Friday, May 1, 2015

Integument

"Integument", as a word, derives from the Latin "integumentum", which literally means "a covering". In transferred or figurative senses, it could mean a cloak or a disguise. In English "integument" is a fairly modern word, its origin having been traced back to the early seventeenth century. It can mean a material or layer with which anything is enclosed, clothed, or covered in the sense of "clad" or "coated", as with a skin or husk.

As a general term in biology the word "integument" refers most commonly to the natural covering of an organism or an organ, such as its skin, husk, shell, or rind.

In botany the senses are similar to those in zoology, referring to the covering of an organ, but when the context indicates nothing to the contrary, the word commonly refers to an envelope of one or more cell layers covering the ovule, leaving only a pore, the micropyle, through which the pollen tube can enter. It also can refer to the testa, or seed coat.

The integument of an organ in zoology typically would comprise membranes of connective tissue such as those around a kidney or liver. In referring to the integument of an animal, the usual sense is its skin and its derivatives: the integumentary system, where "integumentary" is a simile for "cutaneous".

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