AskDefine | Define ligule

Dictionary Definition

ligule n : (botany) any appendage to a plant that is shaped like a strap

User Contributed Dictionary



From ligula, diminutive of liga


  1. A strap-shaped structure.
  2. A portion of a leaf found at the base of the petiole, when present.
  3. In many grasses (Poaceae) and some sedges (Cyperaceae), the membranous appendage or ring of hairs projecting from the inner side of a leaf at the junction between the blade and the sheath.

Extensive Definition

A ligule (from Latin ligula, diminutive of liga) can be observed in the leaf of a grass. It is a thin outgrowth at the junction of leaf and leafstalk.
The ligule is found at the inner base of the leaf between where the leaf attaches to the main stem and the stem itself. It may take several forms but is commonly some form of translucent membrane or a fringe of hairs. The membranous ligule can be very short 1–2 mm (Kentucky Bluegrass, Poa pratensis) to very long 10–20 mm (Johnson grass, Sorghum halepense), it can also be smooth on the edge or very ragged. Some grasses do not have a ligule, for example barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crusgali).
A ligule can also be defined as a membrane-like tissue or row of delicate hairs typically found in grasses at the junction of the leaf sheath and blade. The ligule appears to be a continuation of the leaf sheath and encircles or clasps the stem as does the leaf sheath. There are three basic types of ligules: membranous, a fringe of hairs (ciliate), and absent or lacking. Most grasses have ligules, and the shape, length, and appearance of the ligule margin provide consistent characters for separating genera and some species of grasses. In grass-like plants such as sedges (Cyperaceae) and rushes (Juncaceae), ligules are usually absent or poorly developed.
Ligules are also present in some non-grass species such as members of Asteraceae.
ligule in Czech: Jazýček (botanika)
ligule in German: Blatthäutchen
ligule in Spanish: Lígula
ligule in French: Ligule
ligule in Italian: Ligula
ligule in Dutch: Ligula
ligule in Polish: Języczek liściowy
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