2. Consisting of, or comprising, plants; as, the vegetable kingdom. Vegetable alkali, a white woolly plant (Raoulia eximia) of new Zealand, which grows in the form of large fleecy cushions on the mountains. Vegetable silk, a cottonlike, fibrous material obtained from the coating of the seeds of a Brazilian tree (Chorisia speciosa). It us used for various purposes, as for stuffing, and the like, but is incapable of being spun on account of a want of cohesion among the fibres. Vegetable sponge. See 1st loof. Vegetable sulphur, the fine highly inflammable spores of the club moss (lycopodium clavatum); witch. Vegetable tallow, a substance resembling tallow, obtained from various plants; as, Chinese vegetable tallow, obtained from the seeds of the tallow tree. Indian vegetable tallow is a name sometimes given to piney tallow. Vegetable wax, a waxy excretion on the leaves or fruits of certain plants, as the bayberry. Vegetable kingdom, that primary division of living things which includes all plants. The classes of the vegetable kingdom have been grouped differently by various botanists. The following is one of the best of the many arrangements of the principal subdivisions. I. Phaenogamia (called also phanerogamia).
plants having distinct flowers and true seeds. 1. Dicotyledons (called also exogens). Seeds with two or more cotyledons. Stems with the pith, woody fibre, and bark concentrically arranged. Divided into two subclasses: angiosperms, having the woody fibre interspersed with dotted or annular ducts, and the seed contained in a true ovary; gymnosperms, having few or no ducts in the woody fibre, and the seeds naked. 2. Monocotyledons (called also endogens). Seeds with single cotyledon. Stems with slender bundles of woody fibre not concentrically arranged, and with no true bark. II. Cryptogamia.
plants without true flowers, and reproduced by minute spores of various kinds, or by simple cell division. 1. Acrogens. Plants usually with distinct stems and leaves, existing in two alternate conditions, one of which is nonsexual and sporophoric, the other sexual and oophoric. Divided into vascular acrogens, or pteridophyta, having the sporophoric plant conspicuous and consisting partly of vascular tissue, as in ferns, lycopods, and Equiseta, and cellular acrogens, or Bryophyta, having the sexual plant most conspicuous, but destitute of vascular tissue, as in mosses and scale mosses. 2. Thallogens. Plants without distinct stem and leaves, consisting of a simple or branched mass of cellular tissue, or educed to a single cell. Reproduction effected variously. Divided into algae, which contain chlorophyll or its equivalent, and which live upon air and water, and fungi, which contain no chlorophyll, and live on organic matter. (lichens are now believed to be fungi parasitic on included algae.
many botanists divide the phaenogamia primarily into gymnosperms and angiosperms, and the latter into dicotyledons and monocotyledons. Others consider pteridophyta and Bryophyta to be separate classes. Thallogens are variously divided by different writers, and the places for diatoms, slime molds, and stoneworts are altogether uncertain. For definitions, see these names in the vocabulary.
Origin: f. Vegetable growing, capable of growing, formerly also, as a noun, a vegetable, from L. Vegetabilis enlivening, from vegetare to enliven, invigorate, quicken, vegetus enlivened, vigorous, active, vegere to quicken, arouse, to be lively, akin to vigere to be lively, to thrive, vigil watchful, awake, and probably to E. Wake, v. See vigil, wake.
vegetables and fruits are sometimes loosely distinguished by the usual need of cooking the former for the use of man, while the latter may be eaten raw; but the distinction often fails, as in the case of quinces, barberries, and other fruits, and lettuce, celery, and other vegetables. Tomatoes if cooked are vegetables, if eaten raw are fruits.