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thickened, fleshy plant bud, usually formed under the surface of the soil, which carries the plant over from one blooming season to another. It may have many fleshy layers (as in the onion and hyacinth) or thin dry scales (as in some lilies)—both of which are highly modified leaves. Many popular outdoor and house plants, such as the tulip and the narcissus, are grown from bulbs, often out of their usual flowering season by forcing (i.e., by exposing them to a cold treatment). Not true bulbs, but often so called, are the cormcorm,
short, thickened underground stem, usually covered with papery leaves. A corm grows vertically, producing buds at the upper nodes and roots from the lower surface. Corms serve as organs of food storage and in some plants (e.g.
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 of the crocus and the gladiolus, the tubertuber,
enlarged tip of a rhizome (underground stem) that stores food. Although much modified in structure, the tuber contains all the usual stem parts—bark, wood, pith, nodes, and internodes.
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 of the dahlia and the potato, and the rhizomerhizome
or rootstock,
fleshy, creeping underground stem by means of which certain plants propagate themselves. Buds that form at the joints produce new shoots.
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 of certain irises. All such organs are specialized subterranean stems serving for food and water storage and asexual reproduction.


See J. E. Bryan, Bulbs (1989).



a modified, usually subterranean shoot with a greatly shortened stem and fleshy scalelike leaves.

Bulbs store water and nutritive substances (primarily sugars); they are also a means of vegetative renewal and reproduction. In some plant species, bulblets develop in the inflorescences (onions and meadow grasses) or in the leaf axils of aboveground shoots (lilies and toothworts). Bulbs can function as storage organs for approximately one year (annual bulbs of tulips, onions, and fritillary) or longer (perennial bulbs of narcissus, snowdrop, and hyacinth). After their nutrients have been used, dry scales form protective outer coverings. Scaly bulbs have narrow scales that touch the bulb only at their bases (lilies); tunicated bulbs have broad enwrapping scales (onions).

According to the manner of growth, two types of bulbs are distinguished. Monopodial, or intermediate, bulbs renew themselves at the expense of the terminal bud of the bulb stem (snow-drop, narcissus, and belladonna lily). In plants with sympodial, or determinate, bulbs, the inflorescence and aboveground parts develop from the terminal bud, but the bulb regenerates at the expense of the bud located in the axil of a scale (tulips, onions, and hyacinths). In sympodial bulbs the mother bulb is replaced annually by daughter bulbs. If not one but two or more buds are active, the bulb reproduces vegetatively. In garlic plants several cloves form in the axils of the bulb scales and are arranged in a row, thus constituting complex bulbs.



A short, subterranean stem with many overlapping fleshy leaf bases or scales, such as in the onion and tulip.


In lighting, see lamp bulb, light bulb.


1. a rounded organ of vegetative reproduction in plants such as the tulip and onion: a flattened stem bearing a central shoot surrounded by fleshy nutritive inner leaves and thin brown outer leaves
2. a plant, such as a hyacinth or daffodil, that grows from a bulb
3. See light bulb
4. a rounded part of an instrument such as a syringe or thermometer
5. Anatomy a rounded expansion of a cylindrical organ or part, such as the medulla oblongata
6. Nautical a bulbous protuberance at the forefoot of a ship to reduce turbulence
References in periodicals archive ?
Specially prepared hyacinth bulbs will need at least eight weeks either plunged or kept in the dark after you have planted them in order to develop a proper root system.
Most modern energy saving bulbs take little more than a few seconds to warm up to full brightness.
If you would like to order any of the additional bulbs, complete the coupon, enclosing a cheque for the full amount, plus pounds 4.
With hyacinths set to flower in 8-10 weeks, it's a good time to start on Christmas bulbs.
These light bulbs will fit any bayonet cap or Edison screw light fitting.
If given the right conditions, you can have colorful blooms indoors well into spring, when bulbs typically flower outdoors.
They were able to plant the bulbs at Thanksgiving and then see them in full bloom at Christmas
Outdoors, bulbs look great if planted in beds and borders but are perhaps most dramatic if massed in informal drifts in a lawn, either drifts of separate bulb types or a whole load of cultivars mixed together.
The new compact fluorescent bulbs are now operating throughout PCV/ST are expected to reduce energy consumption at the complex by more than 5% each year.
LED developers have to increase lumen output in order to have a shot at capturing any significant portion of the forward lighting market currently dominated by cheaper halogen bulbs, but cost-effective cooling currently remains out of reach.
Set A: Botanical Daffodils - 10 bulbs each of Tete a tete, Canaliculatus, Minnow and Quail (40 bulbs for just pounds 7.
Calkins: Metal halide bulbs are probably the hottest new technology in lighting for older adults.