Summertime Botany Unit By Jessica Hulcy
On the first day of class, my Botany professor at the
University of Texas
held up a tomato and informed the class, “Every time you eat a tomato, remember you are eating a ripe ovary.” Ugh! That as information could have done ithout! But admittedly, as intrigued by this off"the"all professor. #is teaching style as e$ually unconventional as e chased him through meados and along roadsides, %eeping up ith him as e gathered ildfloers that he pointedout and scratched his every ord in our noteboo%s hile al%ing. n Te&as, the state floer is the bluebonnet or more specifically
. . . and, of course, there is a state la against pic%ing them. 'aturally, our professor had been pic%ing bluebonnets one day hen a state trooper attempted to tic%et him . . . until the professor challenged the officer as to hether the pic%ed floer as
the true state floer, or
The officer finally tore up the tic%et. loved this professor(s teaching and learned as much from him about ho to teach as learned about botany.
Collect, Compare, and Categorize
)irst, you collect plant specimens and press them in a phone boo% or plant press, and then you begin to study and compare them, noticing all their similarities and distinctives. *omparing finally creates categories, hich turn out to be plant families.+y college professor taught us this rule “-o not obsess over grouping plants by genus and species but rather e&amine and group plants by li%e characteristics to
the plant families.” folloed his lead years later hen rote a unit study on plants
but ith a tist/the incredible similarities ere all a part of 0od(s incredible design! +embers of the grass family, the most important economic family to man, all have hollo stems, tiny floers, and parallel veined leaves, from crabgrass to bamboo to heat to oats to corn to rice to sugar cane. The mint family members have s$uare stems and usually have a strong odor mint, basil, rosemary, sage, and lavender. Therose family does not simply include the thorny beauties, but it includes all those edible fruits such as straberries, apples, pears, peaches, and cherries. +embers of the rose family have five petal floers coming from a floral cup that develops into a fruit li%e the fruit rose hips! The pea or legume family has floers that loo% li%e a mouth and seeds that gro in pods, such as beans, peas, peanuts, bluebonnets, isteria, and mes$uite trees. *omposites or 1steraceas ma%e up the largest family in the orld and are actually a number of tiny floers clustered together to loo% li%e one floer. 2hen you give a daisy, a sunfloer, a mum, a dandelion, or a thistle, you are essentially giving a bou$uet of floers in one floer/ a very economical bou$uet!
Eat and Revie
1s you learn about plant families, it is alays fun to coo% and eat representatives of each family. 3ummertime is a great time for salads, and salads can provide great revie of not only plant parts but also of hat family each plant comes from. 3tart building your revie salad ith lettuce or
from the *omposite family. 'e&t, add
from the *ruciferae family by adding pieces of broccoli and caulifloer plus
from the +ustard family ith sliced carrots and celery. 'o salad