Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A leaflike bract that encloses or subtends a flower cluster or spadix, as in the jack-in-the-pulpit and the calla.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A large bract that envelops or subtends a whole inflorescence, typically a spadix.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A special involucre formed of one leaf and inclosing a spadix, as in aroid plants and palms. See the Note under bract, and Illust. of spadix.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In botany, a peculiar often large and colored bract, or pair of bracts, which subtend or envelop a spadix, as in palms and arums.
  • n. In zoology, some spatulate or spoon-shaped part.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a conspicuous bract surrounding or subtending a spadix or other inflorescence

Etymologies

Latin spatha, broadsword, from Greek spathē, broad blade.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin spatha, from Ancient Greek σπάθη (spathê) "blade". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • An enveloping leaf (bract), called the spathe, which is often brilliantly colored, surrounds the florets, or fruits, that are disposed upon a spadix.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 460, October 25, 1884

  • -- Remarkably handsome plants with fine foliage and curious inflorescence more or less enclosed in a hooded spathe, which is generally richly coloured and marked.

    Gardening for the Million

  • a bloom, that evolves inside a tube like leaf, that is called 'spathe'; with the begining of bloom, the bloom comes out of the spathe, and the flowers open. each flower has six petals that surround a round petal, an addition which is called "tiara" a sort of crown like feature. the color of this tiara is either white or yellow. the flower has 6

    ReadABlog.com New Blogs and RSS Feeds

  • The blame lies with the plant's appearance – it has speckled leaves and its flowers are well-hidden, but their spathe (the special leaf that protects the flowers of an arum) and spadix (the spike on which the flowers are arranged), are said to resemble male and female genitalia.

    The power of spring flowers

  • Flowers: Its flowers bloom in a spadix surrounded by a yellow-green spathe.

    Caladium, candleabra cactus and canna lily: ornamental plants and flowers of tropical Mexico

  • I gave a prayer of thanks to Growan, for the sweetrush root belonged to the Crone, the shoot and leaves to the Maid, and the fat spathe and yellow flower to Wortweal, and all parts of it were useful.

    Wildfire

  • Now water is collected from the three hundred and sixty veins and, in the form of red blood, entereth the left testicle, where it is decocted, by the heat of temperament inherent in the son of Adam, into a thick, white liquid, whose odour is as that of the palm-spathe.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • This Colocasia is supposed to bear, unlike the palm, male and female flowers in one spathe.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • The umbel pod is covered in by the spathe, which often has a pronounced beak.

    Garlic Scapes

  • But at any rate when you go home to your mother, she will let you have your own way, and will not interfere with your happiness; her wool, or the piece of cloth which she is weaving, are at your disposal: I am sure that there is nothing to hinder you from touching her wooden spathe, or her comb, or any other of her spinning implements.

    Lysis; or Friendship

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