Laboratory 1: Plant Vegetative Morphology and Vegetables
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The goals of this laboratory exercise are to familiarize you with the vegetative morphology of flowering plants and to make you more aware of the different types of edible vegetables we use in our daily lives. Leaves, stems, and roots comprise the vegetative body of a flowering plant. Leaves are responsible for photosynthesis. Stems comprise the central axis and branches of a plant, a system which acts to transport photosynthates from the leaves to other organs of the plant and to transport water and nutrients from the roots. The system of stems and branches also serves to get the solar panels of the plant--the leaves--to the light. Together, leaves and stems are often referred to as shoots. Roots serve as anchors, holding the plant upright, and as sponges that extract water and nutrients from the soil. Many roots and stems are also modified for the storage of nutrients. These nutrients are in turn used by the plant to produce new growth.
Over the course of human evolution a diverse array of plant vegetative structures have been selected for their food value. The vegetables we eat today have a long history of artificial selection and cultivation. There was a time in the past when the ancestors of the plants we eat today were gathered from the wild to sustain the lives of our ancestors. Eventually, these wild plants were selected and modified through cultivation to support the growing population of human beings on this planet. We rely on many plant vegetative structures as food for ourselves as well as for our livestock.
By the end of this lab period you should be able to recognize the different vegetative structures of a typical flowering plant and to describe briefly the importance that each of these structures serves in the life of a plant. You should be able to recognize numerous edible vegetables by their common and scientific name and, in general, know what vegetative plant structure is represented by the vegetables on display. You should also gain a basic understanding and especially an appreciation of the diversity of geographic origins of cultivated plants. Stated in other words: we want you to know your food!
Can you match the common names listed below with the vegetables displayed? Study the vegetables provided, paying special attention to their morphological structure, family, scientific name, and geographic origin.
|COMMON NAME||FAMILY/SCIENTIFIC NAME||STRUCTURE||ORIGIN|
|alfalfa sprouts||Fabaceae/Medicago sativa||shoot||Near East|
|bamboo shoots||Poaceae/Bambusa vulgaris||shoot||Asia|
|bean sprouts (Mung)||Fabaceae/Vigna radiata||whole plant||Asia|
|brussels sprouts||Brassicaceae/Brassica oleracea var. gemmifera||shoot||Europe|
|cabbage||Brassicaceae/Brassica oleracea var. capitata||leaf||Mediterranean|
|cactus pad||Cactaceae/Opuntia sp.||stem||New World|
|cassava/manioc/yuca||Euphorbiaceae/Manihot esculenta||root||S. America|
|chinese cabbage||Brassicaceae/Brassica pe-tsai||leaf||Asia|
|cinnamon||Lauraceae/Cinnamomum verum||bark||Sri Lanka/India|
|collard greens||Brassicaceae/Brassica oleracea var. acephala||leaf||Europe|
|daikon||Brassicaceae/Raphanus sativus cv. Longipinnatus||root||Asia|
|kale||Brassicaceae/Brassica oleracea var. acephala||leaf||Mediterranean|
|kohlrabi||Brassicaceae/Brassica oleracea var. gongyloides||stem||Mediterranean|
|leek||Liliaceae/Allium ampeloprasum||stem||Near East|
|maple syrup||Aceraceae/Acer saccharum||sap(stem)||N. America|
|mustard greens||Brassicaceae/Brassica nigra||leaf||Eurasia|
|sugar cane||Poaceae/Saccharum officinarum||stem||tropical Asia|
|sweet potato||Convolvulaceae/Ipomoea batatas||root||S. America|
|swiss chard||Chenopodiaceae/Beta vulgaris var. cicla||leaf||Mediterranean|
|taro root||Araceae/Colocasia esculenta||stem||Old World tropics|
|water chestnut||Cyperaceae/Eleocharis tuberosa||stem||Old World tropics|
|white potato||Solanaceae/Solanum tuberosum||stem||S. America|
|yam||Dioscoreaceae/ Dioscorea sp.||stem||Old World tropics|