Student Int Poll - Fall, 1995


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

We can recommend books and techniques that can help you learn more about these things within the BOTN 201 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 Monique.


    Books--We have two books specifically about wildlife habitats, the Eastern and Western volumes of Field Guide to Wildlife Habitatsby 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 one or two 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 ecology find their way into lecture. On field trips, we'll talk a lot about 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!


Dr. Wilson 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. Mabberly'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 now 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 medicinal 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.


    Books--The biggie: AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants. Also look at Tull's Practical Guide to Edible and Useful Plants--it has a section on poisonous plants. Most manuals and floras will list information about poisonous properties for plants. Books on edible plants will let you know what is safe.

    In the Field--Learn to recognize our local poisonous plants. Practice sight-identifying families that have many poisonous members. Avoid eating wild plants unless you KNOW what they are...

    Plant Collection--It would be interesting to make a collection of just poisonous plants. Or you might work at determining any poisonous properties of whatever plants you do collect.

    In Lecture and Lab--We'll discuss poisonous plants and families which have many poisonous members. On the field trip, we will talk about what to eat and what not to eat.

    Web sites related to Poisonous Plants


    Books--One of the best for Texas is Tull's A Practical Guide to Edible and Useful Plants. We also have Kindscher's Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie and the Medves' Edible Wild Plants of Pennsylvania. In addition, many keys and manuals have information about edibility listed for each plant. You may also want to look at the AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants to learn what not to eat.
    In the Field--Be on the lookout for edible plants. Please eat only what you KNOW is safe and can positively identify. Don't try too many new things at once. If something is rare, don't harvest too much. Keep notes!!!
    Plant Collection--It would be a challenge to make a collection of only edible plants, but it could be done and probably would be fun. Or, you might want to concentrate on learning if any of the plants you collect are edible.
    In Lecture and Lab--In lecture, much will be made of the major food families. On the lab field trips, we will look at (and try!) some of the local wild edibles. Ask lots of questions--and get Monique's Rumex soup recipe...


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...

    Books --We have Hortus III and Tropica. In the lab, we have Botany for Gardeners. Monique also has a ton of books and magazines on gardening, ornamentals, veggies, roses, landscape design, etc. Just mention what you want, and she'll recommend something... We also have information about growing many natives in the landscape.
    In the Field--Practice sight-identification of families. This will help you learn to recognize plants in gardens, nurseries, etc. Watch for native plants that might make good landscape plants.

    Plant Collection--Cultivated plants are not allowed, but you might want to make a collection of wild relatives of garden plants or a collection of plants you would want in a landscape.

    In Lecture and Lab--Again, learn the families. Each time in lab, you will find a marked nursery catalog featuring cultivated members of the families we study. We will also bring in cultivated plants to show family features. On field trips, we'll talk about which native plants can be adapted for home landscapes.


Boy, are you in luck! This is the main thing we deal with. 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.

    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:

        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. We have several books on south Texas plants, prairie plants, and native grasses. 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.


      We will certainly talk about crop plants that belong to the families we study.

        Books--Check out Cornucopia. It is good discussion of various cultivars. We also have some books on range plants and weed plants--this ties in with crop plants.

        In the Field and Plant Collection--Since your collection is to be of wild plants, you might want to study and make a collection of weed species that share habitat with crops that interest you. Alternatively, you could try to collect wild relatives of crops.

        Web sites related to Agriculture and Agronomy

        In lecture, Dr. Wilson will be discussing carnivorous plants and how they trap food.

        In lab, we will get a chance to see some live ones.

        Plant Collection--If you collect carnivorous plants, please be conservation-minded. Some species are threatened because of over- collecting.

        Web sites related to Carnivorous Plants
          Nepenthes Page--Slow-loading, but full of good info and images (the first image seems to be what slows things down--try hitting "stop" after you have given it a while to load)


        This is more the topic for a course in genetics or plant breeding. In lecture, Dr. Wilson will mention a few plants which have unusual methods of pollination and reproduction. If there is a particular group of plants you are interested in (roses, potatoes, oaks, etc...) Monique can help you find books or articles about breeding work with that group. (For example, a recent issue of Smithsonian had a great article about breeding native species of Penstemon for use as landscape plants.)

        Web sites related to Plant Genetics


        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

    Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum
    Cactus and Succulent Plant Mall--a menu of more links


We won't be talking about these per se, but we will certainly be discussing families that have cosmetically useful plants. Keep your ears open.

    Books--Delena Tull's A Practical Guide to Edible and Useful Plants has some information about Texas plants that can be used as hair dyes, etc. Monique has several herb books that are full of recipes for cosmetics.

    Web sites related to Cosmetics--There are tons of sites featuring herbal and cosmetic concoctions--look under health and beauty or personal care products with one of the web search engines. Perhaps not all the information is trustworthy!!


    Books--We have no lack of books with beautiful photographs. Perhaps the best example is Marshall Enquist's Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country. His technique is terrific. Imes' The Practical Botanist offers some good advice and tips on photographing flowers.

    In Lab and Lecture--Take a look at what Dr. Wilson and Dr. Manhart have done. Over the years they have experimented and improved their techniques. They can give you tips about slide photography and video.

    The Plant Collection--While you are out collecting plants, you'll have plenty of opportunity to shoot pictures of what you pick. Study botany and photography at the same time!

    Web sites related to Plant Photography--Check out the photo art in the Botany 201 Image Gallery. If you see something you like, ask--we can tell you how the source image was made.


    This is really the province of Plant Physiology rather than Taxonomy, but we will be talking a little about the chemistry of families, genera, and species. Most of the active chemicals are manufactured "on purpose" by the plant, but some are byproducts of metabolism. A little research on your part will uncover what you want to know.

    Web sites related to Plant Physiology


    Rest assured that before we give you a plant press and send you out to collect we will teach you to recognize this plant (if you don't already!)

    In the Field--Rubber boots, long pants, and long sleeves can keep you from getting poison ivy. Remember that you can get poison ivy from dogs, clothes, backpacks--or anything else that has picked up a load of the irritant oil.


    We probably won't be talking much about this, though we will look at some lichens (a symbiotic combination of fungus and alga) on the field trip. We will be talking some about plant interactions and plant community structure. If you ask her, Monique can point you to material on symbiotic relationships between bacteria and legumes or trees and mycorrhizal fungi and so on.


    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


    While we don't have material specifically on this topic, in this course you can learn about plants that are wildlife foods. You can also use our resources to learn more about plants you know are used in zoos. We also have lots of material on things you wouldn't want to use--poisonous plants, etc. Just ask.

    Web sites related to Zoos
    A Zoo Index Page

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Last updated by Monique Dubrule Reed on 13 Octber 1995