Spring 2003

We asked you to tell us what interests you have in botany, and we got a very diverse group of answers back. Here is what you said you wanted to learn more about:

  Flowers in General/ Giving/Receiving Flowers...19
  Wildlife Habitats/Foods........................16
Trees and Climbing..............................6
  Rangeland Ecology/Grasses/Livestock.............5
Edible Plants/Nutrition/Food/Herbs..............4
Aquatic Plants/Marine Plants/Aquaria/ Waterfowl.3
Medicinal Plants/Health Care (People and Pets)..3
  Insectivorous Plants/Plant-Insect Interactions..3
  Hunting in Trees/Outdoor Sports.................2
General/Plant Growth/Trivia.....................2
  Craft Uses......................................1
  BOTN 301 is better than ENTO....................1
  Worked in a Paper Plant.........................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!


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...


A few gentlemen said they use flowers to get out of the doghouse with their girfriends.  A *lot* of the ladies said they liked to receive flowers.  Gents, are you listening?

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)
  Calyx and Corolla
  How to Make Cut Flowers Last
  How to Preserve Leaves and Flowers with Glycerine
  How to Dry Flowers--But do NOT do this for your plant collection!!!



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."

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, which includes good info on wood properties and uses.  We have an atlas of tree species, which shows range information for important hardwoods and gymnosperms.  Then there's the Woody Plant Seed Manual, full of seed yield, germination, and production figures for a number of species.

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.

Plant Collection–You may certainly collect trees.  Just remember that handbooks and field guides are *not* keys and should not be used for full identification.  Also, this is not a leaf collection as you may have made in high school or for a dendro course.  Twig and flower or fruit are necessary.


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.

    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.  Come by the herbarium to read a good Smithsonian article on intensive farming. 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

    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...

    Books--Some keys, such as the Manual of the Vascular Plants of Texas and Grasses of Texas have information about agricultural uses for each plant, and quite a few non-native crop plants have become fully naturalized members of our flora.  Come by the herbarium to read a good Smithsonian article on intensive farming. 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--Practice sight-identifying important crop plant families such as grasses and legumes. Observe crop-weed interactions in fields.  Bring unknowns back to the lab to key them.  See how former cropland (the local area was once all under cotton) reverts back to wild vegetation.

    Plant Collection--You might want to make a collection of just relatives of crop plants, or perhaps weed pests of crop plants.

    In Lecture and Lab-Pay special attention to important crop plant families like grasses and legumes.

    Web sites related to Agriculture and Farming
            Future Harvest--Sustainable and eco-Agriculture worldwide
            Eating Locally


We will definitely talk about ecology in this class

    Books--A number of the books listed under "Wildlife" (above) might be of interest. If it is books about particular plants or pollinators you are interested in, just let us know, and we'll point you in the right direction.
    In the Field--Learn to look at where you are.  In the local environment, you can explore the Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie regimes. You may also find bogs, outcrops, and agricultural areas.  Observe which pollinators are present. What are the plants using to attract pollinators?  Which plants are wind-pollinated?
    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. You could try to identify the pollinators of the plants you collect..
    In Lecture and Lab--Keep your ears perked up, because we will be talking about ecology. When we take the field trip, we'll have a chance to explore several distinct ecosystems.


   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 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 and Marine Plant 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, and so does her newer book that's specifically for Texas and the Southwest. 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.  Also, check the bulletin board across from the lab.  Interesting articles about plants get put there, and there is one up now about an exciting new anti-tumor drug derived from plants.
    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 The Savage Garden, which is just about the best carnivorous plant handboook out there.  We can help you find others, if you like.

In Lecture--Dr. Wilson will go over some families of carnivorous plants, including the Sarraceniaceae and Droseraceae.  Watch for them when we get to the Dilleniidae.

In Lab--When we do the Dilleniidae, you'll have the opportunity to observe sundews, pitcher plants, and tropical pitcher plants.  We will talk about how they get their food, and why they do.

In the Field/Plant Collection---You certainly may collect insectivorous plants, but please be conservation-minded.  Many species are rare and some are threatened.  Do not ever collect Venus fly-traps or Cobra Lilies (Darlingtonia) from the wild.

Carnivorous Plant Websites and Resources on Plant-Insect Relations
        The Carnivorous Plant FAQ
        California Carnivores, where our Nepenthes came from
        International Carnivorous Plant Society
        Flynn Bog--A virtual field trip that will show you some native carnivores
        Pollination Biology
        Know Your Insects
        Butterflies and Their Larvae

We hope you develop some other interest in plants, beyond hiding behind them while hunting.  Have a look at the information under "Trees," above.

Also, if you spend a lot of time hiking, camping, or otherwise traipsing around in the underbrush, you will want to be able to recognize Poison Ivy, Stinging Nettle, and Bull Nettle.


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 intrigues you, let us know. We'll be glad to steer you in a direction to find out what you need to know. Have a look at the other topics discussed here.  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.

For specific information on plant growth, see the lecture notes pages on Vegetative Features.

Books-- We have some good references on useful plants.  There's the monumental Native American Ethnobotany and volume 1 of The Useful Wild Plants of Texas (etc.).  Then there is the great work World Economic Plants.  We can also dig up works on fiber plants, weaving, and dyeing for you.

In the Field--Really examine the plants you see.  Which could be used for fiber? Basketry? Shelter? Dyes?  Useful plants are all around you.

Plant Collection--You could focus your collection on potentially useful plants, test all of your samples to see if they make good dyeplants, or research any useful properties of whatever you find.

Web sites related to Plant Crafts or Ethnobotany
        Plants for a Future-- Database
        Ethnobotanical Leaflets--an electronic journal
        Ethnobotany--academic resources
        Kew's Ethnobotanical Links
        How to Preserve Leaves and Flowers with Glycerine
        How to Dry Flowers--But do NOT do this for your plant collection!!!
        Our Botany 328 Plants and People notes on Dyes and Fibers
        Urban Eagle Natural Dyes
        Flower Pounding--see some great results on this page


We won't be talking too much about cytogenetics this semester, but we will talk about pollination, fertilization, embryo development, and the like.  We'll discuss the fundamental differences between ferns, gymnosperms, and flowering plants, too.  If you want to go further, talk to your TA or Monique.  We can point you to courses, books, and articles that might be interesting to you.


Replant is a good idea.  In this course, especially on the Field Trip, you will learn about species that make suitable replacements for locally harvested trees.


Our very own Image Gallery has some of the best plant images around.  Many of them were taken by Dr. James Manhart, who is teaching a seminar on plant photography this semester.  You could contact him about sitting in.


Well, we certainly think so!  For one thing, plants don't fly or jump away when you try to collect them.  They smell better than bugs, too. We hope you discover more reasons to like plants this semester, and don't just think of us as the lesser of two evils.


That may not be your dream job, but it might be interesting.  Check out our lab on paper making and let us know if we missed anything.

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Last updated by Monique Dubrule Reed on January 21, 2003