We asked you to tell us what interests you have in botany. Some people didn't respond, or answered "none," but many folks listed something. This is the most diverse group of answers we've had in a long time. Here is what you said you wanted to learn more about:
Took Dendrology and Hated It....................1
Aquatic Plants/Wetlands/Bird Habitat/Waterfowl..6
Medicinal Plants/Herbs/Health Care..............2
General/Plants and People.......................2
Succession in Tropical Island Communities.......1
South Texas Brush Country.......................1
Cooking with Woods..............................1
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...
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
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."
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.
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. Remember, though, that picture books are not reliable for identifications.
In the Field/Plant Collection--You are welcome to collect aquatic angiosperms. Be aware of two things, however. 1--There are cultivated plants that occasionally escape along the coast or into waterways--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, Water-Gardening, and Waterfowl Web Sites
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:
We will definitely talk about ecology and conservation in this class!
Everyone likes to get flowers.
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)
Fresh Flower Source
Calyx and Corolla
How to Make Cut Flowers Last
How to Preserve Leaves and Flowers with Glycerine
We will definitely talk about ecology and conservation in this class!
Dr. Wilson has included some information on medicinal plants in his lectures, and there is some in your text. In addition:
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. In the meantime, there's a lot of general fun stuff at Wayne's World.
Taxonomy is the study and science of classifying the diversity of life, so everything we do in the course will relate to exploring the wonderful variation around us.
Books--The Herbarium has The Biology and Evolution of Fossil Plants. We can also recommend titles having to do with evolution of specific groups. Let us know what you want.
In Lab and Lecture--We will have lectures on the origin of flowering plants (near the start of the semester) and on Angiosperm diversity and evolution (near the end of the term.) Throughout, key in on things that pique your interest. Ask questions. Look for tie-ins to other things that you are interested in.
Plant Collection--We require 20 plants from 15 families. There is nothing that says you can't collect *more* for your own delight and edification. Some students shoot for 20 families, trying to make the most diverse collection they can. Try to sample as many localities as possible.
A Few Web Sites Related to Evolution and Diversity (see also those for Ecology, above)
The Biology and Evolution Jumpstation-- lots of links
The Phylogeny of Life--organizes information about various groups
Ken Kinman's page--he has some well-researched, if unorthodox, theories
Resources for accurately teaching about Evolution
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.
This is our most favorite thing! The study of what's out there is called floristics. Dr. Wilson and Monique both have interests in the local flora.
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
See the links at Aquatic Plants (above) and:
Restoring American Estuaries
Live from the Estuary
Wow. That's pretty specialized, but it's a fascinating topic. If you can get to some tropical islands this semester, we would *love* to have you legally bring back plants to show us! In the meantime, here are some pertinent links:
The Birth of a New Pacific Island--a chance to watch the colonization of an island from the very start!
New Zealand Plants--some very beautiful islands with a gorgeous flora.
The Bishop Museum--Hawaii is home to some unique organisms.
Oil Spill in the Galapagos--current news
Even if we don't mention a lot of South Texas plants specifically in this course, we do have resources that can help you learn more.
Books--We have Flora of the Texas Coastal Bend; Plants of Southernmost Texas; and Trees, Shrubs & Cacti of South Texas. We can also get our hands on the publications of the Welder Wildlife Foundation down near Sinton.
Plant Collection--By all means, make your collection from the area that interests you. You'll have to go beyond your gray lab key, but we can help out with other references.
Websites related to the Brush Country
The Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary--palm thickets are a disappearing feature of the brush country
The Gulf Prairies and Marshes region
The South Texas Plains region
About the Welder Wildlife Foundation
Another write-up on Welder
Altitude is something we're a little short of down here. If you want to collect and study the plants of, for example, the Rockies, we can help you with floras and manuals. Alpine plants tend to be nice to work with in that they are often petite and easy to press. High altitude regions tend to be particularly prone to erosion and the vegetation can take decades to recover from disturbance. If you visit alpine regions, please take care to protect the environment.
A Few Websites Related to Alpine Plants
Rock and Alpine Gardening
The Alpine Garden
Davis Mts. State Park
Some Websites Related to Cooking over Wood
Blue Moon Chips --gourmet pre-soaked barbecue woods
Barbecu'n on the Intenet--includes characteristics of various woods (scroll down)
Brazos Mesquite Company--all about barbecue woods from a CS local!
In lecture and lab-- You will see numerous images of plants, and the course is supported by our own Image Gallery. Both Dr. Wilson and Dr. Manhart (who teaches Botany 328) are experienced plant photographers and can give you lots of tips. You may want to have a look at Rick Imes' The Practical Botanist, which we have. It has a section on plant photography.
In the Field/Plant Collection--It would be a wonderful addition to the plant collection to make images of what you collect. Many plants which make uninspiring dry specimens are truly dazzling in person. Feel free to hone your photography skills and share your work with the rest of the class.
Websites of Interest to Plant Photographers
Texas A&M Bioinformatics Working Group Image Gallery
The Navasota Flora Page--with virtual field trips loaded with images
Picture Trail--Another site with lots of Flower Images
Lovely Images of Paul Christian's Rare Plants
Photographs Taken from a Crane high above the jungle
Books About Nature Photography
Some Websites Related to Arabidopsis
Arabidopsis Genome Initiative
Arabidopsis--A Model Plant Genome
A list of many more links