macassar oil n. a sweet-scented oil extracted from the flowers of a small tree (Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook.f. & Thomson, of the Annonaceae), native to Malaysia, and used in perfumery, and also in aromatherapy; ylang-ylang. [< Makassar, a trading port of eastern Indonesia]
mac·u·late (mak´yə lāt´) adj. blotchy and patched with alternating colours; flecked; notate. —v.t. mark with spots of alternating colours. [ME < L maculare mark with a spot] —mac´u·la´tion, n.
mae·nol (mäē´nol) n. farm. [W]
Magnoliophyta n. according to ICBN, a divisio comprising all flowering plants sensu stricta, but excluding certain extinct groups of uncertain affinities; sub-classis Angiospermae Lindl.. [< NL Magnoliophyta Cronquist, Tahkt., & W.Zimm.]
ma·la·co·phi·ly (ma´lə kä´fē lē) n. pollination by agency of a mollusk. [< Gk. malakos μαλακός soft, gentle + philía φιλίᾳ affinity] —ma´la·co´phi·lous, adj.
ma·la·co·phyll·ous (ma´lə kä´fi ləs) adj. of plants growing in dry regions, bearing fleshy leaves capable of storing water. [< Gk. malakos μαλακός soft + phýllon φύλλον leaf + L -osus full of, prone to]
Malaysian oak n. the wood of the Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis (Willd. ex A.Juss.) Müll.Arg., of the Euphorbiaceae), suitable for various types of woodwork if treated for protection from fungi and insect-borers; parawood; plantation hardwood; rubberwood.
male cork n. in the harvesting of cork, the coarser cork recovered from the first two harvestings of a given tree. [< Sp. capa macho male skin]
mam·mil·la (mam´ə lə) n. -læ. a relatively-large nipple-like or lens-like protuberance, generally present alone or in small numbers. [< L mamilla teat]
mam·il·lose (mam´ə lōs´) adj. bearing nipple-like protuberances; mammilate. [< LL mamillātus < L mamilla teat + -osus full of, prone to]
ma·quis (mä kē´) n., n.pl. 1 a dense brush formation, consisting of evergreen shrubs and small trees, native to Corsica and other coastal regions of the Mediterranean. 2 usually, Maquis. the French underground resistance movement active during the second world war, or a member of this group. [< F < Ital. macchia brushwood]
marc (märk) n. 1 the remnant of grapes or other fruit which have been pressed for winemaking. 2 the spirit which may be distilled from these remnants. [< F marcher tread or trample]
march (märch) n. v.i. —n. a region or territory where two lands border each other. —v.i. (usu. march with) of a territory or estate, border upon another land, territory, or estate. [ME < OF marche < Gmc.]
market garden n. a garden in which vegetables and/or fruit are cultivated for sale at the roadside or in a market.
marsh (märsh) n. soft, wet, shallow organic ground, without trees or peat, but bearing such graminoids as sedges or rushes; fen. Marshes tend to contain alkaline water, and may often be found on tidelands. [< ME mershe < OE mer(i)sc < Gmc.; ? < LL mariscus] —marsh´i·ness, n. —marsh´like, adj. —marsh´y, adj.
marsh-flag n. the common yellow iris of Europe (Iris pseudacorus L., of the Iridaceae); gladden; gladdon; yellow flag.
marsh·land (märsh´land) n. terrain characterised by presence of marshes.
marsh·locks (märsh´lox) n. a sprawling shrub native to circumboreal river and lake shores (Comarum palustre L., of the Rosaceae), bearing palmatipinnate compound leaves and unusual purple calyx and corolla; comaret; cinquefoil.
mas·su·la (mas´ū lə) n. -læ. within the antheral theca of flowers of familia Orchidaceae, a mass of pollen tetrads deriving from a single archesporial cell, which detach as a unit to form a pollinium. [< L mas male + Med.L sula every single thing]
Melegueta pepper n. an herb (Aframomum melegueta K.Schum., of the Zingiberaceae) native to tropical Africa, and whose ground seeds are used as a spice more versatile than black pepper.
