Indeterminate growth

Last updated
This inflorescence of the terrestrial orchid Spathoglottis plicata shows indeterminate growth; note that the opening of flowers and production of fruits is proceeding upwards on the shoot. Spathoglottis flwrs reduced.jpg
This inflorescence of the terrestrial orchid Spathoglottis plicata shows indeterminate growth; note that the opening of flowers and production of fruits is proceeding upwards on the shoot.
Cymose determinate inflorescences
a. Myosotis
b. Cerastium (dichasium)
c. Sedum (scorpioid cyme)
d. Scirpus lacustris (compound cyme)
e. Dianthus (fascicle)
f. Chenopodium album (sessile flowers in cymes)
g. Salvia officinalis (cymule) Cymose determinate inflorescences.jpg
Cymose determinate inflorescences
a. Myosotis
b. Cerastium (dichasium)
c. Sedum (scorpioid cyme)
d. Scirpus lacustris (compound cyme)
e. Dianthus (fascicle)
f. Chenopodium album (sessile flowers in cymes)
g. Salvia officinalis (cymule)

In biology and botany, indeterminate growth is growth that is not terminated in contrast to determinate growth that stops once a genetically pre-determined structure has completely formed. Thus, a plant that grows and produces flowers and fruit until killed by frost or some other external factor is called indeterminate. For example, the term is applied to tomato varieties that grow in a rather gangly fashion, producing fruit throughout the growing season, and in contrast to a determinate tomato plant, which grows in a more bushy shape and is most productive for a single, larger harvest, then either tapers off with minimal new growth or fruit, or dies.

Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development and evolution. Despite the complexity of the science, there are certain unifying concepts that consolidate it into a single, coherent field. Biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the creation and extinction of species. Living organisms are open systems that survive by transforming energy and decreasing their local entropy to maintain a stable and vital condition defined as homeostasis.

Botany science of plant life

Botany, also called plant science(s), plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancient Greek word βοτάνη (botanē) meaning "pasture", "grass", or "fodder"; βοτάνη is in turn derived from βόσκειν (boskein), "to feed" or "to graze". Traditionally, botany has also included the study of fungi and algae by mycologists and phycologists respectively, with the study of these three groups of organisms remaining within the sphere of interest of the International Botanical Congress. Nowadays, botanists study approximately 410,000 species of land plants of which some 391,000 species are vascular plants, and approximately 20,000 are bryophytes.

Flower structure found in some plants (division Magnoliophyta / angiosperms) to support reproduction

A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants. The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs. Flowers may facilitate outcrossing or allow selfing. Some flowers produce diaspores without fertilization (parthenocarpy). Flowers contain sporangia and are the site where gametophytes develop. Many flowers have evolved to be attractive to animals, so as to cause them to be vectors for the transfer of pollen. After fertilization, the ovary of the flower develops into fruit containing seeds.



In reference to an inflorescence (a shoot specialised for bearing flowers, and bearing no leaves other than bracts), an indeterminate type (such as a raceme) is one in which the first flowers to develop and open are from the buds at the base, followed progressively by buds nearer to the growing tip. The growth of the shoot is not impeded by the opening of the early flowers or development of fruits and its appearance is of growing, producing, and maturing flowers and fruit indefinitely. In practice the continued growth of the terminal end necessarily peters out sooner or later, though without producing any definite terminal flower, and in some species it may stop growing before any of the buds have opened.

Inflorescence term used in botany

An inflorescence is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches. Morphologically, it is the modified part of the shoot of seed plants where flowers are formed. The modifications can involve the length and the nature of the internodes and the phyllotaxis, as well as variations in the proportions, compressions, swellings, adnations, connations and reduction of main and secondary axes. Inflorescence can also be defined as the reproductive portion of a plant that bears a cluster of flowers in a specific pattern.


In botany, a bract is a modified or specialized leaf, especially one associated with a reproductive structure such as a flower, inflorescence axis or cone scale. Bracts are often different from foliage leaves. They may be smaller, larger, or of a different color, shape, or texture. Typically, they also look different from the parts of the flower, such as the petals or sepals. The state of having bracts is referred to as bracteate or bracteolate, and conversely the state of lacking them is referred to as ebracteate and ebracteolate, without bracts.

A raceme is an unbranched, indeterminate type of inflorescence bearing pedicellate flowers along its axis. In botany, an axis means a shoot, in this case one bearing the flowers. In indeterminate inflorescence-like racemes, the oldest flowers are borne towards the base and new flowers are produced as the shoot grows, with no predetermined growth limit. A plant that flowers on a showy raceme may have this reflected in its scientific name, e.g. Cimicifuga racemosa. A compound raceme, also called a panicle, has a branching main axis. Examples of racemes occur on mustard and radish plants.

