[Re:] Thorny questions

Thomas Lammers lammers at VAXA.CIS.UWOSH.EDU
Tue May 16 09:13:15 CDT 2000

At 10:54 AM 5/16/00 -0300, you wrote:

>Also, I vaguely remember that, in Germany, I learnt that there are two
>different thorn-like defense structures, namely "Dornen" and "Stacheln". I
>wonder whether this distinction meets any equivalent in English and what
>was it about and if it has anything to do with the preceeding.

Not sure about equivalencies, but basically there are three sorts of "sharp
things" in plants, based on tissues/organs involved:

"prickle" -- an outgrowth of the epidermis, basically a trichome, as in
Rosa spp.

"spine" -- modified leaf or leaf parts, as in Ilex aquifolium (leaf
margin), Robinia pseudoacacia (stipules), or Cactaceae (whole leaf).

"thorn" -- modified branch, as in Gleditsia triacanthos

Thomas G. Lammers, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor and Curator of the Herbarium (OSH)
Department of Biology and Microbiology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Oshkosh, Wisconsin 54901-8640 USA

e-mail:                     lammers at uwosh.edu
phone (office):         920-424-7085
phone (herbarium):  920-424-1002
fax:                         920-424-1101

Plant systematics; classification, nomenclature, evolution, and
biogeography of the Campanulaceae s. lat.
"Today's mighty oak is yesterday's nut that stood his ground."
                                                 -- Anonymous

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