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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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A short, subterranean stem with many overlapping fleshy leaf bases or scales, such as in the onion and tulip.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


In lighting, see lamp bulb, light bulb.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Bulblet induction mediumI: MS minerals and vitamins,40 g/l sucrose, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0 and 8.0 mg/l BAP, Zeatin and 2-iP, 0.1 mg/l NAA, 7 g/l agar
1d) Guozheng and Cheng Chang (2005) studied the effect of TDZ on bulblet formation and shoot formation of Amaryllis and found that higher concentrations of TDZ promoted shoot as well bulblet formation but reduced root foramtion.
According to the results of this investigation, if the more bulblets production is desired, it is suggested that the bulbs should be planted horizontally and flowering stems (as a sink) should be cut at the earlier stages of growth and if high quality flowering stems are desired, the bulbs should be planted vertically.
In determining the survival rate and root formation degree of bulblets by colchicine treatment, it was found that the higher the colchicine concentration and the longer the soaking time were, the more the survival rate and root formation degree decreased.
Its bulblets actually can send out shoots before touching the ground, so that a second and sometimes even a third tier of bulblets are produced.
Data for frequency of bulblet regeneration, mean number of bulblets per explant; shoot length and frequency of rooting were recorded and analyzed using one way ANOVA with the help of statistical software SPSS 15.00 for windows.
(If your garden has gophers--they find lily bulbs delectable--plant each bulblet in a 6-inch-square basket fashioned from 1/2-inch hardware cloth.) Cover with a 2-inch organic mulch.
[21.] Shin KS, Chakrabarty D and KY Paek Sprouting rate, change of carbohydrate contents and related enzymes during cold treatment of lily bulblets regenerated in vitro.
Several of the alternative onions listed on Page 69 can be handled as perpetual crops by digging and dividing them, or by replanting bulbs or bulblets.
The cultivar Amarante was selected due to its higher number of bulblets and a higher mass per bulb, resulting in higher production of the final product.
As they grow, the central bulb will give off little bulblets which will grow into shallotsized bulbs.
When planted too shallowly, the bulbs disintegrate into masses of tiny bulblets, incapable of producing flowers.