Local Flora (BIOL225)


Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Identifying animals and plants in the wild is one of the skills that are expected from many biologists but seem to be in decline. If you want to be able to tell apart maples and sycamores; know whether that pretty flower in your backyard is actually a noxious invasive; or you just like being outdoors and wish to be versed in nature, Local Flora is for you.

This is an enjoyable, outdoors-based course that will help you to become familiar with the plants of your environment. Rather than a theoretical botany course, these will be very hands-on sessions focused on the identification of plants on campus, natural areas around the Quad Cities, and one of the field stations of the college. Local Flora will sharpen your observation ability and improve your ecological literacy. It will also contribute to make you a well rounded professional if you are interested in biodiversity, natural resources management, forestry, etc.

Local Flora (BIOL225) is a 2-credit summer course taught concurrently with Floristic Methods (BIOL499) for a total of 3 credits. Although it will include lecturing on basic concepts, it will take place mostly in the field, lab and herbarium.

Course goals

After taking Local Flora…

  • You will be able to identify, using the common and the scientific names, more than 120 species of plants of Illinois. The emphasis will be on trees, shrubs and charismatic wildflowers, but we will also cover other plants such as a few ecologically relevant grasses, invasive plants and a few ferns.
  • More importantly, you will gain the skills to become autonomous and be able to identify by yourself any plant you find in the future using the adequate literature (floras and dichotomous keys)
  • You will participate in a citizen science online community (iNaturalist) to help others identify their plants and post your own observations
  • You will become familiar with the different vegetation units of our area
  • You will learn how to prepare and curate herbarium-grade plant specimens
  • You will learn how to write a floristic catalog

Most of the details regarding this course are yet to be determined, in the meantime, do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions, I will post here the FAQ.