Fall 2003

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

  Flowers in General/ Giving/Receiving Flowers....9
General/Plant Growth/Trivia.....................4
  Trees & Shade...................................3
  Wildlife Habitats/Foods.........................3
Edible Plants/Nutrition/Food/Herbs..............3
  Outdoorsy/Outdoor Sports........................2
  Native Plants/ Wildflowers......................2
  Rangeland Ecology/Grasses/Livestock.............1
Medicinal Plants/Health Care (People and Pets)..1
  Rainforest Plants...............................1
  Plant Pigments..................................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!


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...


A few gentlemen said they use flowers to get out of the doghouse with their girfriends.  A *lot* of the ladies said they liked to receive flowers.  Gents, are you listening?

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)
  Calyx and Corolla
  How to Make Cut Flowers Last
  How to Preserve Leaves and Flowers with Glycerine


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.  You can find strange and wondrous things at Wayne's Word, too.

For specific information on plant growth, see the lecture notes pages on Vegetative Features.


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."  Shade, in Texas, is a delightful and precious commodity.

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.  We do have several illustrated guides to the trees of North America, including the out-of-print Complete Trees of North America by Elias, which includes good info on wood properties and uses.  We have an atlas of tree species, which shows range information for important hardwoods and gymnosperms.  Then there's the Woody Plant Seed Manual, full of seed yield, germination, and production figures for a number of species.

In Lecture and Lab--You will meet a lot of trees in the class, learn about their families, their uses, and their ecology.  On the Field Trip, you will get to see the local post oak savannah and woods in several stages of succession.

Plant Collection–You may certainly collect trees.  Just remember that handbooks and field guides are *not* keys and should not be used for full identification.  Also, this is not a leaf collection as you may have made in high school or for a dendro course.  Twig and flower or fruit are necessary.



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.



We will definitely talk about ecology in this class

We all like to go romping in the woods, and we know many of you like hiking, fishing, and hunting.  Have a look at the information under "Trees," above for some things you might be interested in.

Also, if you spend a lot of time hiking, camping, or otherwise traipsing around in the underbrush, you will want to be able to recognize Poison Ivy, Stinging Nettle, and Bull Nettle.


This is our most favorite thing!  The study of what's out there is called floristics.  The teaching staff all 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.

    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.  Come by the herbarium to read a good Smithsonian article on intensive farming. 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

    Books--Some keys, such as the Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas and Grasses of Texas have information about agricultural uses for each plant, and quite a few non-native crop plants have become fully naturalized members of our flora.  Come by the herbarium to read a good Smithsonian article on intensive farming. 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--Practice sight-identifying important crop plant families such as grasses and legumes. Observe crop-weed interactions in fields.  Bring unknowns back to the lab to key them.  See how former cropland (the local area was once all under cotton) reverts back to wild vegetation.

    Plant Collection--You might want to make a collection of just relatives of crop plants, or perhaps weed pests of crop plants.

    In Lecture and Lab-Pay special attention to important crop plant families like grasses and legumes.

    Web sites related to Agriculture and Farming
            Future Harvest--Sustainable and eco-Agriculture worldwide
            Eating Locally


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, and so does her newer book that's specifically for Texas and the Southwest. We have Kindscher's Medicinal Wild Plants of the Prairie, which focuses on Native American uses of prairie plants. We have also acquired Native American Ethnobotany. There is lots of information out there; you will have to examine it carefully as not all of it is trustworthy.  Also, check the bulletin board across from the lab.  Interesting articles about plants get put there, and there is one up now about an exciting new anti-tumor drug derived from plants.
    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.


We won't be talking too much about cytogenetics or biotechnology in lab this semester, but Dr. Manhart will probably talk about genetically engineered plants in lecture.  You will find that most of the teaching staff has pretty definite viewpoints on these things.  We'd all like more nutritious, more disease-resistant crops, not to mention veggies that do wonderful things like produce insulin for diabetics.  But do we want to eat plants engineered to produce pesticides, antibiotics, or hormones?  Do you want your sorghum to be able to pass genes to Johnsongrass?  Should "killer" genes be used so that farmers cannot save seed to plant?  Here are a few websites.  A good web search will turn up hundreds more, broth pro and con.

Attack of the weird plants
BioZone--a pro-biotech Irish site
An on-line course about biotechnology
GMO's in Europe


Our very own Image Gallery has some of the best plant images around.  Many of them were taken by Dr. Manhart or by Robert Corbett, one of the TA's for this course.  Both are avid photographers and are glad to share tips and tricks.  Dr. Manhart occasionally teaches a seminar on plant photography; you can ask him when he will teach it next.

    Books--Most of our library deals with Texas plants, but we can certainly recommend books about tropical plants. Tropica is a huge book full of pictures of exotics. We also have a book full of unusual fruit. We can certainly steer you to other sources on tropical and rainforest plants.

    In Lab and Lecture--We will be studying families that have members in the tropics. What you learn in class will help you understand tropical plants to some extent.

    The Plant Collection--You might want to collect plants from families that have many tropical members. If you are lucky enough to get to collect in the tropics, be sure to let us know ahead of time so that we can help you dig up the references you'll need.

    Web sites related to Tropical Botany


Books-- We have some good references on plants useful for dyes.  There's the monumental Native American Ethnobotany and volume 1 of The Useful Wild Plants of Texas (etc.).  Then there is the great work World Economic Plants.  Delena Tull's A Practical Guide to Edible and Useful Plants has good info, and so does her newer book that's specifically for Texas and the Southwest. We can also dig up works on fiber plants, weaving, and dyeing for you.

In the Field--Really examine the plants you see.  Which could be used for dyes?

Plant Collection--You could focus your collection on potential dye plants or test all of your samples to see if they make good dyeplants.

Web sites related to plant dyes or pigments
        Plants for a Future-- Database
       Kew's Ethnobotanical Links
        Our Botany 328 Plants and People notes on Dyes and Fibers
       Urban Eagle Natural Dyes
        Flower Pounding--see some great results on this page

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Last updated by Monique Dubrule Reed on September 8, 2003