How to Know and Learn about Plants
In your home. On a walk. In a garden. In art. As a citizen scientist. In school. Out of school.
In the woods. On the web. In a book. In the kitchen. In the dirt.
The more Botany we learn,
the more people benefit from plants in a sustainable way.
Doing science and research with plants brings insight to plant processes, properties and possibilities for planet Earth. Ecosystems can be managed and supported by plant science findings.
The Top 10 Things to know about Plants
There are about a quarter million different plant species
They dominate ecosystems all over the Earth
They release life giving oxygen into the environment
They have organs
They make their own food
They make plant babies in weird and wonderful ways
They make homes for animals
They are givers – food, fuel and housing for us
We love flowers, right?
Angiosperms are the botanical group of flowering plants, and dominate all global species. With an estimated 400,000 plants species, about 300,000 of those plants are Angiosperms, that’s 75%!
There’s a crazy variety of Angiosperms!
Angiosperms are grouped together because they have flowers as their means of reproduction. Seeds, which are baby plants, develop within the angiosperm flowers, and so begin the plant life cycle.
Flower function is reproduction.
Flowers are essential to humanity and biodiversity's survival and sustenance.
Flower structure has incredible diversity and beauty! Flower parts include the pistil, the female part and stamen, the male part. Or not. Some flowers may be just female, or just male.
The peduncle - the best Botany word ever - is the stem that holds up the flower.
Fruit functions to protect the plant seed.
Fruit structure depends on the flower structure but has areas from outside to inside are called the exocarp, mesocarp, and endocarp.
Fruits are the plant’s evolutionary scheme – sweet fruit gets eaten and the undigested seed gets deposited elsewhere, aiding the sprouting of new plant babies.
Seeds are baby plants
with their own food, and immature roots, stems, and leaves, functioning as the embryo of new plants.
Seed foods feed the world – rice, corn, wheat, oats and quinoa are delicious and essential energy foods.
Roots function to keep plants secure
and absorb water and nutrients.
Roots can be branched, straight, or fine, with lots of surface area. Likewise, they keep soil in place, preventing mudslides and soil depletion of nutrients.
But not all roots are earth bound. Aerial plants have open air roots that absorb water from the air and get nutrients its surroundings.
Stems are the point of attachment
for all the other plant organs.
Stems have a network of tubes called xylem and phloem running through them. These tubes are like our circulatory system. Xylem brings water and nutrients up from the roots, and phloem brings glucose, plant sugar, down to the rest of the plant.
Leaves harvest light and make oxygen
in photosynthesis to make the powerful energy that literally runs the world.
Leaves are usually flat, and are mostly, but not always green. Stomates are tiny holes on the underside of leaves that let carbon dioxide enter and water exit.
Plant Academics - Some History
Charles Edwin Bessey’s book ‘Botany for High School and College’ was published in the 1800’s.
Bessey wanted people to go out and explore plants beyond learning about plants in his book.
With apologies from Plants Go Global in the use of the era’s gender expression, Bessey said the following:
“Should this book serve to interest the student in the study of plants as living things, should it succeed in directing him rather to the plants themselves than to the books which have been written about them, should it contribute somewhat to the general reader’s knowledge of the structure and relationship of the plants around him, the objects kept in view in its preparation will have been attained.”
Learning Plants in School–
Kindergarten through 12th grade and college
If your teachers were excited about plants, they may have been part of class, lab and activities. But the best teacher is going outside.
If you were lucky,
you learned about plants from kindergarten through high school.
Unfortunately, Botany and plant Biology have been pushed out of many science curriculums to make way for standardized test prep.
Biology or Life science studies at any grade level do include plants as part of a bigger picture.
Plant science can be found in other natural science topics, but usually not by itself.
Plants as a subject will show up in ecosystems, biomes, food and nutrition, taxonomy, agriculture, photosynthesis and cellular respiration study units.
Advanced Placement Environmental Science,
the College Board’s college level course taught in high school features plants in forestry, global change and agriculture units,
connecting students to issues and plant solutions.
Colleges and universities still offer Botany majors,
yet many of the Plant Science departments have been folded into Animal Science or other related life science studies.
Thanks to the Tishman Environment and Design Center.
Vocational schools and community colleges
teach plants through horticulture, agriculture, forestry, nursery and turf management and landscaping.
Thanks to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region; Haywood Community College.
School Garden resources
Children and young people are the future stewards of our planet Earth.
Growing and learning about plants are the tools to get them started.
Today school gardens are fantastic places for learning about plants, both for students and teachers. Students get their hands dirty, watch plants grow, and eat vegetables they’ve never had before. Math problems are necessary and relevant with growing plants. New vocabulary is enriching. And standardized test results can improve.
First Lady Michelle Obama planted the White House Kitchen Garden,
propelling the school garden movement.
Thanks to NASA/Aubrey Gemignani.
Read Plants to know Plants
Contact me to review your favorite plant titled book to be featured on Plants Go Global!
The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. Plants as crops play a role as they can’t stand up to the Dust Bowl’s destruction. The lack of plants as livelihood and life create a tragic drama. The importance of soil management in growing crops shows up vividly.
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. A young boy learns life’s lessons, yet the power of trees is the real story.
The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger. Teen age angst plays out amidst a rye field.
Jack in the Beanstalk. Of course.
What’s that Plant? Plant identification Apps
PlantSnap to the rescue. It’s an app that identifies plants.
iNaturalist Not just plants, your natural pictures are identified, used for scientific research as you learn what’s in your natural world.
Learning Plants Outside of School:
These high school organizations include plants and the world in their
outlook and action:
4H is all about empowerment of young people, who are the stewards of the Earth’s plants. 4H’s hands-on plant focus includes agriculture, science and the environment.
The Envirothon is an international natural resource competition for high school students that focuses on an environmental current issue and their knowledge on local forestry, soil, water and wildlife.
The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) includes the study of environmental factors crucial to plant needs – soil, air, and water observations in this citizen scientist program.
Be a Plant Citizen Scientist
Garlic. Mustard. Not just condiments – the Garlic Mustard plant is an invasive species, outgrowing other plants and ecosystems. You can help document them in North America and Europe with the Global Garlic Mustard Field Study.
Phenology studies changes in plants (and animals) over times and seasons and can show patterns during climate change. Citizen plant science can help track these changes and submit their observations to document global warming and environmental change.
Nature’s Notebook has numerous plant campaigns featuring many different plants and ways to study them.
Project Budburst brings all kinds of planty people together to observe and collect data on the effect of climate change on plants's lifespan changes. When will the buds open into flowers?
Plant and Botanical Organizations
The Botanical Society of America
is the professional organization of American botanists.
Scientists, students and educators work together to learn and research up to the moment plant discoveries.
Though some Botany and Plant Science societies are geared for scientists, many welcome plant learners as members. There are many national societies, from Japan to Pakistan and more. Many have a specific plant organizations focus ranging from succulents, carnivorous plants, orchids, oaks, plant diseases and many others.
The BSA’s Co-sponsored YouTube Series - Plants are Cool Too!
Dr. Chris Martine explains it all.
Smart Plants? Yes, they are responsive
How does a Morning Glory know
to wrap its delicate winding tendrils around itself and its surroundings for support?
STEAM Botany has plant based, hands on, inquiry driven activities, investigations and field work that introduce students to the importance of plants.
Growing plants drives the curriculum which will support studies in Science, Technology, Engineering, Expression, Arts, and Mathematics.