Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: -phyll or -phyl

In plants, photosynthesis occurs mainly within the leaves.

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Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: -phyll or -phyl


The suffix (-phyll) refers to leaves or leaf structures. It is derived from the Greek phyllon for leaf.


Aphyllous (a - phyll - ous) - a botanical term that refers to plants that don't have any leaves. Photosynthesis in these type of plants occurs in the stems and/or branches of the plant.

Bacteriochlorophyll (bacterio - chloro - phyll) - pigments found in photosynthetic bacteria that absorb light energy used for photosynthesis.These pigments are related to the chlorophylls found in plants.

Cataphyll (cata - phyll) - an underdeveloped leaf or leaf in its early developmental stage. Examples include a bud scale or seed leaf.

Chlorophyll (chloro - phyll) - green pigments found in plant chloroplasts that absorb light energy used for photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is also found in cyanobacteria as well as in algae. Due to its green coloration, chlorophyll tends to absorb blue and red colors in the spectrum.

Chlorophyllous (chloro - phyll - ous) - of or relating to chlorophyll or containing chlorophyll.

Cladophyll (clado - phyll) - a flattened stem of a plant that resembles and functions as a leaf. These structures are also known as cladodes. Examples include species of cactus.

Diphyllous (di - phyll - ous) - refers to plants possessing two leaves or sepals.

Endophyllous (endo - phyll - ous) - refers to being wrapped within a leaf or sheath.

Epiphyllous (epi - phyll - ous) - refers to a plant that grows on or is attached to the leaf of another plant.

Heterophyllous (hetero - phyll - ous) - referring to having different types of leaves on a single plant. The arrowhead plant is one such example.

Hypsophyll (hypso - phyll) - any of the parts of a flower that are derived from a leaf, such as sepals and petals.

Megaphyll (mega - phyll) - a type of leaf with many large branched veins, such as those found in gymnosperms and angiosperms.

Megasporophyll (mega - sporo - phyll) - akin to the carpel of a flowering plant. Megasporophyll is a botanical term that refers to a leaf where megaspore formation occurs.

Mesophyll (meso - phyll) - middle tissue layer of a leaf that contains chlorophyll and is involved in photosynthesis.

Microphyll (micro - phyll) - a type of leaf with a single vein that does not branch out into other veins. These small leaves are found in horsetails and club mosses.

Microsporophyll (micro - sporo - phyll) - akin to the stamen of a flowering plant. Microsporophyll is a botanical term that refers to a leaf where microspore formation occurs.

Phyllode (phyll - ode) - a compressed or flattened leafstalk that is functionally equivalent to a leaf.

Phyllopod (phyll - opod) - refers to a crustacean whose appendages look like leaves.

Phyllotaxy (phyll - otaxy) - how leaves are arranged and ordered on a stem.

Phylloxera (phyll - oxera) - refers to an insect that eats the roots of grapevines that can decimate a grape crop.

Podophyllin (podo - phyll - in) - a resin that is obtained from the mandrake plant. It is used as a caustic in medicine.

Prophyll (pro - phyll) - a plant structure that resembles a leaf. It can also refer to a rudimentary leaf.

Pyrophyllite (pyro - phyll - ite) - a green or silver colored aluminum silicate found in natural soft masses or in rocks.

Sporophyll (sporo - phyll ) - a leaf or leaf-like structure that bears plant spores. Sporophylls can be either microphylls or megaphylls.

Xanthophyll (xantho - phyll) - any of a class of yellow pigments found in plant leaves. An example is zeaxanthin. This class of pigment is typically visible in tree leaves in the fall.

-phyll or -phyl Word Dissection

Just as the student of biology might perform a 'virtual' dissection on an animal like a frog, being able to use prefixes and suffixes to 'dissect' unknown biological terms is invaluable. You shouldn't have any trouble with 'dissecting' additional related words like cataphylls or mesophyllous.

Additional Biology Terms

For more information on understanding complex biology terms, see:

Biology Word Dissections


  • Reece, Jane B., and Neil A. Campbell. Campbell Biology. Benjamin Cummings, 2011.
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Your Citation
Bailey, Regina. "Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: -phyll or -phyl." ThoughtCo, Sep. 3, 2021, Bailey, Regina. (2021, September 3). Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: -phyll or -phyl. Retrieved from Bailey, Regina. "Biology Prefixes and Suffixes: -phyll or -phyl." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 7, 2023).