[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [XYZ]


ALBESCENT – possessing leaves that begin yellow or more pigmented and become whiter as the season progresses; e.g., H. ‘Gold Standard’.

ANTHER – the upper part of the stamen, male flower part, in a capsule-like structure that splits to release yellow pollen.

AP0MIXIS – asexual seed produced without the normal fusion of pollen and egg giving rise to seedlings genetically identical to the pod parent; e.g., H. ventricosa.

AXILLARY – coming from the joint of a leaf and the stem.


BACKCROSS – a cross of an F1 (hybrid seedling) to either parent that generated it.

BLOOM – 1. flower 2. waxy coating on a leaf, stem, or pod surface producing a dusty appearance.

BLOOM TIME – the time period between when the first flower of a stem or clump opens or is receptive to pollination and the last flower is open or receptive.

BRACT – the diminutive or leaf-like structures on the scape below each flower.

BREEDER – hybridizer of the cultivar.


CATAPHYLLS – the often purplish short leaf-like coverings over the pips when they first emerge.

CENTERED-OUT – the dying out of the middle portion of a clump; often called Fairy Ring.

CHIMERA – containing cells of two or more different tissues.

CHIMERAL REARRANGEMENT – changing position of different tissues; i.e., gold-margined hosta producing a gold-centered or all gold division.

CLONE – a group of genetically identical individual plants produced by asexual propagation.

CORDATE – having acute leaf point or apex, and flat to cordate leaf base; shaped like valentine heart.

COROLLA – collective set of petals and sepals, fused into tepals.


CROSS (of two plants) – transfer of pollen from one plant onto the stigma of another; represented by x symbol: maternal (pod) parent x paternal (pollen) parent.

CROWN – the base of a plant where the roots and shoots join.

CULTIVAR – contraction word for “cultivated variety”; a plant that is clearly distinguished by identical physical characteristics and maintains these characteristics through clonal propagation

CUPPED – leaf blade having the center of the leaf lower than the margin, concave.


DIMPLES – slight form of Seersuckering.

DIVISION – (in Hosta) a single shoot with roots attached.

DRAWSTRING EFFECT – leaf distortion caused by expansion of leaf blade interior with correspondingly lesser expansion of margin tissue; e.g. H. ‘Lunar Eclipse’. Differs from cupping by distorted center.

DWARF – see MINIATURE. Obsolete term no longer used by The American Hosta Society.


EMERGED – having shoots above the ground.

EYE – undeveloped or dormant shoot; a dormant bud. Frequently used for any division.


F1 – the first filial generation. Generation resulting immediately from cross of first set of parents.

FASCIATED – flower stem composed of two or more stems growing in a fused bundle.

FEATHERS – small segments of a different color at the base of the leaf that do not reach the edge.

FERTILIZATION – 1. Application of nutrients; 2. union of egg and sperm.

FILAMENT – the long thin structure that holds the anther.

FLOWER STEM – the main stem of the inflorescence.

FOLDED – bent upward parallel to midrib, keel-shaped.

FURLED – having leaves with edges or sides curled or coiled in to the midrib; e.g. H. ‘Stetson’.


GENOTYPE – The genetic makeup of a plant.

GENUS – taxonomic division of related species below family.

GIANT – leaf blade area greater than 144 sq. inches.

GLABROUS – smooth hairless leaf texture.

GLAUCOUS – a crystalline waxy coating (or bloom) with an airy structure producing a white to blue coloring over the plant parts.


HEART-SHAPED – see CORDATE. having an acute leaf point or apex, and a flat to cordate leaf base; shaped like a valentine heart.

HYBRID – seedling from two distinct genetically different parents.


INFLORESCENCE – the flowering part of a hosta including the raceme, peduncle, pedicel, and flower.  See illustration at the bottom of this page.

INFLORESCENCE LEAVES – the larger, occasionally flat, leaf-like structures on the flower stem.

INTRODUCE – initially distribute.

INTRODUCER – person or nursery that first distributes the cultivar.


JETTING – having margin variegation not uniform: irregularly extends into or toward leaf center; e.g. H. montana ‘Aureomarginata’, H. montana ‘Choko Nishiki’.

JUVENILE – the pre-adult stages of a plant usually exemplified by more pointed, narrower leaves,fewer vein pairs, thinner marginal variegation, faster growth rate, and often  smaller leaf and clump size.



LANCE-SHAPED – having narrow pointed leaf tip, and leaf blade width less than one half the length of the blade.

LARGE – leaf blade area from 81 sq. inches to 144 sq. inches.

LEAF BLADE – the thin, usually flat part of leaf excluding the petiole.

LUTESCENT – possessing leaves which begin the season darker and become lighter or more yellow as the season progresses; not the result of bleaching due to poor nutrition or too much sun.


MACULATA – Latin term for spotted.

MATURE – a plant with general characteristics that do not change with continued aging.

MEDIO-VARIEGATED – leaf or leaves having a lighter center than the margin color.

MEDIUM – leaf blade area from 25 sq. inches to less than 81 sq. inches.

MELTING OUT – necrosis of the usually white or lighter-colored tissue.

MERISTEM – the region of rapidly expanding cells of one of the growing points of a plant that further differentiate to produce shoots, roots, and flowers.

MID-RIB – the center vein of a leaf.

MINIATURE – (aka MINI) –  leaf blade area less than 6 sq. inches.

MISTED – having small short segments of dark pigmented tissue on a lighter background.

MONIKER – Moniker in Hosta nomenclature is an identifying word in a cultivar’s name indicating the originator or introducer. A moniker is typically the first word and repeated in multiple cultivar names as H. ‘Lakeside Cha Cha’ and H. ‘Lakeside Paisley Print.’

