Fall 2000

We asked you to tell us what interests you have in botany. Some people didn't respond, or answered "none," but many folks listed something. Here is what you said you wanted to learn more about:

 Edible Plants/Nutrition........................17
 Wildlife Habitats/Foods.........................5
 Getting Flowers.................................4
 Medicinal Plants/Herbs/Health Care/Skin Care....3
 Teaching Biology................................3
 Perfumes and Aromatic Plants....................2
 General/Plants and People.......................2
 Trees (Especially large, personable ones).......2
 Native Plants/Wildflowers.......................1
 Poison Ivy......................................1
 Rangeland Ecology...............................1
 Plants to Feel and Touch........................1

We can recommend books and techniques that can help you learn more about these things within the BOTN 301 context. What you get out of this course depends on how much you are willing to put in. We'll be glad to help you however we can.

Most books mentioned on this page are ones we have. We can also recommend others the library might have. Just ask your TA or Monique.



While the focus of this course is wild plants, learning about plant families will help you, because wild and cultivated members of a family are similar in structure and often in preference for growing conditions. Monique has a degree in Floriculture, so you can ask her lots of questions...



Everyone likes to get flowers.

In Lecture and Lab--We really won't talk too much about cut flowers and floral arrangements in this course, but we will go over major plant families that common florist's flowers come from--Caryophyllaceae, Rosaceae, etc.  If you keep your eyes open, you will learn about your favorites.

In the Field--Look for plants that have cut-flower potential.  Wouldn't some of the native grasses be nice?  In the fall, look for the ornamental berries of holly, snail-seed, and beauty-berry.

Plant Collection--You could collect only things you think would make good arrangements.  One for the press, one to key from, one for the vase!

Websites Related to Cut Flowers (no endorsements implied)
        Fresh Flower Source
        Calyx and Corolla
        How to Make Cut Flowers Last
        How to Preserve Leaves and Flowers with Glycerine


We will definitely talk about ecology and conservation in this class!


Dr. Manhart has included some information on medicinal plants in his lectures, and there is some in your text. In addition:

    Books--Check out the AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants. Many plant poisons are also medicines. Mabberley's Plant Book has lots of notes about medicinal uses. Many floras and manuals mention medicinal uses for plants. Tull's A Practical Guide to Edible and Useful Plants has good info. We have Kindscher's Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie, which focuses on Native American uses of prairie plants. There is lots of information out there; you will have to examine it carefully as not all of it is trustworthy.
    In the Field--Look for plants that you know have medicinal value. Learn which ones grow where. But please, DON'T dabble in herbal remedies unless you really know what you're doing...
    Plant Collection--You might want to put together a collection of native medicinal or aromatic plants, or else focus on discovering what uses there might be for whatever plants you collect.
    In Lab and Lecture--Make an effort to learn about and learn to recognize the families that tend to have medicinal properties.


This course will introduce you to various teaching tools--dissection work, field trips, lectures, videos, slides, plant collection, and the Internet. You will also try several types of exams and quizzes. The teaching techniques we use on you this semester may help you define what sort of teaching style you want to adopt.

    Books--One of the best all-around books is Imes' Practical Botanist, which is available for you to read in lab. It's out of print, but looking on line will probably turn up a copy.

    Plant Collection-- If you would like to keep your plant collection to start your own teaching collection, you are certainly welcome to do so. You might want to focus on large, common families that will be present wherever you end up teaching.

    There are lots of good teaching websites out there. We like to think our Lab Tutorials and our on-line Lecture Notes are good examples. There are also lots of possibilities for interactive web-pages such as the Click-A-Fruit tutorial.


In lecture and lab, you will be introduced to plant families that have particularly aromatic members.  There is usually a chemical or structural reason for this.

Books--Ask Monique to bring in her copy of the out-of-print The Scented Garden by Rosemary Verey.  There are a number of similar books which are still in print.
    Plant Collection--You could put togther a collection of aromatic plants!


You are going to learn so much general stuff and soooo much plant trivia this semester that you will be amazed. Have a look at Mabberley's The Plant Book--there is something fun on every page. Also try talking to Monique. She is a veritable fountain of bizarre and esoteric information... If we say something this semester that piques your curiosity, let us know. We'll be glad to steer you in a direction to find out what you need to know. You might also look into taking Botany 328--Plants and People, a course devoted to food, medicine, drug, dye, fiber, and fuel plants.  In the meantime, there's a lot of general fun stuff at Wayne's World.

