Natural History of Plants (BIO2107.01)

Kerry Woods

Plants define the biological environment. All other organisms depend on plantsʹ capacity for photosynthesis. Plant structure and chemistry have shaped animal (including human) evolution, and we directly depend on plant products for food, medicine, structural materials, and many other things. Yet few people can name even the dominant plants in their environment and what determines their distribution, can recognize the role of vegetation in controlling the living landscape, or are aware of the particulars (and vulnerabilities) of our dependence on plants. This course is a general exploration of the structure, habits, and diversity of plants, with strong emphases on the study of plants in habitat and development of observational skills. Themes include: basic plant structure and function (anatomy, physiology, development);  field identification of plants (with an emphasis on the local flora); understanding of nomenclature and evolutionary relationships (taxonomy and systematics); relationships between plant growth and habit and species distributions and abundance (ecology); and the history and nature of human use of and dependence on plants (ethnobotany). In addition to classroom and written work, the course includes extensive fieldwork in diverse terrain and weather, and there will probably be one weekend field trip.


Prerequisites: None.
Credits: 4
M 2:10pm - 4:00pm; Th 2:10pm - 6:00pm
Maximum Enrollment: 18
Course Frequency:
This course is categorized as All courses, Environment, Four Credit, 2000, Biology, Kerry Woods, and tagged , .