mem·brane (mem´brān) n. 1 a thin, and often translucent or transparent, pliable sheet of tissue, either separating cavities or acting as a lining upon another tissue. 2 in cell morphology, a pliable molecular construct serving as an envelope for a cell or for certain cell organelles. [< ME membraan parchment < L membrana skin, parchment]
mem·bra·nous (mem´brə nəs) adj. 1 resembling a membrane, thin and (often) translucent or transparent. 2 characterised by a capability to form a membrane. [< MF membraneux < membrane < L membrana skin, parchment]mem·bra·nous (mem´brə nəs) adj. 1 resembling a membrane, thin and (often) translucent or transparent. 2 characterised by a capability to form a membrane. [< MF membraneux < membrane < L membrana skin, parchment]
mes·si·cole (mes´i kōl´) adj. n. —adj. of or pertaining to a plant, taxon, or community which thrives when growing amid cereal crops. —n. a plant or taxon which thrives when growing amongst a cereal crop. [F < Ital. messicola < L messis harvest + colo inhabit]
me·ze·re·on (me zē´rē on) n. a shrub native to boreal Eurasia (Daphne mezereum L., of the Thymelaeaceae), reaching 1m in height, and bearing strongly-scented flowers with 4 roseate sepals, and red drupes. This plant is often used as the namesake for familia Thymelaeaceae. [ML < Ar. māzaryūn < Persian]
mi·celle (mī´sel´) n. a loosely-bound aggregation of polymeric molecules and ions, comprising a colloid. This is the basis of nutrient retention in soils. [NL mīcella, dim. of L mīca crumb] —mi·cel´lar, adj.
mi·cro·fil·a·ment (mī´krō fil´ə ment) n. a structural component of eucaryotic plant and fungal cells, present in the cytoplasm, often upon the plasmalemma or at the frontier of the stationary ectoplasm and mobile endoplasm, and associated with directed movement. They comprise protein filaments of actin, in parallel strands of three or four actin fibrils. [NL < Gk. mikros μικρός small + L filamentum a fine, untwisted thread]
mi·cro·spe·cies (mī´krə spē´sēz) n. -cies. a population of individual organisms all sharing an identical genetic identity and physical characteristics; biotype. [NL < Gk. mikros μικρός small + L speciés appearance, form, sort, kind]
mi·cro·tu·bule (mī´krō tū´būl) n. -bu·li. a structural component of eucaryotic plant cells, present in the cytoplasm, often near the plasmalemma or within flagella, and associated with directed movement. They comprise helical polymers of tubulin, either in twinned dimers or in alternating dimer pairs. [NL < Gk. mikros μικρός small + L tubulus small tube]
milk-vetch n. 1 any of various species of the north-temperate genus Astragalus L. (of the Fabaceae: Papilionoideae), perennial herbs bearing pinnate leaves. 2 any of a number of related species of genus Oxytropis DC. (also of the Fabaceae: Papilionoideae), silky-downy perennial herbs bearing pinnate leaves. [named for a long-supposed belief that one species (Astragalus glycyphyllos L., native to Greece) is useful in augmenting milk production in goats]
milk·weed (milk´wēd´) n. any of numerous robust perennial herbs of the widespread genus Asclepias L. (of the Asclepiadaceae, sometimes incorporated in the Apocynaceae), all bearing milky latex. The fruit of these plants are follicles producing plumed seeds. [< OE milc, meoloc milk + wēod troublesome plant]
milk·wort (milk´wôrt´) n. 1 any of numerous low glabrous perennials of the genus Polygala L. (of the Polygalaceae), bearing spikes of small distinctive flowers comprising 3 tiny sepals and 2 large coloured ones, encompassing a tube formed of 3 adnate petals and 8 stamens, frequently white but often blue, purple or pink. The plants were previously regarded as useful to augment lactation. 2 one unrelated species common to boreal temperate seacoasts (Glaux maritima L., of the Primulaceae), bearing small pink 5-merous flowers which somewhat suggest those of milkwort; sea-milkwort. [< OE milc, meoloc milk + wyrt herb, plant]
mille-fleurs (mēl´flər) n. an artistic background motif comprising many small flowers and plants, common especially in tapestries produced during the middle ages in France and Flanders, and verging into the Baroque period. It may also be used to describe certain motifs present in Arabian rugs. [F mille-fleurs a thousand flowers]
mil·pa (mil´pä) n. 1 a sociocultural crop-growing system practiced in Mesoamerica, in which various crops would be cultivated together in a small field for (usually) 2 years, followed by 8 years of fallow, and without need for extraneous pesticides or fertilizer. 2 a corn crop. [< Nahuatl milpa < milli field + -pa towards]
mim·ic (mim´ik) v.t. n. —v.t. resemble or imitate another species, or (more often) particular characteristics of another species. —n. a species which exhibits similar characteristics to another unrelated species. [< L < Gk. mimikōs μιμικός] —mim´ic·ry, n.
