Plant taxonomy/flora course

Bill Williams WEWilliams at
Mon Mar 5 08:13:50 EST 2001

>Dear Plant-edders,
>I have been asked to put on a third year, one semester course for botany
>students(who will have had one full year of  general botany), which
>covers some basic plant taxonomy as well as the flora of Ontario.  I
>recognize that this course could be valuable for the students so I have
>agreed to put it on.  I am neither a plant taxonomist nor a field
> it will be a challenge!
>I am looking for advice from anyone who teaches such a course, and also
>looking for text suggestions. Two books I have thought of
>Vascular Plant Families, by Jayne Smith and Common Fowering Plant
>Families by Hickey.
>Anyone any other suggestions?

Dear Christine,

I teach a similar course but with more emphasis on local ecology, so 
my text -- Terrestrial Plant Ecology by Barbour et al. -- would 
probably not be useful for your course. I have the students make a 
small collection of properly prepared herbarium specimens (15 species 
from 10 families at least three of which much be monocot families) 
and take several field trips in College vans. We visit interesting 
local habitats (e.g., a coastal island, a cypress swamp -- be sure to 
check out all the cypress swamps in Ontario, heh, heh, heh...). For 
the nuts and bolts of phylogenetics I heartily recommend "The 
Compleat Cladist," by Wiley et al. (University of Kansas Museum of 
Natural History), if only for you (it's how I--a poor physiological 
ecologist--learned enough phylogenetics to be dangerous).  There's 
also a great book called "How to Identify Plants" by Harrington and 
Durrell (Swallow Press, may be out of print) that tells all about 
preparing herbarium specimens and collecting, and a terrific glossary 
that I can't put my hand on right now, but I think it's title is 
"Plant Identification Terminology" (in fact, I think I heard about it 
right here on Plant Ed).

Hope this is useful.


William E. Williams
Biology Department
Saint Mary's College of Maryland
18952 E. Fisher Rd.
Saint Mary's City, MD  20686-3001


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