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:
Wildlife Habitats/Foods.........................4 Ecology/Conservation............................4
General/Plants and People.......................4 Edible Plants/Nutrition.........................4
Native Plants, Plants of South Texas............1
Origin and Phylogeny of Plants..................1
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.
Dr. Wilson has included some information on medicinal plants in his lectures, and there is some in your text. In addition:
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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-- Dr. Wilson
will work his way around to the orchids by the end of the semester. They're
highly advanced, so they
come last in our roughly-phylogenetic sequence of lectures.
In lab-- We will be looking
at orchids during the last dissection lab. The local orchids bloom primarily
in fall, but you may find
some of the spring-flowering Spiranthes while working on your plant collection.
remember that most orchids are not plentiful. If you want to collect an
orchid, please determine
beforehand that it is not rare or endangered.
You can get a look at a fantastic array of cultivated orchids at the local La Selva greenhouse, located on Hwy 30.
Web sites related to Orchids
Orchid Safari--Member pages, chat, growing tips, etc.
The Orchid Mall--jumping off point for lots of sites
Orchid Photo Sites
Orchids of California
Orchids of Wisconsin
This is our most favorite thing! The study of what's out there is called floristics. Dr. Wilson, Mandy, and Monique all have interests in the local flora.
While we may not talk much about genetics this semester, we will still introduce you to the lineage of some cultivated plants such as wheat. In the field, you may well notice that even within a population of plants that you know are the same species, there is a good amount of genetic variability. Some local plants, such as Quercus, Baccharis and Silphium, form all sorts of hybrids between species, while other plants (such as Crataegus) forego sex altogether and tend to make vegetative clones. Generally speaking, plants are a lot more tolerant of disruption of their genetic material than animals are, so you'll see some interesting things.
Web Sites related to Plant Genetics
Mining Company on Plant Physiology and Genetics
An On-line Course in Plant Genetics
A Lecture on Plant Genetics and Breeding
Parasitism is definitely common in plants, and plant parasites are usually not as "icky" as animal parasites. In this class you will meet Mistletoe, one species of which is abundant locally. There are also a number of less-conspicuous parasites (such as Dodder) and hemi-parasites (such as Indian Paintbrush and Agalinis). We also have some very cool videos of Rafflesia, Australian tree mistletoes, and dodder vines. If we don't get time to show them in lab, ask Mandy or Monique--they'll set it up for you!
Web Sites Featuring Parsitic Plants
Rafflesia--an enormous Sumatran parasite. You can even arrange a tour to see one.
More on dodder.
Relationships of Parasitic Plants
The Parasitic Plant Collection--all sorts of good stuff.
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
Pomology is the study of growing fruit and nut crops, and we will be talking about important fruit crop families and genera as we go along. You will surely meet wild relatives of apples, grapes, pears, persimmons, blueberries, pecans, blackberries, and so forth this semester. If our timing as right, you will get to sample them in the field. You might even want to focus your plant collection on these plants. Some of them have been used as breeding or grafting stock in programs for the development of cultivated strains. (E.g., our local Vaccinium arboreum can be used as a rootstock to grow acid-loving blueberries on the local alkaline soil.)
Related to Pomology
HORT 319--Temperate Fruit and Nut Production at A&M.
This lab is using genetic markers to identify cultivars.
Wineries in Texas, including our own local Messina Hof
This overlaps to a great degree with the taxonomy and classification topic (above.) This is an exciting time for scientists who study phylogeny. At the current time, there is a great deal of new information regarding the origin of green plants, and land plants in particular. Recently, a very new classification system was published, one that has the potential to make taxonomists rethink most of the relationships within the flowering plants.
Links to Current Topics in Phylogeny and Origin of Plants
Angiosperm Phylogeny Group paper--this is the one turning everything on its ear. (Compare with Cronquist, etc. in your course text.)
An Outline of Angiosperm Phylogeny--not as current as the above, but in line with what appears in most textbooks.
Flowering Plant Gateway--Our very own resource for comparing the more recent classification systems.