mod·el (mod´əl) n. v.t. mod·elled, mod·el·ling. —n. 1 that which is used as an example to imitate or mimic. 2 that which serves as an excellent example of a concept or quality. —v.t. strive to imitate another species, organ, or concept which serves as a model. [< F modelle < It. modello < L modulus little measure]
mon·ad (mon´ad) n. of spores and (in some cases) other reproductive cells, consisting of and dispersed as a solitary cell. [< Gk. monas μόνας single + -ad -αδ collective noun suffix]
mon·de·green (mon´di grēn´) n. a word or phrase which is misinterpreted from that which is spoken, usually in song lyrics. [originally used by US writer Sylvia Wright, in 1954, who heard the line “laid him on the green” of the Scottish ballad ‘The Bonny Earl of Murray’ as the nearly homonymous “Lady Mondegreen”]
mondo grass n. any low-growing herb of the genus Ophiopogon Ker Gawl. (especially O. japonicus (L.f.) Ker Gawl., of the Convallariaceae), native to Asia, whose leaves resemble those of grass, and which bear lavender or white flowers. [< NL Mondo Adans. (of the Convallariaceae)]
mon·o·carp (mon´ə karp´) n. a plant which produces fruit a single time before dying. [< Gr. monos μόνος single, a unit + karpos καρπος fruit]
mon·o·car·py (mon´ə kar´pē) n. the production of fruit a single time before dying; hapaxanthy; semelparity. [< Gr. monos μόνος single, a unit + karpos καρπος fruit + E -y (< OF -ie < L -ia suffix indicating condition or quality)] —mon´o·car´pic, adj.
mon·o·col·pate (mon´ə kōl´pāt) adj. of angiosperm pollen, having or bearing a single colpus, characteristic of many petaloid monocotyledon genera. [NL < Gk. monos μόνος single + LL colpus strike, hit]
mont·bre·tia (mänt brē´shə or -shē ə) n. any species of the south African herbal genera Crocosmia Planch. and Montbretia DC. (both of the Iridaceae), growing from corms and bearing brightly-coloured trumpet-shaped flowers, and often cultivated in gardens. [< NL Montbretia DC. < A.F.E. Coquebert de Montbret (1780-1801), French botanist]
moon carrot n. an European perennial herb (either any species of Seseli L., or Libanotis pyrenaica (L.) O.Schwarz var. libanotis (L.) Reduron, all of the Apiaceae), bearing small white flowers in dense umbels, as well as a stout taproot; hartroot.
