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Inadequacy of leaf shape terminology

11/05/2011 9:02:29 p.m.
Technical terms for leaf shape description are so confusing that may people don't use them any more. Descriptions such as "elliptic to elliptic-oblong to broad ovate"; or "subrotund to broad-obovate or obovate-oblong"; are a turn-off and either length x width dimensions are given only or generic words such as "broad" or "narrow" are used. I would make a plea to bring back the technical words, but obtain consensus on their meaning having regard for their etymological origins, usually from Latin, but sometimes plain English words that have come to be misused in botany. To give an example, the term "elliptic" is commonly used, but, I think, wrongly. An ellipse is a section through a cone; it is a synonym for an oval. Yet it is commonly used to describe leaves with pointed tips and bases. A better term is lens-shaped: rounded sides with pointed ends. A lens shape is formed by the intersection of two circles of equal diameter.
17/05/2013 9:53:02 p.m.
Hi Philip,

You might be pleased to see we have added a live glossary to the website now and it has recently been fully illustrated. I too think there is a mistrust and sometimes misuse of technical terms at times and I hope that the glossary function will help demystify technical terms and encourage people to use them with confidence.

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