Case Studies in Botany

David R. Hershey dh321 at
Sat Mar 27 19:21:40 EST 2004

I coauthored a lab exercise (Hershey and Stutte 1991) where students
would use simple chemical tests to determine which mineral nutrient was
missing from the mineral nutrient solutions of deficient plants. 

The University of California, Davis, has a graduate level course,
Environmental Horticulture 241, Analysis of Horticultural Problems,
which is full of case studies that deal with "sick" plants. For one
exam, people would role play a person with a "sick"  plant. The "sick"
plant was there for the student to examine. The student would interview
that person and try to figure out what was wrong with the plant. In
other exercises, students would evaluate irrigation water quality and
test soils for pH and electrical conductivity. The teaching staff would
intentionally make some plants "sick" by overwatering, underwatering,
irrigating with toxic levels of boron, flouride or salt, or deficient
levels of mineral nutrients.

On most college campuses, you can go on a walking tour and encounter a
number of plant disease and pest problems, as well as many landscaping
deficiencies such as substandard pruning, poor plant choices and poor
placement. Basic botanical concepts can often be discussed in relation
to these problems such as juvenility and negative phototropism in
English ivy, apical dominance as it relates to pruning and sun/shade
plants in relation to sun plants located in shade and shade plants in
the sun.   


Hershey, D.R. and Stutte, G.W. 1991. A laboratory exercise on
semi-quantitative analysis of ions in nutrient solutions. Journal of
Agronomic Education 20:7-10.

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