moon·seed (mün´sēd´) n. any of a genus of North American and Asian climbing plants (Menispermum L., of the Menispermaceae) which bear a crescent-shaped seed in their toxic black drupes, and usually cordate leaves. Certain related genera may also be called by this name. [< Gk. menōs μηνός moon + sperma σπέρμα seed]
moose·ber·ry (müs´bãr´ē) n. -ries. 1 a low shrub native to forests of temperate North America (Viburnum opulus L. var. edule Michx., of the Caprifoliaceae), bearing small corymbs of small white flowers, and later a few orange-red drupelets which are edible, as well as being a staple winter diet item for small birds. Its leaves tend to be coarsely-serrate, and often trilobate at the apex. Medicinal uses have been attributed to the buds, stems, and roots. 2 the fruit of this shrub. [< E moose + berry < Cree moosomina moose berry]
mo·pa·ne (mo pä´ni) n. a tree native to savannas of southwest Africa (Hardwickia mopane (J.Kirk ex Benth.) Breteler, of the Fabaceae: Caesalpinioideae), whose wood is very hard and durable; ironwood. [< Setswana mo-pane]
mor·pho·sis (môr´fō´sis) n. -ses. the development of an organism, or of certain of its parts, by structural change. [< Gk. mórphōsis μόρφωσις production of shape] —mor·phot´ic, adj.
mor·pho·tax·on (môr´fo tak´son´) n. -tax·a. a fossil taxon of any rank which, for nomenclatural purposes, comprises only the parts, life history stages, and preservational states represented by the corresponding nomenclatural type. This concept has been abandoned beginning with the Melbourne IBC in July 2011. [NL < Gk. morphē μορφή form + NL taxon]
mo·sa·ic (mō zā´ik) n. v.i. -icked, -ick·ing. —n. 1 a blended variegated pattern of two or more distinct species or communities. 2 mosaic disease. 3 an individual composed of two or more cellular genotypes. —v.i. 1 grow together in a mosaic. 2 exhibit the symptoms of mosaic disease. 3 combine to form a mosaic individual. [ME < F mosaïque < Ital. mosaico < L mosaicus, musaicus < Gk. mous(e)ion μουσεῖον mosaic work from muse]
mosaic disease n. a viral infection of plants which causes a variegated pattern of green and yellow to appear upon the leaf face.
mo·sa·i·cul·ture (mō zā´i kəl´chər) n. 1 an horticultural artwork composed of a variety of plant species chosen for their colour and texture, and their ability to grow upon a sculptural substrate. The result is a statue or sculpture composed of plants. 2 the process of growing such an artwork. [< ME mosaic (< F mosaïque < Ital. mosaico < L mosaicus, musaicus < Gk. mous(e)ion mosaic work from muse) + culture (< F < L cultura growing, cultivation)]
mos·chate (mos´kāt) adj. bearing or emitting a musky odour. [< NL moschatus musky < Gk. moschos μόσχος musk + L -ātus provided with]
mos·cha·tel (mos´kə tel´) n. a small, rhizomatous perennial herb (Adoxa moschatellina L., of the Adoxaceae), native to Eurasia and (probably as an introduction) in North America, bearing basal compound leaves (with a long petiole and twice-trifoliate/lobate) as well as 2 stem leaves (opposite and simply trifoliate with trilobate pinnæ); five-faced bishop. Its 5 pale yellow-green flowers are born at the apex, 4 facing outwards at 90° intervals (characterised by a trilobate calyx, 5-lobed corolla, and 10 golden stamens around an inferior ovary), and one facing upwards (characterised by a bilobate calyx, 4-lobed corolla, and 8 golden stamens around an inferior ovary), giving a musky scent. [< F moscatelle < It. moscatella (dim. of moscato musk) < Gk. moschos μόσχος musk]
mo·tile (mō´tīl) adj. capable of spontaneous movement; labile; vagile. [< L mōtus moved + -ilis, -īlis capacity] —mo·til´i·ty, n.
mountain cranberry n. -ries. any of a number of low-growing cranberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea L., V. macrocarpon Ait., and V. oxycoccus L., all of the Ericaceae), and especially their fruit.
