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by Liz Clift

A few weeks ago, someone asked me to play a game of Scrabble, which is one of my favorite games. We settled down to play and I knew I had a bunch of unusual ecology words up my sleeve—if only the right letters would appear on my rack and on the board.

Ecology, like other specialized fields, has a lot of words you probably don’t hear often (or ever) if you’re not doing this work. The following ten words are just a sampling of some of words pertaining to ecology and ecological design that you might throw into your next game (and which are a length you could, feasibly, lay or connect onto the board without extraordinarily good fortune). Points are based on the Hasbro website’s Scrabble dictionary, which assumes only the face value of tiles.

Chitin (11 points) – the main component of insect shells

Also: chitins

Chiton (11 points) – a type of ocean mollusk with eight plates, that outwardly resemble roly-polies (they aren’t related); a tunic worn in ancient Greece

Also: chitons

Ligule (7 points) – a strap-shaped plant part

Also: ligules

Limpet (10 points) – a type of mollusk

Petiole (9 points) – the stalk of a leaf

Also: petioles

Protonema (13 points) – the cells that form in the earliest phase of life for mosses and liverworts

Senesce (9 points) – to deteriorate or wither

Also: senesces and senesced

Setae (5 points) – a coarse, stiff hair, like that on an insect

Also: seta

Spikelet (14 points) – a type of flower cluster

Also: spikelets

Stipule (9 points) – an appendage at the base of a leaf in certain plants

Also: stipules


Study up on these 10 words—we’ll have 10 more coming at you soon!