Fall 2001

We asked you to tell us what interests you have in botany. This is a very diverse group of answers. Here is what you said you wanted to learn more about:

  Taking the course as a requisite or elective...18
Teaching Biology................................9
Edible Plants/Nutrition/Food/Herbs..............5
Medicinal Plants/Herbs/Health Care..............4
General/Plants and People.......................4
  Wildlife Habitats/Foods.........................3
  Rangeland Ecology/Grasses.......................1
   Native Plants/Wildflowers.......................1
Herbarium Operations............................1
  Plant Physiology................................1
Marine Plants...................................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.  If you find a link in this document that is not working, please let us know!


Believe us, we know what it's like to take required courses, or to have to choose an elective from a small list of classes.  Still, we hope that you find something in the course that interests you. Keep your ears and eyes open.  Chances are, we'll say something that piques your curiosity.   Plants are pretty nifty, after all.  Ask questions, ask for references, talk to your teachers, and have a look at some of the links on this site.  There is a lot of cool botany on the web.


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...


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.



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.


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


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


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 intrigues you, let us know. We'll be glad to steer you in a direction to find out what you need to know. Have a look at the other topics discussed here.  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.

    Books--We have two books specifically about wildlife habitats, the Eastern and Western volumes of Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats by Benyus. Try Imes' The Practical Botanist for an overview of plants in the environment and different types of habitats. In addition, many of the keys and manuals have notes about each plant's usefulness to wildlife. For example, Elias' The Complete Trees of North America goes into great detail, Correll & Johnston's Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas often has info, and Monique's black key also includes wildlife food uses. In addition, we have several general books on ecology and plant habitats.
    In the Field--Pay attention to what animals eat and where they live. Collect and identify samples of plants that they use. Visit and study the habitats and ecosystems that interest you most. Be curious. Take notes, draw, collect, take photos. You may want to look into Outdoor Rec trips or go somewhere neat to collect. Whenever possible, go out in the field with someone who knows the environment and ask lots of questions.
    Plant Collection--You might want to make your collection from just a few locations that represent ecosystems you want to know more about. Conversely, you might want to make it as broadly-based as possible. Either way, look at what's around you when you're out collecting. If you are interested in wildlife, you can try 1) collecting plants that you know are used by wildlife and 2) reading to determine if other plants you collect have uses you didn't know about.
    In Lab and Lecture--Listen. Little bits about animal ecology find their way into lecture. On field trips, we'll talk a lot about important different plant communities and ecosystems. Learn about the major families and what their presence tells you about a habitat or community. When we go on field trips, we will mention some plants that animals eat (such as grapes, acorns, hawthorn fruits, etc.), and we will talk about what animals can be found locally. Ask questions!

    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 or cropland.  We also have an interesting book on the lost or little-grown grain crops of Africa, many of which would be suitable for Texas.
    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. Observe crop-weed interactions in fields.  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. You could focus on wild relatives of cultivated crop plants such as cotton, alfalfa, or sorghum. Collect plants that interest you.

    In Lecture and Lab-Pay special attention to important grazing and crop plant 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


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.

What's a herbarium?  It's like a library, except with plants instead of books. We may not discuss herbarium operations too much in lecture, but in lab you will learn the right way to prepare herbarium specimens, and how to handle and store them.  You will become familiar with some of the references herbarium botanists use to identify plants.  If you would like actual herbarium experience, just speak to Monique.  She is always looking for volunteer help!
Websites related to Herbaria
        The Biology Department Herbarium at Texas A&M
       The S. M. Tracy Herbarium at Texas A&M
       The Plant Resources Center at U. T. Austin
       Index Herbariorum--search for institutions, locations, or people
        Missouri Botanical Garden's Herbarium Handbook

Hmm.  We won't spend too much time on physiology this semester--that is a whole seperate course.  We will, though, talk about pollination, fertilization, plant chemistry, genetics, response to environmental stimuli, etc.  These are all physiology- related.  You can use a web search engine such as AltaVista to search for particular topics.


Of necessity, most of what we'll be pulling in as examples this semester will be terrestrial plants.  They are easier to walk out and get and they greatly outnumber marine species.  Still, you are welcome to study and collect marine angiosperms and to use them in your collection.  Monique can give you some tips about pressing them.

Books--We have two good sets of books on aquatic and wetland plants (including coastal)--one set for the Southeast, and one for the Southwest. Both have good illustrations. We also have the Flora of the TX Coastal Bend and Plants of Southernmost TX, both of which are useful. Correll and Johnston does cover the coast. We have books on tidal marsh plants. We have access to some government publications, too.
Links related to Marine Plants
        Marine Plants and Algae
        Restoring American Estuaries
        Live from the Estuary
       Aquaculture in British Columbia

We will get to the family that encompasses tulips, the Liliaceae, near the end of the semester.  In the meantime, you can look at these links.
                Holland, Michigan's Tulip Time Festival
               McClure and Zimmerman--bulb retailers (no affiliation)
                Some books on tulips

As for how to make them live longer, we're not sure.  They usually do not repeat bloom in Texas--they don't get enough cold, the summers are too hot, and there are too many pests and diseases.

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Last updated by Monique Dubrule Reed on August 30, 2000