Website Glossary

Alien Species: Species growing in Hawaii that were not present on any of the islands before arrival of humans.

Antineoplastic:  Preventing, inhibiting or halting the growth or spread of neoplasms (tumors) and malignant cells.

Asclepiad:  A plant belonging to the subfamily Asclepiadoideae of the family Apocynaceae.

Biopesticides:  A contraction of the words “biological pesticides”.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines biopesticides as certain types of pesticides derived from such natural materials as animals, plants, bacteria, and certain minerals. For example, canola oil and baking soda have pesticidal applications and are considered biopesticides.  In our usage on this website we include only pesticides derived from living things.

Branches:  In our discussions of Hoodia morphology this term refers to vegetative appendages (side shoots) growing off a vertical shoot.

Canoe Plant:  A plant brought to the Hawaiian Islands by the early settlers from Polynesia.

Capsule:  A dry dehiscent fruit containing multiple walled structures (carpels).  At maturity the fruit splits apart (dehisces) releasing the seeds within.

CB: Abbreviation for Christmasberry or Christmas berry (Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi).

CITES:  Acronym for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Coma: A cluster of fine, transparent hairs attached to a seed.

Critically Endangered Species:  A species categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Cultivar:  A shortened term for “cultivated variety”.  Cultivars are assembled varieties of plants selected for desirable characteristics that are maintained during propagation.

Diploid:  Having two sets of chromosomes, with one set inherited from each parent.

Diploid Number:  The total number of chromosomes in each cell.

Endangered Species:  A plant or animal species that exists in such small numbers that it is likely to become extinct.

Endemic:  Plants that evolved on the Hawaiian Islands and are not found growing anywhere else without human intervention.

Extinct:  Species that have no living members.

Extinct in the Wild: A species that has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as only known by living members kept in captivity or as a naturalized population outside its historic range due to massive habitat loss.

F1 Hybrid:  An F1 hybrid (or filial 1 hybrid) is the first filial generation of offspring of distinctly different parental types.

F2 Hybrid:  An F2 hybrid (or filial 2 hybrid) is the second filial generation resulting from a cross of two individuals of the F1 generation.

F3 Hybrid:  An F3 hybrid (or filial 3 hybrid) is the third filial generation resulting from a cross of two individuals of the F2 generation.

Follicle:  A dry unilocular  (single chambered) fruit formed from one carpel, containing one or more seeds.  It is usually defined as dehiscing by a suture to release seeds.

Functionally Extinct:  When only a small number of individuals of a species survive and they cannot reproduce.

Genotype: The sum total of genetic information (DNA sequence) comprising the unique genome of an organism.  The term also refers to a specific combination of alleles for a particular gene or locus.  The genotype is a major factor determining the of the phenotype of an organism.

Genotype Code:  An alphanumeric code that we use to identify plants with a unique genome.  The code consists of sections separated by dashes in the following order:  abbreviation for the species taxon; code for the plant source or seed lot; number assigned to the individual plant from the source or seed lot.  Additional numeric codes may be applied as a suffix to the genotype code to identify clones (cuttings), and successive clones produced from the genotype and the year(s) of production. For example, the Genotype Code HRX-SL54-007 identifies the plant as of the taxon Hoodia ruschii hybrid, an individual plant (seedling) numbered 7, grown from Seed Lot 54.  The genotype code HRX-SL54-007-06(16) would signify the sixth cutting made from the plant in the year 2016.  The genotype code HRX-SL54-007-012(13)-06(16) would signify the sixth cutting produced in 2016 from the twelfth cutting produced in 2013 from the referenced seedling.

HPWRA:  Abbreviation for Hawai’i-Pacific Weed Assessment.

Indigenous:  Plant species that evolved outside the Hawaiian Islands, were transported to the islands by natural forces and formed natural populations here before human arrival.

Invasive Species An alien species that is not native to Hawaii or the Hawaiian ecosystem under consideration whose introduction and spread causes or is likely to cause harm to the economy, environment or human health. Invasive plants are both non-native and able to establish on many sites, grow quickly, and spread to the point of disrupting existing plant communities or ecosystems.  Examples of environmental harm caused by invasive species include modification of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity.   In common usage, the terms “invasive” and “invasives” are used as abbreviated singular and plural forms of “invasive species”.

HK:  Abbreviation for Ho`omalu Ka`ū.

Ho`omalu Ka`ū:  A nonprofit organization in Nā`ālehu, Hawai’i engaged in conservation of dryland forest plants and other activities relating to the culture, history and health of Ka`ū and its people.

Horns or Seed Horns:  The fruit of an asclepiad plant consisting of a pair of slender horn-like follicles.

IUCN:  International Union for Conservation of Nature

Kahuna Lāàu Lapa àu:  Native Hawaiian herbalist-physicians.

