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, explain what determines their distribution, or understand the relationships between vegetation and landscape. This course is an intensive exploration of the structure, habits, and diversity of plants, with strong emphasis on the study of plants in habitat We will explore many aspects of basic botany, including plant evolution and taxonomy, and plant structure and function. However, particular emphasis will be placed on the observational tools and skills of the field naturalist, and we will use the local landscape and flora towards this end. The course will emphasize familiarity with the local flora and the ecological relationships and vegetation patterns of the unusually diverse landscape around Bennington. In addition to classroom and written work, the course includes extensive, sometimes strenuous fieldwork in diverse terrain and weather. There may be one weekend field trip.