Introduction New terms Part 1 (A-C) Part 2 (D-H) Part 3 (I-O) Part 4 (P-R) Part 5 (S-Z) Literature

Glossary of Pollen and Spore Terminology

Second and revised edition

by Peter Hoen


Please read this preface before going to the other parts of the GLOSSARY.
There are some important changes since the previous web-edition.

All the pages of the "GLOSSARY" are tested with Windows 3.11 and Netscape Navigator 4.05 ! I have noticed that in Microsoft Internet Explorer things don't always look like I wanted it to be. So for the best results get (or stick to) Netscape (the older versions are OK).

It has been a while since the latest edition (LPP Contribution Series No.1, 1994) of the Glossary of Pollen and Spore Terminology. The first three editions of the glossary where drafts, for discussion purpose only, and resulted in the final and official edition. And it was thought to be the last one, because not much could be improved, and all terms were included. But as time goes by it turned out that there still are terms available and the glossary can be improved.

With the arrival of the Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology on the Web, new possibilities arose for the glossary. This will make it more accessible, and gives the opportunity to let the users interact and make it more up to date as it already is. So from now on its everybody's glossary.

So what can be expected from this edition ?

First of all new terms, 35 in total, have been included (in the text marked with an asterisk). Hopefully still more to come. Also more examples have been added, mostly from fossil species (thanks to Grebe, 1971).
And than of coarse the improvements, as I may call them so. The drawings are in full color now, and it is possible to get a full screen picture. Some of the old drawings have been changed to make them more obvious, new ones have been added. I have tried to work according a color scheme, as can be seen in the drawing below (click on it for a full sized picture).


The second improvement was that other terms, used in a definition, are just one mouse-click away. So now it is easy to go to related terms, synonyms, etc. Unfortunately the glossary was getting to large to be handled by my computer as a single page, so I had to split the file. After several try-outs I decided to split the actual glossary into five parts. They are all more or less of the same size (the files as well as the number of sreens in the Web-browser). In total there are eight parts (introduction, new terms, parts 1-5, literature). There were some problems with the text-links but I think I have solved this problem.

If you still encounter any problems or have any comments (text or drawings), please let me now. I want to have it work perfectly.

This is now available:

The first edition is still available, FREE !, and will most likely become a collector's item. Just sent your request to:

Peter Hoen
Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology
Budapestlaan 4
NL-3584 CD Utrecht

You can also sent an e-mail to the pages manager, and you will have your hardcopy within a week. At the same adress you can find an ear and/or eye for your comments on the glossary or if you find terms that should be included.





1 Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Utrecht University, Budapestlaan 4, 3584 CD Utrecht, The Netherlands.
2 The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, SW7 5BD, London, United Kingdom.
3 Swedish Museum of Natural History, Palynological Laboratory, 10405 Stockholm 50, Sweden.
4 Laboratoire de Phytomorphologie E.P.H.E., Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, 16, Rue Buffon, 75005, Paris, France.



This Glossary of Pollen and Spore Terminology is presented to the international palynological community at the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the LPP Foundation. The publication of the Glossary concludes a project of the Working Group on Palynological Terminology, functioning under the auspices of the International Federation of Palynological Societies (IFPS). Under convenorship of Wim Punt, an international committee of pollen morphologists has made an up-to-date compilation of the wide diversity of technical terms so far used in the description of pollen and spores - both modern and fossil.

Wim Punt, Stephen Blackmore, Siwert Nilsson and Annick Le Thomas have to be congratulated with the results of their effort. Under the technical editorship of Peter Hoen, who was also responsible for most of the illustrations, the format of their Glossary has become fully in harmony with the twofold objective of the terminology project. Besides being a useful reference guide for palynologists who have to provide accurate descriptions of their material, the Glossary may also serve as a practical source of information for non-specialists who have to understand the meaning of an ever-increasing number of palynological terms.

Utrecht, December 1993
LPP Foundation,
Henk Visscher (Chairman)
Henk Brinkhuis (Director)



The terminology used in palynology has long been recognised as a deterrent to those who are not specialists in the subject. We hope that this glossary will make the subject more widely accessible at the same time as simplifying the application of palynological terms without losing any precision. We recognise that the Glossary is not perfect, and anticipate that revisions will be needed in the future.

This introduction sets out the objectives of the glossary, explains the format that has been followed in the text and the illustrations and, for those who may be interested, records the history of the project.



The objective of the project has been to provide a concise manual of terminology that can be used to clarify the communication of information concerning pollen grains and spores.

It is hoped that this will help to make palynological literature more accessible to non-specialists and to beginners in the field. In this way it should encourage an increasingly standardised approach to the description of pollen grains and spores.

We have tried to keep the glossary as simple as possible so that it can easily be used without much previous experience of palynology.



The entries are arranged alphabetically. The form that appears first (the singular, plural or adjectival form of the term) is generally the most commonly used form, although if all forms are widely used the singular is given first. A number of terms are mainly, or exclusively, used as adjectives.

