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Specialty Wheat Glossary - Plant

New, Uncommon, and Specialised Words in the World of Wheat


Learning about wheat plant morphology can help us understand the structure and function of the different parts of the plant, which can be useful in a variety of contexts such as plant breeding, crop management, and pest and disease control. Additionally, understanding the morphological characteristics of wheat can also aid in identifying and differentiating between different wheat varieties.


Anthers:


An anther is a part of a wheat plant's reproductive structure, specifically it is the male reproductive organ of a flower that produces and contains the pollen grains. In a wheat plant, the anthers are found on the spikelets, which are small clusters of flowers located on the wheat head. The anthers are usually located at the top of the spikelets and are usually yellow in color.


The anthers play a crucial role in the reproduction process of the wheat plant. They produce and contain the pollen, which is necessary for fertilization to occur. The pollen is then carried by wind or insects to the female reproductive structure, called the pistil, which is located on the same spikelet. Once the pollen reaches the pistil, it is able to fertilize the ovules, which will then develop into the wheat kernel.


Anthers also have a role in plant breeding, as they are used to create hybrids, which are plants with unique characteristics that are created by cross-breeding two different varieties.


It's worth noting that during the flowering stage, the anthers of the wheat will be shed and release pollen, this is a key moment for the fertilization of the ovules in the pistil, if the pollen is not able to reach the pistil the plant will not produce any grain.


Understanding the timing of this stage and optimizing the growing conditions for the plant can have a significant impact on the yield of the crop.


Awn / Beard:


An awn is a stiff, bristle-like structure that is found on the head of certain types of wheat plants. The awns are usually located at the tip of the spikelets. They are usually longer than the lemma, which is the bract or protective leaf of the spikelet.


Awns are important for the reproduction process of the wheat plant as they help to disperse the pollen more effectively. The wind can catch the awns and cause them to move, which helps to disperse the pollen from the anthers to the pistils, allowing fertilization to occur.


Awns also have a role in plant breeding, as they are used to create different varieties of wheat. Some varieties of wheat have longer awns and some have shorter awns, this characteristic is used to classify different types of wheat.


Awns can also have an impact on the harvesting process and the final quality of the wheat grain. Longer awns can make it difficult to harvest the wheat and can also cause damage to the grain during the threshing process. Some varieties of wheat have been developed to be awnless to avoid this issue.


Floret:


A floret is a small individual flower that makes up the spikelets. The spikelets contain both the male and female reproductive structures, the anthers and pistils respectively. Each spikelet has one or more florets, depending on the variety of wheat.


The florets are protected by two bracts, called the lemma and palea, which enclose the reproductive organs. The lemma is the lower bract and is usually awned, while the palea is the upper bract and usually lacks an awn.


Each floret produces one or more ovules which will develop into the wheat kernel if fertilized by the pollen produced by the anthers.

Florets play an important role in the reproduction process of the wheat plant and are also used to classify different varieties of wheat. For example, some varieties of wheat have one floret per spikelet, while others have two or more. Understanding the characteristics of the florets can help farmers to identify the varieties of wheat that are best suited for their growing conditions.


Spike:


A spike is the main reproductive structure of a wheat plant, it is formed by the spikelets that are arranged in a stem-like structure, usually elongated and cylindrical. The spike is also known as the wheat head, it's the part of the plant that contains the flowers, which will later develop into the wheat kernels. The spike is typically located at the top of the stem of the wheat plant and can be either erect or nodding.


The spike is an important structure for the reproduction of the wheat plant, as it contains the flowers that will produce the wheat kernels. The characteristics of the spike, such as the number of spikelets per spike, can be used to classify different varieties of wheat and can help farmers to identify the varieties that are best suited for their growing conditions.


The spike also plays an important role in the harvest process, as it is the part of the plant that is cut to collect the grain. The size, shape and color of the spike can indicate the maturity of the wheat plant, and it's also important in determining the quality of the grain.


