AskDefine | Define sepal

Dictionary Definition

sepal n : one of the green parts that form the calyx of a flower

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. one of the component parts of the calyx, when this consists of separate (not fused) parts.

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Extensive Definition

A sepal (from Latin separatus "separate" + petalum "petal") is a part of the flower of angiosperms or flower plants. Sepals in a "typical" flower are green and lie under the more conspicuous petals. As a collective unit the sepals are called the calyx of a flower.
The calyx is part of the perianth of the flower. The perianth is composed of the sepals (collectively called the calyx) and the corolla (which is the outer part of the flower with the inner part of the perianth composed of the petals). The petals and sepals are usually differentiated into colorful petals and green sepals. But many flowers have colorful sepals and lack petals or the sepals and petals look similar and are often called tepals. The term tepal is usually applied when the petals and sepals are not differentiated and look similar or the petals are absent and the sepals are colorful. When the flower is in bud, the sepals enclose and protect the more delicate floral parts within. Morphologically they are modified leaves.
The number of sepals in a flower (called merosity) is indicative of the plant's classification: eudicots having typically four or five sepals and monocots and palaeodicots having three, or some multiple of three, sepals.
There exists considerable variation in form of the sepals among the flowering plants. Often the sepals are much reduced, appearing somewhat awn-like, or as scales, teeth, or ridges. Examples of flowers with much reduced perianths are found among the grasses. In some flowers, the sepals are fused towards the base, forming a calyx tube. This floral tube can include the petals and the attachment point of the stamens.
sepal in Catalan: Sèpal
sepal in German: Kelchblatt
sepal in Estonian: Õietupp
sepal in Spanish: Sépalo
sepal in Esperanto: Kaliko
sepal in French: Sépale
sepal in Upper Sorbian: Keluškowe łopješko
sepal in Italian: Sepalo
sepal in Hebrew: עלי גביע
sepal in Dutch: Kelk (bloem)
sepal in Japanese: 萼
sepal in Portuguese: Sépala
sepal in Romanian: Sepală
sepal in Russian: Чашелистик
sepal in Turkish: Çanak yaprak
sepal in Chinese: 花萼
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