Botany 307 - Families of Vascular Plants

This is the homepage for a reading course on families of vascular plants that is slanted toward tropical as well as temperate zone families, in order to serve the needs of students interested in ethnobotany.

This course answers the questions at the right, much like the regular undergraduate course (to the pages of whose website these links lead), and covers the additional topics shown below. 

Click on the links at the right, and below, in order to find out more about each of these components of the course.

Organization - Resources - Approach

What are plant families?

How do we distinguish them?

How and why do we study vascular plants?

Selected vascular plant families of Ontario

Reading list

Organization and schedule of this course

13 January 2004 basic plant morphology (vegetative, reproductive)
27 January 2004 the taxonomic hierarchy
10 February 2004 plant families - introduction by instructor
  9 March 2004 plant identification (floras, manuals, keys, etc.) 
23 March 2004 fieldwork and fieldwork preparation
30 March 2004 collecting, preparing, and documenting herbarium specimens
13 April 2004 a comparison of four plant families from taxonomic, economic, and cultural perspectives


Meeting time and place: ESC 3043, 1500-1800h, unless notified otherwise.


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Angiosperm Phylogeny website

BOT307F - Vascular Plant Families course website

Families of Flowering Plants website

  • Adams, C. D. (1972). Flowering plants of Jamaica. Mona, University of the West Indies.
  • Alexiades, M. N., Ed. (1996). Selected guidelines for ethnobotanical research: a field manual. Advances in Economic Botany. New York, New York Botanical Garden Press.
  • Balick, M. J. and P. A. Cox (1997). Plants, people, and culture: the science of ethnobotany. New York, New York Botanical Garden Press.
  • Bridson, D. & L. Forman (1992). The Herbarium Handbook, rev. ed. Kew, Royal Botanic Gardens.
  • Davis, P. H. and V. H. Heywood (1965). Principles of angiosperm taxonomy. Edinburgh, Oliver & Boyd.
  • Howard, R. A. (1974). Flora of the Lesser Antilles : Leeward and Windward Islands. Jamaica Plain MA, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University.
  • Judd, W. S., C. S. Campbell, E. A. Kellogg, P. F. Stevens and M. J. Donoghue (2002). Plant Systematics - A Phylogenetic Approach. Sunderland MA, Sinauer Associates, Inc.
  • Mabberley, D. J. (1997). The Plant Book, 2nd ed. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  • Radford, A. E., W. C. Dickison, J. R. Massey and C. R. Bell (1974). Vascular Plant Systematics. New York, Harper & Row.
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The way I see this reading course working is that participants will take the topics that I have suggested and prepare a set of notes. When we meet, they will have a chance to present what will amount to an abstract of their notes to the rest of us (in other words: teach the others what you have learned). The raw materials for these notes will be the readings that I will suggest for each topic using these pages: readings in some or all of the books listed above, and in some of the websites referred to as well. I will try to get as much use out of the BOT307F web pages as I can, in order to convey to you my approach to any of our topics that are covered there.

In preparing these notes I would like participants to draw upon their own experience where possible, experience gained in other activities, or experience gained in researching the topic not only by reading, but where possible by direct observation, e.g. of houseplants, or of fruits and vegetables in the kitchen, or by visits to a greenhouse, or park, or the like.

This reading course will not have any tests or exams, so the record of your participation that I would like to have - for myself and for each of you - is a portfolio of all of these sets of notes. As a starting point, I would suggest that these notes be in the form of a text or word processor file, augmented by your sketches, diagrams, or digital photos (I could supply use of a camera if necessary). I emphasize that these should be your handiwork because I think you learn more from making these teaching materials yourself, and because I envision as one means of sharing these notes my posting them on this website.

These notes about my desired approach to giving this reading course are themselves a work in progress, and I hope that you all will give me feedback either now or as we proceed in order to make sure that this course meets your needs.

23 December 2003

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| What are plant families? | How do we distinguish them? | How and why do we study them? | Selected vascular plant families of Ontario | Reading List | Course outline |

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Please send your comments to; last updated 23-Dec-2003