Not all plants produce indeterminate inflorescences however; some produce a definite terminal flower that terminates the development of new buds towards the tip of that inflorescence. In most species that produce a 'determinate inflorescence in this way, all of the flower buds are formed before the first ones begin to open, and all open more or less at the same time. In some species with determinate inflorescences however, the terminal flower blooms first, which stops the elongation of the main axis, but side buds develop lower down. One type of example is Dianthus another type is exemplified by Allium and yet others by Daucus.

<i>Dianthus</i> genus of plants

Dianthus is a genus of about 300 species of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, native mainly to Europe and Asia, with a few species extending south to north Africa, and one species in arctic North America. Common names include carnation, pink and sweet william.

<i>Allium</i> genus of plants

Allium is a genus of monocotyledonous flowering plants that includes hundreds of species, including the cultivated onion, garlic, scallion, shallot, leek, and chives. The generic name Allium is the Latin word for garlic, and the type species for the genus is Allium sativum which means "cultivated garlic".

<i>Daucus</i> genus of plants

Daucus is a worldwide genus of herbaceous plants of the family Apiaceae of which the best-known species is the cultivated carrot. Daucus has about 25 species.


In zoology, indeterminate growth refers to the condition where animals grow rapidly when young, and continue to grow after reaching adulthood although at a slower pace. [1] It is common in fish, amphibians, reptiles, and many molluscs. [2] The term also refers to the pattern of hair growth sometimes seen in humans and a few domestic breeds, where hair continues to grow in length until it is cut.


Some mushrooms – notably Cantharellus californicus  – also exhibit indeterminate growth. [3]

<i>Cantharellus californicus</i> species of fungus

Cantharellus californicus, sometimes called the mud puppy or oak chanterelle, is a fungus native to California, United States. It is a member of the genus Cantharellus along with other popular edible chanterelles. It is generally similar in appearance to C. cibarius and C. formosus except for its large size at maturity; individual specimens larger than 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) are reported, making it the largest known species of chanterelle. Their unusual size is due in part to their capacity for indeterminate growth, making Cantharellus californicus specimens actively grow for far longer than most other mushrooms.

See also

Related Research Articles

Bud plant organ

In botany, a bud is an undeveloped or embryonic shoot and normally occurs in the axil of a leaf or at the tip of a stem. Once formed, a bud may remain for some time in a dormant condition, or it may form a shoot immediately. Buds may be specialized to develop flowers or short shoots, or may have the potential for general shoot development. The term bud is also used in zoology, where it refers to an outgrowth from the body which can develop into a new individual.

Fruit tree pruning

Fruit tree pruning is the cutting and removing of selected parts of a fruit tree. It spans a number of horticultural techniques. Pruning often means cutting branches back, sometimes removing smaller limbs entirely. It may also mean removal of young shoots, buds, and leaves.

Panicle type of inflorescence

A panicle is a much-branched inflorescence. Some authors distinguish it from a compound spike, by requiring that the flowers be pedicellate. The branches of a panicle are often racemes. A panicle may have determinate or indeterminate growth.

Root nodule root nodule

Root nodules are found on the roots of plants, primarily legumes, that form a symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Under nitrogen-limiting conditions, capable plants form a symbiotic relationship with a host-specific strain of bacteria known as rhizobia. This process has evolved multiple times within the legumes, as well as in other species found within the Rosid clade. Legume crops include beans, peas, and soybeans.

<i>Platystemon</i> genus of plants

Platystemon is a monotypic genus of flowering plants in the poppy family containing the single species Platystemon californicus, which is known by the common name creamcups. It is native to Oregon, California, Arizona, Utah and Baja California, and is found in open grasslands and sandy soils below 6,000 feet (1,800 m) elevation.

The BBCH-scale identifies the phenological development stages of solaneous fruit. It is a plant species specific version of the BBCH-scale.

Tomato Edible berry of the tomato plant, originating in South America

The tomato is the edible, often red, berry of the plant Solanum lycopersicum, commonly known as a tomato plant. The species originated in western South America. The Nahuatl word tomatl gave rise to the Spanish word tomate, from which the English word tomato derived. Its use as a cultivated food may have originated with the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The Spanish encountered the tomato from their contact with the Aztec during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and brought it to Europe. From there, the tomato was introduced to other parts of the European-colonized world during the 16th century.

Early Girl

The Early Girl tomato is a medium-sized globe-type F1 hybrid popular with home gardeners because of its early ripening fruit. Early Girl is a cultivar of tomato with indeterminate growth, which means it produces flowers and fruit until it is killed by frost or another external factor. It grows tall, therefore it needs support as the plant grows. Fruit maturity ranges from 50 to 62 days after transplanting, depending on the source, which appeals to growers in climates with shorter growing seasons. Early Girl can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 °F (4 °C) and is well-suited to hot, dry climates. Early girl is reliable and prolific.

