Field Trip--The TAMU Campus Ethnoflora


Over the course of this semester, you have been introduced to many different plants.  Some are foods, some are medicines, some are fibers, dyes, or building materials.  This week, we will visit the Floriculture Greenhouse on campus to study and discuss some useful plants.  In some cases, you will see the vegetative plant from which a familiar fruit grows.  In other cases, the plant may completely new to you.  Thus, the lab functions as a review of what you have already learned and an introduction to new plants and ideas.

Objectives for this part of the lab are to:
□ study plants used for food, fiber, medicine, dyes, timber, ornament, or religious purposes
□ review major families and genera of useful plants
□ review characters of monocots, dicots, and gymnosperms
□ be able to identify selected plants by common and scientific name and family, and to name the area of origin and the plant part used
□ gain an appreciation for plants which provide more than one product

Safety concerns:
□ We will be walking on campus.  Wear sun screen if you need to
□ The greenhouse floor may be wet or slippery.  Watch your step.
□ Do not eat or taste anything unless specifically instructed to do so.  The TAMU collection includes poisonous plants.
□ The greenhouse has two cats.  Both are friendly, but do not tease them.  If you are allergic to cats, inform your instructor and we will try to keep the kitties from loving on you.  If they are
are inside when you visit, please do not let them out.


Note #1:  We will see many more plants than this, and you will probably want to make notes about them, but these are the ones we will expect you to know for the practical.  Look for connections to things you have learned in other labs.  
Note #2: These are the plants we expect to see. Availability may vary.  If there are significant changes, we will try to update the online version of this page as the lab nears and bring the changes to your attention.

Outdoor plants

Loblolly pine--Pinus taeda (Pinaceae)  This is an example of a gymnosperm.  Gymnosperm wood is classified as softwood, no matter the hardness.

Pomegranate--Punica granatum  (Punicaceae).  This is a small, non-fruiting (male) plant.  The fruit of a pomegranate is a berry.  The arils around the seeds are edible.  Pomegranate has been cultivated since biblical times.

Banana--Musa sp. (Musaceae)  Different species are grown for food, fiber, or ornament.  They are tropical but will set fruit locally if     protected from freezing for 18 months.

[beds in front of greenhouse]

Basil--Ocimum basilicum (Lamiaceae) -- There are many varieties of basil.  Some are grown for ornament and some for cooking.  Note the square stems, opposite leaves, and two-lipped flowers typical of the mint family.

Poppy--Papaver somniferum   Whether you call this opium poppy, bread poppy, or Oriental poppy, it's the same thing.  The seeds are used in cooking, and latex obtained from immature capsules is refined into opium and heroin.  This plant has been in cultivation so long that it has lost the ability to reproduce on its own.

Flowering cabbage or kale--Brassica oleracea (Brassicaceae)   Cultivars grown for ornament are just as edible as supermarket vegetables.  Most Brasica plants look this way if allowed to flower.

Bluebonnet--Lupinus texensis  (Fabaceae)   Has the typical papilionaceous flower with banner, wing, and keel. 

Asparagus "fern"--Asparagus densiflorus  (Liliaceae)  Not a true fern--will have white flowers and red berries.  Edible asparagus shoots, if allowed to develop, will have similar foliage.

Mustard greens--Brassica oleracea   This is a cultivar grown for its dark, ornamental foliage.

Blue Flax-- (Image by Steven J. Baskauf).  This plant is similar to the flax used for fiber, Linum usitatissimum.

Fig --Ficus carica, Creeping fig--Ficus pumila, and Mulberry--Morus sp.  (Moraceae)  These three plants are in the same family and all have a multiple fruit.  This fig bush is a clone of the oldest known fig in the world.  The creeping fig exhibits a difference between juvenile and mature foliage.  Mulberry leaves are the preferred food plant for silk worms.

Rose--Rosa 'Mermaid'--(Rosaceae).  If the plant is in flower, examine the typical Rosaceae flowers--5 sepals, 5 petals, many stamens. 

Flowering Bradford Pear--Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford'  This is similar to the cultivated pears we eat.  This one is grown for its flowers and fall color.  Unfortunately weedy and short-lived.

Rosemary--Rosmarinus officinalis  (Lamiaceae)   Members of the mint family with typical bilabiate corollas, square stems, and aromatic foliage.

Lemongrass--Cympogon citratum  (Poaceeae)  Note leaves with blade and sheath portion.  This plant is used in cooking for its lemony flavor.

Agave sp.  (Agavaceae)--Same genus as species used to produce pulque, mescal, and tequila.  Plants are monocarpic, flowering once and then dying.  (They usually produce offshoots near the base.)

Palm tree (Trachycarpus)-- at the corner of the greenhouse and date palm--Phoenix dactylifera behind the greenhouse  (Arecaceae)  Palms are the source of oil, edible fruit, fermentable sap, palm sugar, fiber, and building materials.  Compare with the coconut and palm-like cycads you will see indoors

Coconut--Cocos nucifera (Arecaceae)  This is a whole coconut (husk and all) which has germinated into a young palm tree.

Calamondin orange--Citrus mitis  (Rutaceae)  Though a small plant, this has the features--hesperidium fruit, aromatic foliage--typical of all citrus fruit  (orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, grapefruit, kumquat, etc.)

Aloe spp. --(Agavaceae/Aloeaceae)  These plants are succulent monocots.  They have lily-like flowersAloe vera has medicinal uses and now grows "wild" in TX, FL, and HI.

Hibiscus spp. (Malvaceae)  These plants are in the same family as cotton.  Kenaf, a fiber plant, is H. cannabinus. 

Coffee--Coffea sp.   (Rubiaceae)
  Coffee is a shrub or small tree with white flowers and red fruit.  This family also includes quinine.

Pineapple--Ananas comosus  (Bromeliaceae)  Many bromeliads are epiphytes (growing on other plants for support), but the pineapple is terrestrial.

Vanilla orchid--Vanilla planifolia (Orchidaceae)   Plants must be hand-pollinated to produce the capsules which provide vanilla flavoring.  One of the few New World spice plants.

Gingers --Zingiber spp.  (Zingiberaceae)  Many species are cultivated for their flowers.  Z. officinale is the kind most used in cooking.

Monique Reed   12 Jan 2011