mou·tan (mōü´tan´) n. a peony native to China (either of Paeonia moutan Sims, or P. suffruticosa Andrews, both of the Paeoniaceae), which grows as a tall shrub or small tree and bears large colourful flowers. [< Mandarin 牡丹 (mudan) tree peony]
mo·xa (mäk´sə) n. a flammable substance obtained from leaves of mugwort or wormwood plants, especially Artemisia moxa DC. or Crossostephium artemisioides Less. (both of the Asteraceae), native to China. It is used as a counterirritant, often ignited upon a modified accupuncture needle in the skin. [< J. mogusa < moe burn + kusa herb]
muellerian mimicry n. in botany, a mimicry shared between two (or more) species of plants which are comparable in abundance and behaviour, and where each achieves success by attracting the same pollinators using similar signals (generally flower appearance). [< Johann Friedrich (Fritz) Theodor Müller (1821-97), German and Brazilian biologist, farmer, and teacher, who proposed the concept]
muir (mēr or mür) n. Scot. a moor. [< Scot. muir moor < OE mōr < Gmc.]
muira puama (mwē´ɾä pwä´mä) n. a shrub or small tree native to the Amazon watershed and Guianas (Ptychopetalum olacoides Benth.) and/or the closely-related Dulacia inopiflora (Miers) Kuntze (both of the Olacaceae), and whose bark, stems and roots are used in tincture as an antioxidant, nerve tonic, and aphrodisiac. Both share the characteristic subopposite to alternate ovate leaves with acute base and tip, and small axillary spikes of flowers. [< Br. muira puama potence wood]
muir·burn (mēr´bėrn or mür´bėrn) n. Scot. a heather fire which clears old brush of that community, improving grazing conditions for livestock or improving wildlife habitat. [< Scot. muir moor (< OE mōr < Gmc.) + OE bærnen consume by fire (< Gmc.)]
mulch (məlch) n. v. —n. 1 a material laid down around a plant to cover and protect the soil, without causing damage to the plant. 2 an application of such material. —v. apply or treat with such material. [? < E dial. mulch soft < OE melsc, mylsc]
mul·ti·form (məl´ti fôrm´) adj. n. —adj. of a cultivar, described as having 2 or more unusual distinguishing characteristics. —n. a cultivar possessing these 2 or more unusual distinguishing characteristics.
mul·ti·for·mi·ty (məl´ti fôr´mi tē) n. 1 the state of possessing 2 or more unusual distinguishing characteristics. 2 the state of existence in which many different habits or growth forms may be exhibited.
mul·tip·ar·ous (məl tip´ėr əs) adj. especially with reference to cymes, developing many lateral axes at the floral apex. [< NL multiparus < L multi- many + parus bearing] —mul´ti·par´i·ty, n.
mu·re·in (mū rā´in or mū rēn´) n. a polymer which comprises polysaccharides and peptides, in a molecular network of essentially fixed size forming the cell wall of prokaryotes as well as of certain algæ; peptidoglycan. [NL < L murus wall + E -ein chemical compound]
-my·ce·tes (-mī sē´tēz) comb.form., suffix. ending for Latin names of classis of fungi, under the ICN. [< Gk. mykētos μύκητος a fungus]
-my·ce·ti·dæ (-mī sē´ti dē) comb.form., suffix. ending for Latin names of subclassis of fungi, under the ICN. [< Gk. mykētos μύκητος a fungus + L -idæ feminine plural adjectival suffix]
my·co·phage (mī´kə fāzh´) n. 1 a virus which is capable of infecting fungal cells. 2 an organism which feeds upon fungal cells. [NL < Gk. mykēs μύκης a fungus + -phagia φαγια eating, devouring]
my·co·pha·gy (mī´kə fā´zhē) n. the eating of fungal cells. [NL < Gk. mykēs μύκης a fungus + -phagia φαγια eating, devouring] —my·coph´a·gous, adj.
-my·co·ta (mī´kō´tə) comb.form., suffix. ending for Latin names of divisionis of fungi, under the ICN. [< Gk. mykēs μύκης a fungus + NL -ota pl. suffix (< Gk. -ōta -ωτα)]
-my·co·ti·na (mī´kō tē´nə) comb.form., suffix. ending for Latin names of subdivisionis of fungi, under the ICN. [< Gk. mykēs a fungus + NL -ota pl. suffix (< Gk. -ōta -ωτα) + -ina dim. suffix]