<i>Ixerba</i> species of plant

Ixerba brexioides, the sole species in the genus Ixerba, is a bushy tree with thick, narrow, serrated, dark green leaves and panicles of white flowers with a green hart. The fruit is a green capsule that splits open to reveal the black seeds partly covered with a fleshy scarlet aril against the white inside of the fruit. Ixerba is an endemic of the northern half of the North Island of New Zealand. Common names used in New Zealand are tawari for the tree and whakou when in flower. It is assigned to the family Strasburgeriaceae.

This page provides a glossary of plant morphology. Botanists and other biologists who study plant morphology use a number of different terms to classify and identify plant organs and parts that can be observed using no more than a handheld magnifying lens. This page provides help in understanding the numerous other pages describing plants by their various taxa. The accompanying page—Plant morphology—provides an overview of the science of the external form of plants. There is also an alphabetical list: Glossary of botanical terms. In contrast, this page deals with botanical terms in a systematic manner, with some illustrations, and organized by plant anatomy and function in plant physiology.

Tomato and potato cultivars are commonly classified as determinate or indeterminate according to the amount of time that they produce new leaves and flowers. Varieties that produce few leaves and flowers over a shorter period are classed as determinate and those that produce new leaves and flowers for longer are classed as indeterminate.

Plants produce new tissues and structures throughout their life from meristems located at the tips of organs, or between mature tissues. Thus, a living plant always has embryonic tissues. By contrast, an animal embryo will very early produce all of the body parts that it will ever have in its life. When the animal is born, it has all its body parts and from that point will only grow larger and more mature.

<i>Helianthemum greenei</i> species of plant

Helianthemum greenei is a rare species of flowering plant in the rock-rose family known by the common name island rush-rose. It is endemic to the Channel Islands of California, where it grows in the chaparral of the rocky seaside slopes. It is present on three of the eight islands, where it has historically been threatened by feral herbivores such as the Santa Cruz sheep and is making a gradual recovery. It is a federally listed threatened species.

<i>Eulobus californicus</i> species of plant

Eulobus californicus, is a species of flowering plant in the evening primrose family known by the common name California suncup. It is native to California, Arizona, and adjacent northwestern Mexico, where it grows in scrub, chaparral, and desert plant communities.

This glossary of botanical terms is a list of terms relevant to botany and plants in general. Terms of plant morphology are included here as well as at the related Glossary of plant morphology and Glossary of leaf morphology. See also List of Latin and Greek words commonly used in systematic names. You can help by adding illustrations that assist an understanding of the terms.

Plant stem One of two main structural axes of a vascular plant (together with the root), that supports leaves, flowers and fruits, transports fluids between the roots and the shoots in the xylem and phloem, stores nutrients and produces new living tissue

A stem is one of two main structural axes of a vascular plant, the other being the root. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes:

<i>Streptanthella</i> species of plant

Streptanthella is a monotypic genus of flowering plants in the mustard family containing the single species Streptanthella longirostris, which is known by the common name longbeak streptanthella, or simply streptanthella. It is native to western North America, where it occurs throughout the western United States and the northwestern states of Mexico. It grows in many types of habitat, including deserts, sagebrush, foothill woodlands, sandy flats, chaparral, and scrubby canyons. It is an annual herb producing a slender, erect, multibranched stem up to half a meter tall. The lower leaves are lance-shaped with a toothed or smooth edge and leaves higher on the plant are narrower, linear in shape, and less often toothed. The top of the stem is occupied by a long inflorescence which is an open raceme of many flowers. The top of the inflorescence bears the newest buds which are often purple in color. More mature flowers stud the stem at intervals below, each on a short pedicel. Flowers measure under a centimeter long. Each flower is enclosed in four thick sepals. At the tip are the spoon-shaped petals which are white to yellow with purple veining. The fruit is a long, dangling silique up to 7 centimeters in length containing flat, winged seeds.


  1. West GB, Brown JH, Enquist BJ (October 2001). "A general model for ontogenetic growth". Nature. 413 (6856): 628–31. doi:10.1038/35098076. PMID   11675785.
  2. Jan Kozłowski (1996), "Optimal allocation of resources explains interspecific life-history patterns in animals with indeterminate growth", Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B, 263: 559–566, doi:10.1098/rspb.1996.0084
  3. Viess, Debbie, Cantharellus californicus: California's Giant, Oak-Loving Golden Chanterelle, Bay Area Mycological Society, retrieved 8 May 2011