====THE RESULTS ARE IN !!===

Spring 2001

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:


Wildlife Habitats/Foods........................18
  Gardening/Houseplants/Landscape/Terraria........9
  Rangeland Ecology/Farming/Agriculture...........8
Trees/Forest Ecology/Succession.................8
Aquatic Plants/Wetlands/Bird Habitat/Waterfowl..6
Edible Plants/Nutrition/Food....................5
Taxonomy/Identification/Classification..........5
Nature/Ecology/Conservation/Environments........5
Getting/Giving Flowers..........................4
Medicinal Plants/Herbs/Health Care..............2
General/Plants and People.......................2
Life/Evolution/Diversity........................2
Teaching Biology................................1
   Natives/Wildflowers.............................1
Marine Plants...................................1
Succession in Tropical Island Communities.......1
South Texas Brush Country.......................1
Alpine/High-altitude Plants.....................1
Cooking with Woods..............................1
Photographing Plants............................1
Bluebonnets.....................................1
Arabidopsis......................................1
Took Dendrology and Hated It....................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!



WILDLIFE HABITATS/FOODS

GARDENING/ HOUSEPLANTS/LANDSCAPES/TERRARIA

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...


RANGELAND ECOLOGY/FARMING/AGRICULTURE
    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.  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



TREES/FOREST ECOLOGY/ SUCCESSION

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.


AQUATIC PLANTS/ WETLANDS/ BIRD HABITAT/ WATERFOWL
    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. 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.  We have two books specifically about wildlife habitats, the Eastern and Western volumes of Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats by Benyus.

    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



EDIBLE PLANTS/NUTRITION/FOOD
    Books--One of the best for edible natives of Texas is Tull's A Practical Guide to Edible and Useful Plants. She has also published Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest: A Practical Guide, which we don't yet have but which is readily available. We do have Kindscher's Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie and the Medves' Edible Wild Plants of Pennsylvania. We have Native American Ethnobotany, World Economic Plants, and the huge two-volume Cambridge World History of Food.  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.  We can also recommend lots of good vegetarian (and other) cookbooks.
    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.  You could also focus on wild relatives of domesticated edible plants you like.
    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...


TAXONOMY/IDENTIFICATION/CLASSIFICATION

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.

    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:



NATURE/ECOLOGY/CONSERVATION/ENVIRONMENTS

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

    Books--A number of the books listed under "Wildlife" (above) might be of interest. If it is books about the floras of different regions you are interested in, just let us know what part of the country (or world!) you're interested in and we'll point you in the right direction.
    In the Field--Learn to look at where you are: what type of ecosystem, what type of land use, etc. In the local environment, you can explore the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie regimes. You may also find bogs, outcrops, and agricultural areas.
    Plant Collection--You might want to collect from one type of habitat that interests you most, or you might want to get plants from as many different ecosystems as possible. If you decided to collect out of state, let us know as soon as possible so we can start tracking down the best flora for you to use for identification.
    In Lecture and Lab--Keep your ears perked up, because we will be talking about ecology and floras. When we take the field trip, we'll have a chance to see succession first hand and to explore several distinct ecosystems.

GETTING FLOWERS

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



NATURE/ECOLOGY/CONSERVATION/ENVIRONMENTS

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

    Books--A number of the books listed under "Wildlife" (above) might be of interest. If it is books about the floras of different regions you are interested in, just let us know what part of the country (or world!) you're interested in and we'll point you in the right direction.
    In the Field--Learn to look at where you are: what type of ecosystem, what type of land use, etc. In the local environment, you can explore the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie regimes. You may also find bogs, outcrops, and agricultural areas.
    Plant Collection--You might want to collect from one type of habitat that interests you most, or you might want to get plants from as many different ecosystems as possible. If you decided to collect out of state, let us know as soon as possible so we can start tracking down the best flora for you to use for identification.
    In Lecture and Lab--Keep your ears perked up, because we will be talking about ecology and floras. When we take the field trip, we'll have a chance to see succession first hand and to explore several distinct ecosystems.


MEDICINAL PLANTS/HERBS/HEALTH CARE

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 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.
    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.

GENERAL/PLANTS AND PEOPLE

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.



LIFE/EVOLUTION/DIVERSITY

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



TEACHING BIOLOGY

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 out of print, but looking on line will probably turn up 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.

    Websites
    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.



NATIVE PLANTS/WILDFLOWERS

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.

    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.


MARINE PLANTS

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


SUCCESSION IN TROPICAL ISLAND COMMUNITIES

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


SOUTH TEXAS BRUSH COUNTRY

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



HIGH ALTITUDE/ALPINE PLANTS

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
        High-Altitude Revegetation
       Davis Mts. State Park



COOKING WITH WOODS
Quite a few of the local hardwoods are excellent for barbecuing or smoking meats.  Oak, pecan, hickory, and mesquite are all common locally.

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!



PHOTGRAPHING PLANTS

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
    Another Gallery
   Photographs Taken from a Crane high above the jungle
    Books About Nature Photography



BLUEBONNETS
Bluebonnets are on the non-collectible list for Botany 301, but we will be looking at them and talking about them.  Here is a site where you can learn about the state flowers for all 50 states--including gardening tips, and here is one about the toxicity of lupines to animals.


ARABIDOPSIS
Arbidopsis is the fruit-fly of the plant genetics world.  It is fast growing, takes up little space, and has a fairly simple genome.  We won't be studying Arabidopsis in particular, but we will be learning about its relatives in the Mustard Family (Brassicaceae).

Some Websites Related to Arabidopsis
Arabidopsis Genome Initiative
Arabidopsis--A Model Plant Genome
A list of many more links



TOOK DENDROLOGY AND HATED IT
We're sorry to hear that someone hated anything that was supposed to be a learning experience.  We'll just say that Botany 301 is not Dendrology.  Give us a chance, and we'll try to teach you about plant families, characters, and ecology in a way that you won't despise.


Return to BOTN 301 Homepage


Last updated by Monique Dubrule Reed on January 26, 2000