This course enables students to identify vascular plants to species or a lower rank, with the use of dichotomous keys, plant family recognition characters, and dissection/inspection of specimens under a dissecting microscope. Students will develop their practical botany skills by completing a collection project, in which they will properly and ethically collect flowering plants local to them, press the specimens, identify them, and finally mount them to produce museum-quality herbarium specimens.
The Colorado flora will be used as a starting point and the focus for the plant families we discuss, but the skills learned in this course will enable students to identify vascular plants worldwide.
Emphasis will be on the identification of angiosperms (flowering plants), though we will also touch on gymnosperms, lycophytes, and ferns.
Students who complete this course will have a working knowledge of plant morphology, and will know how to approach identifying an unfamiliar vascular plant species.
Course topics include:
Why identify plants?
Plant morphology and terminology necessary for ID
Plant taxonomy, plant systematics, and the use of scientific vs. common names
Plant families and how to recognize them
Herbaria, voucher specimens, and their importance in science
How to use a dichotomous key
Online and text resources for plant identification
Participating in citizen science projects
How to make herbarium specimens, from collecting the plants to mounting them on herbarium paper
BZ 120 (Principles of Plant Biology) or LIFE 103 (Biology of Organisms: Animals and Plants).
Textbooks and Materials
Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.
- BZ 223 Supply Kit
- Flora of Colorado (2015)
- Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary (2009)
Harris, J. G., & Harris, M. W.