Spikelet:


A spikelet is a small cluster of flowers found on the wheat head (spike) of a wheat plant. It is a compact structure that contains both the male and female reproductive structures, the anthers and pistils respectively. Each spikelet typically contains one or more florets, which are the small individual flowers that make up the spikelet.


The spikelets are usually arranged in a linear or spiral pattern along the spike, and they are surrounded by bracts, called the lemma and palea, which enclose the reproductive organs. The lemma is the lower bract and is usually awned, while the palea is the upper bract and usually lacks an awn.


The spikelets play an important role in the reproduction process of the wheat plant, as they contain the flowers that will produce the wheat kernels. The characteristics of the spikelets, such as the number of florets per spikelet, can be used to classify different varieties of wheat and can help farmers to identify the varieties that are best suited for their growing conditions.


Stigma:


The stigma is the female reproductive organ of a wheat plant, it's located at the top of the pistil, which is the female reproductive structure of the floret. The stigma is the receptive surface of the pistil, where the pollen grains germinate, and it's a sticky surface that traps the pollen. Once the pollen grains are trapped, they start to grow a tube that will reach the ovules and fertilize them, leading to the formation of the wheat kernel.


The stigma is typically located at the tip of the pistil and is usually a pale or light-colored structure. It can vary in shape, size and color depending on the variety of wheat.


The stigma plays a crucial role in the reproduction process of the wheat plant. It's the receptive surface where the pollen germinates and fertilizes the ovules. Understanding the characteristics of the stigma can help farmers to identify the varieties of wheat that are best suited for their growing conditions.


It's worth noting that the timing of the flowering stage, which is when the anthers shed their pollen and the stigma becomes receptive, is very important for the fertilization process to occur. The conditions of the environment such as temperature and humidity, as well as the agricultural practices such as irrigation, can affect the timing of the flowering stage and the success of the fertilization.



Tiller:


A tiller, also known as a shoot, is a stem that grows from the base of a wheat plant, just above the soil surface. Tiller growth occurs after the plant has established itself and the main stem has grown a few leaves. As the plant continues to grow, new tillers will develop, each with its own leaves and eventually with its own heads (spikes) that can produce grain.


Tillers are important for the growth and development of the wheat plant as they increase the total leaf area and therefore the photosynthetic capacity of the plant, which can result in increased grain yield. Tillers also help the plant to produce more heads (spikes) and therefore more grain.


Tiller development can be influenced by environmental factors such as temperature, moisture, and light, as well as by the variety of wheat and the agricultural practices used. For example, high nitrogen levels can increase tiller development, while high plant populations can inhibit tiller development.


Stem:


The stem, also known as the straw, is the primary support structure of a wheat plant. It is the part of the plant that connects the roots to the leaves and the spike. The stem is composed of nodes and internodes. Nodes are the points on the stem where leaves and tillers are attached, and internodes are the sections of the stem between the nodes.


The stem of a wheat plant is typically green in color and can range in thickness depending on the variety of wheat and the growing conditions. The stem is responsible for transporting water and nutrients from the roots to the rest of the plant and also for providing structural support.


As the wheat plant grows, the stem will elongate and can reach a height of 2-4 feet. The stem will also thicken as the plant develops, this is important for the plant to support the weight of the developing spike and the grain.


Root:


The roots of a wheat plant are the underground portion of the plant that absorbs water and nutrients from the soil. They are responsible for anchoring the plant in the soil and for absorbing water and essential minerals, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are needed for growth and development.


The root system of a wheat plant is typically composed of a taproot and several lateral roots. The taproot is the main root that grows downward and can reach a depth of up to 4 feet. The lateral roots are smaller roots that grow out from the sides of the taproot, they spread horizontally and can reach a width of up to 2 feet.


The root system of a wheat plant is also responsible for the plant's ability to withstand environmental stressors such as drought, as it's able to reach deeper layers of soil where water is more available. Additionally, the root system also plays a role in nutrient cycling and soil health as it helps to decompose organic matter in the soil and thus returning nutrients to the soil.



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