Seed leaf within the embryo of a seed that provides energy and nutrients for the developing seedling. After the first true leaves have formed, they wither and fall off. Flowering plants whose embryos have a single cotyledon are grouped as monocots, or monocotyledonous plants; embryos with two cotyledons are grouped as dicots, or dicotyledonous plants. Unlike flowering plants, gymnosperms usually have several cotyledons rather than one or two.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cotyledon, visit Britannica.com.