenow); “creeping, (repens), when the stem lies along [the ground], and sends out roots from below; cf. sarmentum,-i (s.n.II); see creeping, trailing;

repit: third-person singular present active indicative: [he/she] it creeps, crawls.

The Creeping Stem: This kind of stem is called in common language a creeping root. It is a slender branch which runs along beneath the surface of the earth, emitting small roots from its lower side, and buds from its upper, in the same manner as the rhizome, and it is considered by many botanists as a variety of that stem. The only differences existing between the creeping stem as defined above and the rhizome, are its more slender form, its commonly greater length, and its entirely subterranean course. The Sand Sedge (Carex arenaria), and the Couch Grass (Triticum repens), afford good examples of this stem (Bentley).

- herbae frutices v. arbores erectae, paucae scandentes, paucissimae prostratae v. repentes, succo aqueo(B&H), erect herbs, shrubs or trees, a few climbing, avery few prostrate [i.e. sprawling without rooting] or repent [i.e. creeping and rooting at the nodes]; opp. assurgens,-entis (part.B), rising upwards, ascending, standing up.

NOTE: repent seems to be used in the sense of (somewhat) flexuose or sinuate, as though ‘crawling,’ a synonym of ‘creeping’ indicated ‘wriggling, squiggling, squirming, writhing, worming, slithering, snaking, winding, undulating (like a worm or snake) flat along the ground. Necker uses repent to describe the anthers;

- stamina, 3, approximata: antheris repentibus (Necker), stamens 3, close together, with the anthers repent [i.e. creeping] TO DO

- Antherae lineares, sursum deorsumque repentes (Necker), anthers linear, creeping upwardly and downwardly.


- [fungi] est huic forsan G. repens Bulliardi: stipites saltem laxos decumbentes varie nonnumquam flexos haud adeo inepte repentes dixeris (S&A), to this is, perhaps, G. repens of Bulliard: the stipes, at least, lax, decumbent sometimes variously flexed, you might have said, not even ineptly repent.

- [fungi] effusa, margine subreflexo, subcoriacea, carnea, demum sordide rubella: tubi depressi, veluti repentes (S&A), outspread, with the margin somewhat reflexed, slightly leathery, fleshy, finally a dirty reddish: the tubes depressed [i.e. sinuate], as if creeping.

Also: used in describing species in the genus Oscillatoria (algae), oscillans,-antis (part.B), ‘with a swinging movement;’

- [OSCILLATORIA AUTUMNALIS;; algae] stratum, expansum, variae latitudinis, tenuissimum, vix semi-lineam altum, gelatinosum, nitens, per limum repens, (Agardh), the expanded layer of differing width, very thin, scarcely a half-line tall, gelatinous, shining, creeping through the mud [or silt].


- [fungi] arbusculam perfectissime effiguratam offerunt venae gelatinosae repentes (S&A), the repent, gelatinous veins present most perfectly defined little tree.

- [fungi] sicca ceterum species, filamentosa, ramosa vel simpliciuscula: primo repens, dein assurgens, an otherwise dry species, filamentous, branched or rather unbranched, at first creeping, then ascending.

- herba repens ad nodos radicans, herb creeping, rooting at the nodes.

- [Stellaria bulbosa] radice filiformi repente bulbifera (DeCandolle), with the root thread-like, creeping, bearing bulbs.

- herba repens ad nodos radicans, herb creeping, rooting at the nodes.

- plantae thallosae, parvae, terrestres, raro natantes, carnosae, repentes (Steph.), plants thallose, small, terrestrial, rarely floating, fleshy, creeping.

- herbae suffruticesve, aquaticae repentes v. diffusae (B&H), herbs or subshrubs, aquatic, creeping or diffuse [branching].

- herbae basi saepe suffrutescentes, decumbentes v. subrepentes (B&H), herbs often a subshrub at the base, decumbent or somewhat creeping.

- caulibus basi lignosis repentibus (Boissier), stems at the base woody, prostrate.

- radix geniculate, repens, fibrilosa (Swartz), the root geniculate [i.e. bent like a knee], creeping, fibrillose.

- caules filiformes, laxi, longissimi, repentes, l. penduli (Swartz), stems thread-like, lax, very long, prostrate or [l. = vel) pendulous.

- herbae paludosae v. lacustres, gregariae, graciles v. robustae, interdum elatae, glaberrimae, rhizomate valido repente (B&H), plants of wet places [e.g. swamps, fens] or lacustral, gregarious, slender or robust, sometimes tall, completely hairless, with the rhizome strongly creeping.

- rhizomate tuberoso v. elongato rarissime repente, nunc fruticosa caulibus sympodialibus ope radicum scandentibus (B&H), with the rhizome tuberous or elongate, very rarely creeping, sometimes shrubby with the stem sympodial, climbing with the help of the roots.

- herbae aquaticae v. paludosae, rhizomate repente stolonifero, caudice epigaeo (B&H), herbs aquatic or of wet soil [i.e. swampy, marshy], with the rhizome creeping, stoloniferous, with the caudex on [i.e. above] the ground.

- herbae elatae, vasis laticiferis instructae, caudice prorepente v. rhizomate crasso (B&H), tall herbs, provided with lactiferous ducts, with the caudex creeping forward or with a thick rhizome.

- fruticuli repentes v. scandentes (B&H), a small shrub that is creeping or climbing.

NOTE: the English word 'serpent' is formed from the participle 'serpens,-entis' used as a noun with the word 'bestia,-ae' understood (bestia serpens, gen.sg. bestiae serpentis). The verb relates to the movement of animals whereas repens and reptans classically referred to that of people (Lewis & Short); see bestia,-ae (s.f.I).

NOTE: “The Soboles is a prolongation of the root, proceeding horizontally under the earth, for the most part filiform, and producing new plants of its kind, e. g. Triticum repens, and many others” (Willdenow).

Caudex repens, abl.sg. caudice repente: “(obsol.) a creeping stem; what is now called a rhizome” (Lindley) = rhizome (Jackson).

interrepens,-entis (part.B): to creep between or in the midst of, to creep between through or among [> L. inter, between or among + repens,-entis (part.B) to creep].

irrepens,-entis (part.B): creeping in or inside of, to creep upon, or to a place; to be gradually introduced; “to come or get into in an imperceptible manner, to steal in, insinuate one’s self” (Lewis & Short) [in + repens].

obrepens,-entis (part.B): creeping up on, creeping up to [> L. obrepo,-psi,-reptum 3, to creep up to anything, approach stealthily; to steal upon, to take by surprise, to surprise, to creep up on];

perrepens,-entis (part.B): creeping or crawling through or over [> L. perrepo,-psi,-ptum, 3, to creep or crawl through to a place; to crawl through or over];

prorepens,-entis (part.B), q.v.: creeping along, coming out; putting forth [> L. prorepo,-psi,-reptum, 3, to creep forth, crawl out, come out (in a gradual or unobserved manner); to creep along, crawl forwards].

NOTE: there is an adjective, repens,-entis (adj.B), without known etymology that means 'sudden, hasty, unexpected, unlooked for.'

Ranunculus repens, the Creeping Buttercup, ‘creeping’ (Fernald 1950). a plant “commonly trailing on repent elongate branches;” a species of wet, open ground (Fernald 1950). The epither of Ranunculus reptans is also translated as ‘creeping.’


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 2010-2021

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