Geophyte - an uncomfortable definition ?

Kenneth Hixson
Sun, 25 Jan 2004 13:31:47 PST
Hi, members:
>Now it is getting more interesting!   Can an epiphyte be a geophyte?  I'd 
>say, "No."  That would be an oxymoron.  I take the "geo" part to actually 
>mean "in the ground."  But am I correct in understanding it this way?

	I'd say yes--because a bulb may grow on something, as rocks or trees
for instance, and also in the ground.  And how do you class true bulbs which
have only their roots in the ground, with the bulb aboveground--a garden
onion for instance?  Many orchids have "pseudobulbs", may loose their leaves, 
and certainly have a dormant period.  They may also grow as an epiphyte
or grow in the ground depending on circumstances.

>I also understand the term "geophyte" to indicate a dormant period in the 
>annual growth cycle.  One definition I saw somewhere defined geophytes as 
>herbaceous perennials etc.  An above-ground bulb might fit that definition 
>if for part of each year it were totally leafless.

>1)  a) Does in fact the "geo" in "geophyte" mean "in the ground" 
>or   b)  can it also mean "on the ground"?

	Or does it refer to "the Earth" as in geosyncronous orbit?	

>2)  a)  Does a plant have to be an herbaceous perennial to be a 
>geophyte?   b)  Does a plant have to have a leafless period in each annual 
>growth cycle to be a geophyte?
	Are Crinums geophytes--not all are deciduous, and (some)are bulbs.
	Suppose a plant is a true bulb, and a wildfire burns off all
foliage, but the bulb survives-is it a geophyte while the same species
a mile away, not burned and still possessing foliage, not a geophyte?
A plant exposed to drought or frost, and loosing its' foliage, while a
similiar plant retains its' foliage if not so exposed?  A plant in a
greenhouse, vs. one outside?

	In the end, isn't the term geophyte about the same as the term "genus"
or "species"?  Ie, a manmade term used to describe a concept, which may or
may not accurately describe what is actually observed in nature?
	I can't even define the difference between plants and animals.
Fungi are plants, with no roots, usually no chlorophyll, so do not directly
manufacture their own food-although they can break down food elements from
other plants and animals.  Bacteria are animals, what are viruses-or prions?

	Plants or animals do not care what we call them, they just try to
survive and propagate, and adapt to any available ecological niche.  The
problem is not the natural world, it is that mankind is not able to accurately
label or define the concepts it tries to use to describe what can be observed 
in the real world.  My problem isn't to label things, but to understand what
they are-and sometimes, try to share that understanding.  If I say "geophyte"
can you get a general understanding of what I mean, even if not all the 
details of what I understand?  Labels, terms, or names are a kind of
to share understanding.

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