Life Form Definitions
- Life Form
- cactus - Normally totally leafless, succulent, usually spiny plants most commonly found under arid conditions.
- Cactus, barrel-shaped - Large barrel-like cacti. Mature specimens are about 1 foot in diameter and up to 4 to 6 feet tall. Central spines are large and hooked or sharply curved.
- cactus, low arborescent - A cactus in the shape of a single trunked tree with jointed branches. Roughly the height of a person or shorter (chollas).
- cactus, low columnar - A cactus in the shape of a branched (at the base) or unbranched ribbed or bumpy stem a foot or two tall (hedgehogs, etc.).
- cactus, medium arborescent - A cactus in the shape of a single trunked tree with jointed branches. Slightly greater than the height of a person (chollas).
- cactus, pad - A cactus with pad or pancake shaped joints (prickly pears, beavertail).
- cactus, pincushion - Very short cacti with tuberculate (nipple-like) protrusions on the stems.
- cactus, spherical - Cacti shaped like a pile of cannonballs.
- cactus, sprawling - Very narrow stemmed chollas forming low, spreading bushes.
- Cactus, stick like - Inconspicuos plants that resemble gray, weathered sticks that are often concealed in shrubs. The stems range from 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter. Plants flower only at night during midsummer (Cereus).
- cactus, tall arborescent - A cactus in the shape of a single trunked tree with jointed branches. Much taller than a person (chollas).
- cactus, tall columnar - Very tall, ribbed stems ranging from 15 to 50 feet tall. Branched at the base (Organ pipes and senita) or higher on the column (saguaros).
- clubmoss - Spore producing plants resembling true mosses but much coarser and covering large areas in thick blankets in favored areas.
- fern - Non-flowering spore-producing plants with finely divided dissected leaves. Leaves typically emerge from rhizomes (underground stems) rather than aerial stems.
- forb - (Herb) A non-woody, non-grassy plant.
- forb, annual - (ephemeral herb) A non-woody, non-grassy plant that typically completes a full life cycle from seed germination to production of viable seed in one growing season.
- forb, biennial - A non-woody, non-grassy plant that completes part of a life cycle during one growing season. The first season typically sees the plant starting from a seed that germinates.This seedling then grows to a large plant that accumulates a supply of food (sugars, starches, or fats) stored in roots or other underground or above ground storage structures. This stored food gives the plant a head start the next growing season in producing flowers, fruits and seeds to finish the life cycle.
- forb, perennial - (herbaceous perennial) Long-lived non-woody plants. In cold climates, these die back to the ground each winter and come back up in the spring. In warm climates they may not die all the way back for several years. Perennials store food reserves in the roots or other food storage organs during off seasons.
- grass - Non-woody (except bamboos) plants entirely in the grass family. These have long, narrow leaves and produce green or greenish inconspicuous flowers resulting in fruits ("seeds") called caryopses.
- grass, annual - A grassy plant that typically completes a full life cycle from seed germination to production of viable seed in one growing season.
- grass, perennial - Long-lived grassy plants. In cold climates, these die back to the ground each winter and come back up in the spring. In warm climates they may not die all the way back for several years. Perennials store food reserves in the roots or other food storage organs during off seasons.
- parasite - A non-chlorophyllous (chlorophyll-containing) plant incapable of photosynthesis. Such plants are some other color than green. They derive sustenance by attaching to nearby photosynthesizing plants and withdrawing food reserves from them.
- sedge - Plants resembling grasses, but with 3-ranked leaves resulting in a stem with a triangular cross section.
- shrub - Woody, many stemmed (trunkless) plants with hightly variable shapes and sizes.
- shrub, low - Small (1 to 2 feet) many stemmed (trunkless) plants.
- shrub, medium - Woody, many stemmed (trunkless) plants slightly shorter to slightly taller than an average person.
- shrub, tall - Woody, many stemmed (trunkless) plants much taller than an average person.
- subshrub - Small semi-woody plants that often die back to the ground in the off season.
- succulent - Plants (excluding cacti) with thick, fleshy water-storing leaves. These would actually be perennial forbs or shrubs.
- tree - Large single-trunked woody plants (excluding cacti here).
- vine - Plants with long, weak, trailing stems incapable of supporting themselves upright. They may be herbaceous or woody.
- vine, non-woody - Vines with herbaceous stems. These may be annual or perennial.
- vine, woody - Vines with woody stems.
Sonoran Desert Plant Definitions
Life Forms * Armaments * Leaves A * Leaves B
List of Plants of the Sonoran Desert