Skip to main content
Select Source:

humus

humus (hyōō´məs), organic matter that has decayed to a relatively stable, amorphous state. It is an important biological constituent of fertile soil. Humus is formed by the decomposing action of soil microorganisms (e.g., bacteria and fungi), which break down animal and vegetable material into elements that can be used by growing plants. Technically, humus, as the end result of this process, is less valuable for plant growth than are the products formed during active decomposition (see fertilizer). Because of its low specific weight and high surface area, humus has a profound effect upon the physical properties of mineral soils with regard to improved soil structure, water intake and reservoir capacity, ability to resist erosion, and the ability to hold chemical elements in a form readily accessible to plants.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/humus

"humus." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/humus

humus

humus The dark-coloured amorphous colloidal material that constitutes the organic component of soil. It is formed by the decomposition of plant and animal remains and excrement (see litter) and has a complex and variable chemical composition. Being a colloid, it can hold water and therefore improves the water-retaining properties of soil; it also enhances soil fertility and workability. Acidic humus (mor) is found in regions of coniferous forest, where the decay is brought about mainly by fungi. Alkaline humus (mull) is typically found in grassland and deciduous forest: it supports an abundance of microorganisms and small animals (e.g. earthworms).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-3

"humus." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-3

humus

humus
1. Decomposed organic matter of soils that are aerobic for part of the year: it is dark brown and amorphous, having lost all trace of the structure and composition of the vegetable and animal matter from which it was derived.

2. A term used by some horticulturists to describe any kind of organic matter in the soil.

3. A surface organic soil horizon that may be divided into types, e.g. mor (acid and layered) or mull (alkaline and decomposed). It is the ‘histic epipedon’ of the USDA Soil Taxonomy. See also humification.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-0

"humus." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-0

humus

humus
1. Decomposed organic matter of soils that are aerobic for part of the year: it is dark brown and amorphous, having lost all trace of the structure and composition of the vegetable and animal matter from which it was derived.

2. A surface organic soil horizon that may be divided into types, e.g. mor (acid and layered) or mull (alkaline and decomposed). It is the ‘histic epipedon. See also HUMIFICATION.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-1

"humus." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-1

humus

humus
1. Decomposed organic matter in soils that are aerobic for part of the year. It is dark brown and amorphous, having lost all trace of the structure and composition of the vegetable and animal matter from which it was derived.

2. Surface organic soil horizon that may be divided into types: mor (acid and layered) or mull (alkaline and decomposed). It is now known as a ‘histic epipedon’.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus

"humus." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus

humus

humus Dark brown, organic substance resulting from partial decay of plant and animal matter. It improves soil by retaining moisture, aerating and increasing mineral nutrient content and bacterial activity. Types include peat moss, leaf mould, and soil from woods.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/humus

"humus." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/humus

humus

hu·mus / ˈ(h)yoōməs/ • n. the organic component of soil, formed by the decomposition of leaves and other plant material by soil microorganisms.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-0

"humus." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-0

humus

humus The semi-decomposed organic matter in the soil; it provides nutrients for plant growth and increases the water-absorbing capacity of the soil.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-2

"humus." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-2

humus

humus XVIII. — L., ‘mould, ground, soil’.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-1

"humus." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus-1

humus

humus •Lammas • Cadmus • Las Palmas •chiasmus, Erasmus •Nostradamus •famous, ignoramus, Seamus, shamus •Polyphemus, Remus •grimace • Michaelmas •Christmas, isthmus •litmus •animus, equanimous, magnanimous, pusillanimous, unanimous •anonymous, eponymous, Hieronymus, pseudonymous, synonymous •Septimus •Mimas, primus, thymus, timeous •Thomas •enormous, ginormous •brumous, hummus, humous, humus, spumous, strumous •blasphemous •bigamous, polygamous, trigamous •endogamous, monogamous •calamus, hypothalamus, thalamus •venomous •autonomous, bonhomous, heteronomous •Pyramus •dichotomous, hippopotamus, trichotomous •Thermos

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"humus." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"humus." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus

"humus." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/humus