Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Seed Lending Library

Glossary of Terms

Annual any plant that completes its life cycle in one growing season.
Biennial any plant that completes its life cycle over two growing seasons, with initial growth in the first season and reproduction in the second season.
Bolt the upward growth of flowers from a plant that has basal vegetation, e.g., lettuce. To go to seed.
Chaff the dry seed coverings, flowers, or other particles found with seeds after threshing.
Coat (seed coat)
the protective layer on the outside of a seed.
Debris any unwanted particles in a collection of harvested seeds. See also: “chaff ”.
Flailing the process of beating dry plants against a hard surface to loosen seeds for gathering.
Germinate the sprouting of a seed.
Heirloom any variety of open-pollinated crop that had bred true-to-type for generations, usually predating 1945.
Hybrid a crop variety created by crossing two different varieties. These plants will not breed true-to-type.
Mulching covering the ground with certain types of organic matter (hay, leaves, compost) to enrich and insulate soil.
Open-pollinated   
any variety of plant which breeds true even when randomly mated within its own variety.
Overwinter to keep a biennial plant alive through the cold season.
Perennial any plant that returns each growing season, usually producing flowers and seeds from the same roots year after year.
Pod (seed pod) the shell that covers and contains seeds on certain varieties of plants, e.g., peas or beans.
Root cellar an underground storage room or rooms used to keep plants for overwintering due to its characteristically cool, damp environment.
Screening to separate seeds from chaff and other debris by using particularly gauged screens that allow either seeds or chaff to fall through while holding the other back.
Seed coat see “coat”
Seed pod see “pod"
Thresh any process used to separate seeds from their parent plants.
Treading a process of threshing by putting seed pods in or under cloth and stomping or treading on them.
True-to-type any plant that displays characteristics and qualities that are expected of its variety.
Variety a group of plants that are genetically related and have uniform traits and characteristics.
Winnow separating seeds from chaff, usually by pouring them into another container in such a way that the wind or a fan can blow the lightweight chaff away, leaving seeds behind.