Our ‘A’ to ‘Z’ of Gardening Terms

Terms that begin with “M”

macronutrientCollectively, the primary nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and secondary nutrients (sulfur, calcium, and magnesium) required for plant growth.
macroporeA large soil pore or opening. Macropores include earthworm and root channels and control a soil’s permeability and aeration.
mandibleThe first pair of jaws on insects. These are stout and tooth-like in chewing insects, needle- or sword-shaped in sucking insects, and the lateral (left and right) upper jaws of biting insects.
maturityRipeness, usually the state of development that results in maximum quality.
meiosisA cell division process where the chromosome number is reduced by half.
meristemPlant tissue in the process of formation; vegetative cells in a state of active division and growth, e.g., those at the apex of growing stems and roots.
mesophyllA leaf’s inner tissue, located between the upper and lower epidermis, where raw materials (carbon dioxide and water vapor) are held for use in photosynthesis.
metabolismThe sum of the biochemical processes of a living cell.
metamorphosisThe process by which an insect develops. See complete metamorphosis, simple metamorphosis.
microclimateThe climate of a small area within a larger climate area. For example, a backyard can have a different microclimate from that of the surrounding neighborhood, or there may be different microclimates within a single backyard. Microclimates can significantly influence plant growth and should be considered in plant selection and care.
microfibrilA fine thread of cellulose in a cell wall.
micronutrientA nutrient used by plants in small amounts, less than 1 part per million. Micronutrients include boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc. Also called trace elements.
microporeA fine soil pore, typically a fraction of a millimeter in diameter. Micropores are responsible for a soil’s ability to hold air and water.
middle lamellaA layer of pectin binding two adjacent cell walls.
mitochondriaCellular bodies in which cellular respiration occurs.
mitosisA cellular division process in which the chromosomes are duplicated.
modified central leaderA system of pruning used primarily on fruit trees. The tree’s central leader is encouraged for the first few years, then suppressed. This system allows for well-placed scaffolds and strong crotches but keeps the tree’s crown relatively close to the ground for easy harvesting. Also called modified leader.
modified leaderSee modified central leader (above).
moleculeA chemically bonded group of atoms.
moltThe shedding of an insect’s outer covering during growth. The form assumed between molts is called an instar.
monocotA plant having one cotyledon (seed leaf). Also called monocotyledon.
monocotyledonSee monocot (above).
monoeciousA species having both male and female flowers on the same plant. Pecans, avocados, and squash are examples on monecious plants. See dioecious.
morphologyThe study of the form of plants or plant parts.
mosaicNonuniform foliage coloration with more or less distinct intermingling of normal and abnormal colored patches.
mottleAn irregular pattern of light and dark areas.
mulchAny material placed on the soil surface to conserve soil moisture, moderate soil temperature, and/or control weeds. Wood chips, bark, and shredded leaves are examples; inorganic materials such as rocks, plastics, or newspapers are also used.
multiple fruitA cluster of mature ovaries from several flowers on a single stem.
mutationA genetic change within an organism or its parts that changes its characteristics. Also called a bud sport or sport.
myceliaMasses of fungal threads (hyphae) that make up the vegetative body of the fungus.
mycologyThe study of fungi.
mycoplasmaSee phytoplasma.
mycorrhizaeBeneficial fungi that infect plant roots and increase their ability to take up nutrients from the soil.