TREES (Especially large, personable ones)

We like trees, too. In fact, one of the teaching staff (we won't say who) wanted to be a tree when s/he was little because, "trees are nicer than people." You will meet a lot of trees in the class, learn about their families, their uses, and their ecology.

Books--Meetings with Remarkable Trees is a look at large, memorable trees.  Common Reader has several other good books on the subject.  The August 1997 issue of Smithsonian had a great article on treehouses.


This is our most favorite thing!  The study of what's out there is called floristics.  Dr. Manhart and Monique both have interests in the local flora.

    Books--We have a good collection of books on Texas plants--some are picture books and some are technical keys. We either have or can recommend some good regional floras. For example, Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country by Marshall Enquist is a good reference. Have a look in the lab book cabinet. Monique has lots of info on growing wildflowers and using native plants in the landscape.
    In the Field--Practice identifying what you see. Take notes, draw, take pictures, bring things in to identify. Visit as many different habitats as possible and learn what's in them.
    Plant Collection--Whatever you collect and key will teach you something. There is so much out there that you might want to focus on the plants that interest you most.
    In Lecture and Lab--Stay awake! You can learn a lot just from the examples. Many of our lecture examples and quite a lot of our lab dissection materials are native plants. Key quizzes will be fresh, local material--usually wild. The field trips will be all about local wildflowers and plants. This is where the knowledge can really add up.


Boy, are you in luck! This is the main thing we deal with--What is that plant? How can I tell it from all the others? Where else does it grow? The whole lab and lecture are geared toward giving an understanding of the major families and their distinguishing features. Just by staying awake in class, you should learn plenty. We will also talk about the origins and distributions of plants--which ones are cosmopolitan, which strictly New World, which Old World, etc.

Books--We have manuals and floras that cover the whole state and many parts of the U.S. These will help you identify plants.  We also have picture books which will give you an idea of what's out there in a non-scientific way. If it's classical taxonomy and learning how to identify plants you want, we have good books on those, too. Just tell Monique what you want, and she can steer you in the right direction.

In the Field--Practice sight-identification of major families and genera. Quiz yourself and your friends. Try to botanize in as many different places as possible. Make notes, take pictures, draw. Bring back unknowns to identify.

    Plant Collection--You can either collect the unknown plants you want to identify or put together a collection of plants that you have learned to identify. Either way, the more you collect and key, the better you will be at keying. Eventually, you will develop a feel for plants that helps as much as technical knowledge.

    In Lab --Really study and learn the key characters for families and genera. Practice with keys. Work on getting that "feel" for  what's what. Make good use of the lab space and books available.

    Taxonomy-related Web sites:


Poison ivy is no fun.  We will teach you in lab the second week how to recognize it.  For more information on how the plant causes a rash and what you can do about it, have a look at the Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac Information Center.  For images if poison ivy and poison oak, see our image gallery.

    Books--We have North American Range Plants, a good guide to some of the more important plants. Some of the keys, such as the Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas and Grasses of Texas have information about livestock uses for each plant. One of our weed books goes into detail about which plants are harmful or useful for stock and which plants will take over and ruin a good pasture.

    In the Field--Watch what stock eat, and what they avoid. Make notes, draw, take pictures. Practice sight-identifying important range plant families such as grasses and legumes. Bring unknowns back to the lab to key them.

    Plant Collection--You might want to make a collection of just range plants--useful or harmful. Collect plants that interest you.

    In Lecture and Lab-Pay special attention to important families like grasses and legumes. On the field trip, we will see and talk about what happens to overgrazed pastures and how ungrazed pastures go back to prairie and forest.

    Web sites related to Livestock and Range Plants

In Lecture and Lab--You will have opportunities to get your hands on things in lecture and lab.  Dr. Manhart usually brings samples, and lab is almost all hands-on.  On the field trip, you'll get to play with all sorts of things.

Plant Collection--More hands-on experiences.  Maybe you could collect only things that feel nice.  Or you could try to find examples of different textures--soft, smooth, scratchy, sticky, furry, etc.

Related Links
        San Antonio Botanic Garden--has a garden for the blind, where the plants are for feeling and smelling
        Links about gardens for the blind

Our Image Gallery with photos of furry plants such as Salvia and Vitis, scratchy plants like Eheretia, and rubbery plants like Mesembryanthemum

Return to BOTN 301 Homepage

Last updated by Monique Dubrule Reed on September 7, 2000