MOTTLED – blotched spotting of leaf blade; e.g., H.’Cynthia’.

MUTATION – change in DNA of plant that can be transmitted through its sports and seedlings.


NECROSIS – the death or dying of cells, tissues, or whole plants.

NODE – the meristematic place on a stem where the leaf is attached.


OPEN POLLINATED – (aka OP)- progeny from open pollination.

OPEN POLLINATION – pollination without human assistance, i.e., by insects or wind.

ORIGINATOR – person or nursery who found or grew the cultivar.

ORIGINATOR STOCK – (aka OS)- divisions produced naturally from original plant; not tissue-culture propagated.

OVARY – the basal portion of the pistil where eggs are contained.

OVATE – leaves egg-shaped.


PANICLE – an inflorescence with the main axis branched; e.g., H. tibae.

PATTERN – leaf variegation.

PEDICEL – the structure attaching an individual flower to the flower stem.

PEDUNCLE – the main stem of the inflorescence; flower stem.

PETAL – the flower part that is often very colorful. In complete flowers, the petals are the second whorl, positioned just inside the sepals (see SEPAL and TEPAL).

PETIOLE – leaf stalk.

PHENOTYPE – physical appearance of plant.

PHOTOSYNTHESIS – process in chloroplasts containing chlorophyll that creates carbohydrates using light energy, water and carbon dioxide.

PIECRUST – a consistent rippled or crimped appearance limited to the outer edge of a leaf.

PISTIL – the female part of the flower consisting of style, stigma, and ovary.

POD – developed ovary or fruit containing seeds.

POLLEN – powdery yellow substance inside anthers carrying male gametes.

POLLINATION – the transfer of pollen to a receptive stigma.

PROGENY – offspring from sexual reproduction. Sometimes used to reference non-sexual reproduction offspring (e.g., sports, mutations).





RACEME – inflorescence with flowers attached individually to a main stem by pedicels.

REGISTRANT – person or nursery who registered cultivar.

REVERT – change of variegated sport back to its original solid colored parent.

RHIZOMATOUS – having long reaching underground horizontal stems; loosely spreading habit; e.g., H. clausa.

RUGOSE – wrinkled: a gathering of leaf between veins giving leaf bubbled, dimpled, puckered, seersuckered, crinkled, or corrugated effect.


SELF (verb) – to pollinate a hosta using pollen of the same plant or its clone

SCAPE – the stem bearing the complete set of flowers for a single division.

SEEDLING – plant of seed origin.

SEERSUCKERING – the gathering of a leaf between the veins giving a bubbled effect.

SELFING – the pollination of a clone by the same clone.

SEPAL – the flower part forming the outermost whorl of a flower. Sepals (typically) encase and protect the flower when it is in bud stage. Sepals are usually green except with hostas, they look just like the petals (see PETAL and TEPAL).

SHOOT – the stem and set of leaves of an individual division; the dormant set of leaves all enclosed in a single set of leaf scales.

SIBLINGS – seedlings from same parentage

SMALL – a plant with a leaf blade area from 6 sq. inches to less than 25 sq. inches.

SPECIES – taxonomic division (rank) of freely interbreeding populations of wild or naturally occurring individuals below rank of genus.

SPECKLED – small spotted irregular coloring.

SPLASHED – variegation pattern that has many non-connected light and dark variegated sections, usually in streaks, running nearly parallel to the midrib. An unstable form of variegation; e.g. H. ‘Beatrice’

SPORT – aka BUD SPORT – part of plant (offshoot or shoot) that deviates from rest of plant

STABLE – a plant that maintains its solid or variegated pattern when propagated by division.

STAMEN – the male flower parts consisting of the filament and the anther.

STIGMA – pollen-receptive female tip at end of style.


STREAKED – having irregular leaf color of differently colored stripes ranging from short dashes to long striations spanning the leaf length.

STYLE – the long tube connecting the stigma with the ovary.

SUBSTANCE – characteristic of leaf comprising thickness, density and rigidity.


TEPAL – the term used when the sepals and petals of a flower are indistinguishable. In hostas, the three exterior flower lobes are technically sepals (collectively, the calyx), and the three interior lobes are petals (collectively, the corolla), although because there is little difference between the sepals and petals of a hosta, they are called tepals

TEXTURE – the characteristics of the leaf surface to the eye.

TISSUE CULTURE – (aka TC) – growing plant fragments within nutrient medium to create clones of original plant.

TWISTED – leaf or scape rotated around itself producing askew condition.


UNDULATED – a course wave to the leaf blade; e.g., H.’Undulata’.

UNFURLED – the stage of leaf development when the blade is open and completely separated from the petiole.

UNSTABLE – not having true-to-type variegation in all divisions in a clump or not retaining true-to-type variegation from season to season.


VARIEGATED – leaf having more than one color due to a difference in pigment components.

VEIN PAIRS – the matched set of veins on opposite side of the center midrib.

VEINS – the prominent lines of connective tissue for carrying water and nutrients.

VIRIDESCENT – possessing of leaves which begin the season lighter colored and become more green as the season advances.



WHITE-BACKED – having a glaucous underside; e.g., H. hypoleuca.


The Hosta Inflorescence

For greater details, please see the following publications:

W. George Schmid, The Genus HOSTA / Giboshi zoku (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, Inc, 1991): 21-34, 357-364

Diana Grenfell & Michael Shadrack, The New Encyclopedia of Hostas (Portland Oregon: Timber Press, Inc, 2009): 443-444

Mark Zilis, The Hostapedia, An Encyclopedia of Hostas (Rochelle, Illinois: Q & Z Nursery, Inc, 2009): 31-37