Plant Morphology: Part Two

Four botanical activities

Activities for a wide range of ages and abilities in institutions, outpatient settings, vocational education, and community programs.

Activity One
Jack and the Beanstalk
From your local public library, the instructor will check out as many different versions as possible of Jack and the Beanstalk so you can review the illustrations of the magic bean plant.  What do you think of the “botanical accuracy” of the drawings?

This folk tale is from England, and the agricultural beans of the Old World are fava beans (also called broad beans, scientific name Vicia faba).  Draw a fava bean plant as accurately as possible, and then re-draw it as a huge magic plant.  Can the magic plant retain some botanical detail?  What are the logical consequences of rapid growth?  Enjoy!

Activity Two
The Shape and Structure of Large Plants.

Plant examples:

  • Sugar maple tree in winter
  • Sugar maple tree in summer
  • A tuliptree with “elbows” (in winter)
  • An indoor palm tree
  • An outdoor palm tree

Try a free-hand drawing exercise. This is the fun part of putting your botanical knowledge to use.  As you take pen or pencil in hand, think about how the tree actually grows.  If you have taken drawing lessons before, then use what you know about perspective, tone (shading), light source (shadows), and things like that.

Activity Three
Plant Identification
Plant identification is a course in itself, but what you have learned in this class can help you get started.  It is possible to teach yourself plant identification with a hand lens and some botanical keys or polyclaves (either printed or online).  Participants will have a chance to practice using several different kinds of keys and samples of plant material.

Activity Four
The Wide World
The learners using this program may have an interest in the world as a whole.  Botany, horticulture, and agriculture can be a window into interacting with issues, projects, and charities that play a significant role in our world.  One of the authors worked as a volunteer in the Geriatric Extended Care Unit of the VA Medical Center in West Haven, CT, where we established a successful pen-pal relationship with an agricultural missionary in Peru.