One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A modified leaf or scale, typically small, with a flower or flower cluster in its axil. Bracts are sometimes larger and more brightly coloured than the true flower, as in poinsettia.
- ‘Even though a continuum was observed between the ‘true’ leaves and bracts, for simplicity all primordia bearing an axillary flower were considered as a bract.’
- ‘Grasses and bamboos are known to have large deposits of silica in the tissues of leaf blades and inflorescence bracts.’
- ‘What we think are flowers are actually brightly hued leaf bracts.’
- ‘Flowers are generally borne solitarily in leaf axils or in inflorescences subtended by bracts, but some taxa are ebractate.’
- ‘In addition to a terminal flower there may be several smaller lateral flowers in the axil of cupular bracts, each surrounded by its own small cupule.’
Late 18th century: from Latin bractea ‘thin plate of metal’.
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