Fall, 1998

We asked you to tell us what interests you have in botany. This was the most diverse group of responses in a long time. 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.........................6  

Aquatic Plants/Wetlands.........................5

Medicinal Plants/Herbs/Homeopathy/Aromatherapy..5

Wildlife Habitats/Foods.........................4  

Tropical/Rainforest Plants......................3

General/Plants and People.......................3 
Poisonous Plants................................2

Teaching Biology................................2

Native Plants...................................1 

Plant Allergies.................................1

Rangeland Ecology...............................1

Rare Plants.....................................1

Plant Pathology.................................1

Collection and Preservation Techniques..........1


Hybrid Plants...................................1
Movement in Plants..............................1


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 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...


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


    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...
Other Links


    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 Bendand Plants of Southernmost TX, both of which are useful. Correll and Johnston does cover the coast. We also have books on tidal marsh plants. We have access to some government publications, too. The botany staff has done a lot of bog-trotting in the last couple of years, so we can be of more help with wetland plants now than ever.

    In the Field/Plant Collection--You are welcome to collect aquatic and marine angiosperms. Be aware of two things, however. 1--There are cultivated plants that occasionally escape along the coast--these may not be keyable. 2--In the damp environments, things take longer to dry. There are special techniques for collecting floating plants--ask Monique to show you.

    In Lecture/Lab--Keep an eye out for families which have aquatic members or which are salt-tolerant or otherwise adapted to aquatic or marine life.

    Aquatic Plant and Water-Gardening Web Sites


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. 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 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 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.


    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 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 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--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. If Mandy is your TA, ask herabout her experiences in Central America!

    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


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, offered in the fall semesters and sometimes in the summer.


    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


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 still in print, so you may want to invest in 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.


    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.


This is something Monique has a lot of experience with, unfortunately. This semester, you will learn quite a bit about plants likely to cause allergies--mostly those with wind-pollinated flowers. The spring flora will introduce you to many of them: oak, elm, ryegrass, bluegrass, pecan, amaranth, and goosefoot, to name a few.


    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


We will be talking about endemic (found in a small area) rare, threatened, and endangered plants this semester.

    Books--We have a nice notebook full of information on the endangered plantspecies in Texas, and can point you toward information on plants of other regions.
    In the Field/Plant Collection--There are several very rare plants found locally. You may want to drop by the herbarium and see what they look like before you go out. When you are in the field, do not pick anything you know is rare, and if you're not sure, use the "Rule of 20": if you see 20 of something, then you may have one.


We won't be talking too much about pathology this semester. There are whole courses devoted to the topic. We may, however, see examples of rusts, smuts, bacterial diseases, and what-not on our field trip. In the meantime, you might want to explore what looks like a pretty good Plant Pathology Site on the Web.


Wow! If you are interested in this,you are going to love all the practice you will get. Doing the Plant Collection for this course is first-rate hands-on experience. Your textbook has some good reference material on plant collections, and Missouri Botanical Garden has a very good Field Techniques page. We can also work with you on methods used for tricky plants such as cacti and aquatics.


We won't be talking too much about farming--this course is dedicated primarily to native plants. However, you will learn about families that include major crop plants, such as the Poaceae (grass family) and Fabaceae (bean family.) You'll be exposed to the names and characteristics of lots of human and animal food plants, cover crops, and drug plants. If there is a particular plant you're interested in, talk to Monique or Dr. Wilson. For the collection, we'll want you to collect non-cultivated material, of course, but you might want to look at what occurs spontaneously on abandoned farmland or in fallow fields. A good site to get started web-surfing about Agriculture is the USDA's main page.


Hmm. This is really more a topic for a plant breeding or genetics class. There are some naturally-occuring hybrid plants in the local flora, however. Oaks tend to hybridize freely, as do Asters, and members of the genus Baccharis. For more information about hybrids in a specific group, talk to your TA, Monique, or Dr.Wilson.


Plant movements are termed tropisms. For example, response to touch is thigmotropism. We won't be studying these per se, but we will be studying plants that demonstrate the phenomenon. Many members of the Legume Family exhibit leaf or leaflet movement--we may be able to observe that in the field, and we will certainly explore the world of carnivorous plants, many of which show movement. You may want to check out the Carnivorous Plant FAQ.


While the study of mushrooms and other fungi has been traditionally linked with botany, fungi are really no longer considered plants. We won't be dealing with fungi in this course, but we can recommend sources on the subject. For some info on edible mushrooms, you can have a look at The Edible LC.

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Last updated by Monique Dubrule Reed on September 4, 1998