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Annual: A plant that completes its life cycle in a single growing season. Common annuals include corn, squash, beans, lettuce and tomatoes.

Biennial: A plant that completes its life cycle over two growing seasons, growing in the first year and reproducing in the second. Common biennials include parnips, beets and kale.

Chaff: The unwanted debris surrounding seed before it is clean, often dry parts of the plant (e.g., pods, flowers and bits of stem).

Crossing or Cross-pollination: The transfer of pollen from one plant to another.

F1: The generation coming after a controlled cross-pollination. All hybrid varieties are F1. Literally stands for “First filial” generation (from the Latin filius, or son).

Germination: Start of plant growth within a seed, typically confirmed by the emergence of a root.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMO): Organisms containing genes from unrelated species that were artificially inserted by genetic engineering (GE) techniques.

Heirloom: An open-pollinated variety that has been cultivated for generations (generally families) prior to 1945.

Hybrid (F1) Variety: A variety created by the crossing of two different inbred lines. Seeds saved from hybrids are not sterile but will not breed true.

Isolation: Separation of a variety of plant from another to prevent crossing and ensure genetic purity.

Open-Pollinated Variety: Any population of plant that breeds true when randomly mated within its own variety. Like begets like, though always with some minor variation.

Pollen: Dustlike, the part of a flower that contains the male gamete and fertilizes the ovary.

Roguing: To remove plants that do not fit the description of the variety or exhibit otherwise unwanted traits.

Self-Pollination: When pollen produced by a plant lands on (and may fertilize) the same plant.

Trait: A quality such as color, size, growth habit, pest resistance and flavor that is expressed by a plant.