Where the term is printed in bold typeface this indicates that the term is in current usage and is recommended for continued use. Where the head word is printed in normal text this indicates that an alternative term should be used in preference. The definitions and literature references provided for such terms are included because they may be helpful in interpreting the literature. In each case the preferable, synonymous term is indicated.

Cross references are also given to terms that indicate the opposite condition (antonyms) and to related terms (indicated by "see also"). A comment is provided where this may help in the application of a term, or to qualify the circumstances in which it is applied.

The literature reference given for each term is not necessarily the earliest publication in which the term was used but has been selected as a helpful source of further information.



Simple schematic illustrations have been provided where appropriate. These contain the minimum amount of information needed to explain the feature.

Some conventions have been used:




This glossary is the outcome of a initiative that began with the establishment, under the auspices of the International Commission for Palynology (now, the International Federation of Palynological Societies) of a Working Group on Palynological Terminology. With Jan Muller as Secretary, the Working Group communicated by means of circulars and questionnaires distributed among its members. Siwert Nilsson took on the role of Secretary of the Working Group between the 4th International Palynological Congress in Lucknow (1976) and the 5th IPC held in Cambridge in 1980. A report of the progress made by the Group was published by Nilsson and Muller (1978).

At the 5th IPC it was proposed that the Working Group should work towards the publication of a glossary that would summarise and explain palynological terminology. After the Cambridge IPC Stephen Blackmore became Secretary and questionnaires continued to be circulated, in an effort to establish the approaches to terminology that could be adopted in a glossary. However, as previous experience had shown, relatively few palynologists replied, calling into question the utility of the Group's methodology. During a lively debate at the 6th IPC in Calgary (1984), the Working Group was dissolved with the intention of seeking a more rapid method of progress.

A revitalised Working Group, with Wim Punt as Secretary, emerged at the 7th IPC in Brisbane (1988). Punt offered to convene a small committee that would start work on drafting a glossary. It was agreed that drafts of the glossary would be circulated as widely as possible so that the text could be revised as thoroughly as possible before publication (Report in Palynos 12,2, 1989). To achieve this, it was decided that draft manuscripts would be circulated to the representatives of each of the societies affiliated to the IFPS and to all members of the newly convened Working Group.

Wim Punt then acted as convenor of a committee consisting of Stephen Blackmore, Siwert Nilsson and Annick Le Thomas. The First Draft, with a red cover, was circulated in 1989 and stimulated considerable interest. A Second Draft, with an orange cover, followed in 1990 and again drew many comments and suggestions from the Working Group. These comments were incorporated in a Third Draft, not widely distributed, which also included the very detailed comments of palaeopalynologists Al Traverse and Jan Jansonius.

In April 1991, at the invitation of Knut Fægri the committee met in Bergen to revise the Third Draft and to consider the illustration and publication of the resulting glossary. The process of reconciling outstanding differences of opinion and revising the definitions, started in Bergen, was subsequently continued at meetings in Utrecht and London.

In August 1992 an illustrated version of the Third Draft was prepared by Peter Hoen and distributed at the 8th IPC in Aix-en-Provence in a pale yellow cover as the First Concept. Once again the project benefitted from the detailed comments of many palynologists. These have been included in this edition.

It will be clear, from the history of the project, that this has been a collaborative project, with contributions from many palynologists, from all branches of the discipline. Only through this long and rather elaborate procedure has it been possible to produce the present glossary, which we hope goes some way towards meeting the original objectives of the project.



This glossary has benefitted from the advice and expertise of many palynologists worldwide. The compilers are particularly grateful to K. Fægri, J. Jansonius and A. Traverse for their especially significant contributions. Among the many other palynologists who have actively participated in the project we would like to thank O.A. Abbink, C. Caratini, S. Chanda, M.J. Diéz, I.K. Ferguson, I. Fernandez, C.A. Furness, M.M. Harley, A. Hemsley, P.P. Hoen, M. van Houte, M. Keith-Lucas, M.V. Oshurkova, B. Owens, M.I. Rodríguez-García, H. Straka, R.W.J.M. Van der Ham, G.A. Van Uffelen, M. Vavrdova, B.S. Venkatachala.

We are grateful to artists of the Botanical Institute, Norway, for their initial drawings to elucidate the terms. The illustrations are partly those of Fægri and Iversens Textbook, ed. IV (1989), and partly prepared by Dorothy Büchner. We specially thank Peter Hoen, Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands, for his additional drawings and for having skilfully computerized all the illustrations.

The Glossary is dedicated to J. Muller and G. Thanikaimoni, who were both very active in promoting international efforts to make progress with palynological terminology.



The following terms are new in this glossary (in the text marked with *). There is a special page with only the new terms. There is also a special version available from the download page. In the downlaod version there are no banners and so. So when loaded in a browser there are only the terms and the drawings. The full version with banners is included in the downloadable graphics version.


From the following terms the drawings are changed 1) or added 2).


Updated 16 April 1999
Design and maintenance by Peter Hoen


[New terms] [A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [Y] [Z] [Literature consulted]

Introduction New terms Part 1 (A-C) Part 2 (D-H) Part 3 (I-O) Part 4 (P-R) Part 5 (S-Z) Literature

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