Native Plant: A plant that is a part of the balance of nature that has developed over hundreds or thousands of years on a Hawaiian island or a specific Hawaiian ecosystem.  As used here, this term includes endemic and indigenous Hawaiian plants, and Polynesian introduced plants.

Naturalized Plant: A non-native plant that does not need human help to reproduce and maintain itself over time in an area of where it is not native.  By this definition invasive plants are a subset of naturalized plants.  However, the term “naturalized” is commonly used to refer to plants that do not, over time, become invasive or permanent members of the local plant community. Many naturalized plants are found primarily near human-dominated areas.  Sometimes “naturalized” is used (confusingly) to refer specifically to naturally reproducing, non-native plants that do not invade areas dominated by native vegetation.

NAR: Abbreviation for Natural Area Reserve.

Non-native Plant: A plant introduced with human help (intentionally or accidentally) to a new place or new type of habitat where it was not previously found.

Noxious Weed: A plant (native or non-native) that is particularly troublesome. As defined in the legal context of the Federal Plant Protection Act it is any plant or plant product that can directly or indirectly injure or cause damage to crops (including nursery stock or plant products), livestock, poultry or other interests of agriculture, irrigation, navigation, the natural resources of the United States, the public health, or the environment.

Pappus (plural pappi):  A tuft of hairs on a seed that assists in its dispersal by the wind.

Phenotype:  The composite of observable characteristics, traits or behaviours displayed by an organism under a particular set of environmental conditions.

PIER:  Abbreviation for the Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk project.

Plant Patent:  A right granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office that allows the patent owner to exclude others from propagating the patented plant variety, or from selling our using it, or any of its parts in the United States.  Owners of plant patents may also prohibit importation of patented plants or plant parts into the United States.

Pollinarium (plural pollinaria):  The pollen bearing structure found in the flowers of asclepiad plants that becomes attached to an insect during pollination.

Polynesian Plant:  Plants introduced on the Hawaiian islands by the first Polynesian settlers.  These are sometimes referred to as “canoe plants.”  They are not endemic or indigenous plants.

Polyploid Having more than two paired (homologous) sets of chromosomes per cell.

Pono A Hawaiian word expressing the personal and organizational value of rightness, excellence, order and balance.  It is part of the state motto: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono or “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”.

ROD:  Abbreviation for Rapid Ōhià Death.

Seed Lot:  A discrete batch of seed received on a specific date, from a specific source and packaged in a single packaging.  For Hoodia and other asclepiad seeds from plants that we grow the seed lot number refers to seeds originating from a single flower that would be disbursed from one pair of follicles (seed horn).

Sclerophyllous:  Plants with hard leaves, short distances between leaves along the stem (internodes) and leaf orientations parallel or oblique to direct sunlight).

Shoot:  A stem and its leaves, lateral and flower buds.  In our discussions of Hoodia plants, we use this term to refer only to single stems extending vertically from the base of the plant, not the vegetative appendages (side shoots) extending horizontally from the shoots that we refer to as branches.

Species:  Species (abbreviated sp., with the plural form species abbreviated spp.) is the basic unit of biological classification and a taxonomic rank.  A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which two individuals can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction.

spp.  An abbreviation for the plural form of the term “species”.

ssp.  An abbreviation for the term “subspecies”.

subsp.  An abbreviation for the term “subspecies”.

Subspecies:  A taxonomic rank subordinate to species (abbreviated “subsp.” or “ssp.”).  Subspecies (either an individual subspecies, or collective group of subspecies) are genetically or morphologically distinct among other subspecies belonging to the same species, yet can still produce viable offspring from interbreeding.

Tetraploid:  Having four sets of chromosomes per cell.

Translocated Plant:  A plant not native to the island or habitat where it is now found.

Tubercle:  On the hoodias this refers to the deltoid, laterally flattened projections arranged in vertical rows running longitudinally up the stems of asclepiad plants such as Hoodia.  Each tubercle is tipped with a spine.

var.  An abbreviation for the term “variety”.

Variety:  A taxonomic rank below that of species and subspecies.  Varieties have distinct characteristics that distinguish them from other varieties and may be naturally occurring or selected for by human intervention e.g., plant breeding.  We refer to varieties developed in cultivation as “cultivars”.

Vulnerable Species: A species that has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

Weed: In common usage, a weed is a plant (native or non-native) that is not valued in the place where it is growing.  The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) definition refers to any plant that poses a major threat to agriculture and/or natural ecosystems within the United States.


Group of flowers of Metrosideros polymorpha (Ōhià)

Flowers of Metrosideros polymorpha (Ōhià)
In Cultivation at Discovery Harbour, Hawaii
Photo licensed CC BY-SA