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[speyth] /speɪð/
noun, Botany
a bract or pair of bracts, often large and colored, subtending or enclosing a spadix or flower cluster.
Origin of spathe
1775-85; < Latin spatha < Greek spáthē blade, sword, stem; cf. spade2
Related forms
spathed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for spathe
  • From its base comes a modified leaf called a spathe.
  • The bases of the panicle branches are enclosed in an inflated, tawny spathe as long or longer than the spikelet.
  • The inflorescence is enclosed by a spathe of one or two scale leaves which subtend the first two flowers.
  • The solitary flowers are borne on stalks that elongate out of a tubular sheath, or spathe, that is borne in the upper leaf axils.
  • Unlike typical flowers with colorful petals and sepals, skunk cabbage produces a spiral, sculpted hood called a spathe.
  • The many white flowers are small and enclosed by a spathe.
  • Its inflorescence is a spadix enclosed by a spathe that resembles a trumpet.
  • The flowers are enveloped in a large leafy spathe, which ruptures when the flower opens.
British Dictionary definitions for spathe


a large bract, often coloured, that surrounds the inflorescence of aroid plants and palms
Derived Forms
spathaceous (spəˈθeɪʃəs) adjective
spathed, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from Latin spatha, from Greek spathē a blade
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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spathe in Science

A large, leaflike, often showy bract that encloses a flower cluster or spadix, as in the jack-in-the-pulpit or calla lily.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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