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Plant identification relies heavily on your ability to recall plant species: correct scientific names, common names, their characteristics, requirements, and care.  We would not be very good landscape designers without this knowledge!  The most challenging exercise in this course is recalling the plants when you need to most, which is during plant identification exams or when your professor asks you to discuss plant specifics.  To help with recall, assignments are designed to apply industry terminology while aiding you with plant familiarity.  Assignments are organized in the following categories:

Online Discussions, Quizzes, and Readings

We engage in online activities within the Canvas platform.  Be sure to set your Canvas settings to receive notifications regarding online discussions, quizzes, and readings.  Online activities are to the discretion of the professor and are usually informal.  This is your opportunity to engage further into landscape architecture.

Field Guide

As a landscape architect, your field guide will be a reference for years to come, particularly if you continue to add to your collection.  Think of your field guide as your go-to reference when designing, because flipping through books or clicking endlessly on websites with plants that do not perform well in California can be an unnecessary rabbit hole when you can look up plants that are already familiar. Plants within a well-presented field guide may also be used to share with your future clients, so they can see what each plant will look like in the design you created. 


What to Do:

Develop a field guide of 60 different species of plants (20 trees, 20 shrubs, and 20 flowers: perennials, succulents, cacti, vines) covered in this course. Your list of plants will include lecture species that your pressor will assign to you, but you will still be short of the required 60 plants; therefore, you will be required to research additional plants to complete your 60 species field guide.  Note: Plants that you choose should have summer and/or autumn interest and require prior approval from your professor.  Do not choose plants that are temporary (ex. annuals and vegetables), or plants that cannot be used in an ornamental landscape.  As a class, we will coordinate the plants of your choosing through Canvas so they do not duplicate your peers’ lists.  This means that students will need to coordinate to ensure that their plants are unique to their individual field guide.  NOTE: Your field guide may become a part of an ongoing campus database of plants, therefore your field guides will be formatted as a PDF file.  We will discuss this in greater detail the first day of class.

Format for Field Guides

Provide one 8.5”x11” (standard letter size) sheet per plant.  Sheet orientation should be consistent (portrait or landscape, choose one). Include the following for each plant:

  • Plant scientific and common names (spelled correctly, using italics or underline for the scientific name and proper capitalization)

  • Plant origin

  • A short statement (approx. three sentences, be creative) describing the use and function of the plant:

    • Examples of vocabulary to include: Screen, barrier, back drop, border, shade, erosion control, ground cover, green stormwater infrastructure, etc.).  Include your personal aesthetic evaluation of the plant, cultural interests, or special interests....make this statement yours!

    • NOTE: This narrative must be your own words; do not copy from your sources, as that is plagiarism.  See Student Conduct Policy for more information.  Plagiarized information will receive no credit.

  • Plant characteristics: This should include detailed information describing plant type and form, then include description of flower, leaf, bark (trees) or stem (shrubs or perennials), and fruit where applicable. 

  • Outstanding feature: Why would someone want this plant in their landscape?  Examples are unique habit, texture, or form; showy flowering, usable fruiting, seasonal summer or autumn interest, etc.

  • A compilation of photos/sketches/pressed samples.  Note: Photo by other sources must include an attribution with the caption, at the bottom of the page, or at the end of your field guide. If photos or sketches are your own, then state, “Photo by author,” or “Sketch by author.”  Include:

    • Overall image of plant

    • Unique feature(s): bark, fruit, flower, etc.  Be sure your photo (or sketch) is very clear and can easily identify the subject plant.

      • (Optional for those of you who have already taken architectural drawing coursework): Sketch scaled plan view of landscape architectural symbol.  Symbols may also be generated with computer graphics applications.

  • Optional pressed leaf or flower samples (this may require a second page for some plant species, depending on size of specimen).  Leaf or flower samples can be mounted, and sheets will need to be scanned as a reproducible file, such as a JPG.  Not optional is including a photo of a flower or fruit as noted above.

  • Get creative!  This field guide is also an expression of your design aesthetics, so presentation is important.  Consider format but also including sketches or photos by you.


Submitting Field Guides

There will be an early review of your field guide draft (sample sheet) to see if you are on the right track. Prior to submitting your field guide, we will be sharing your guides and presenting in class at least 3 of the new plants you researched.  An electronic copy (PDF) or your final field guide will be due toward the end of the semester, and 10 points (out of a possible 100) will be deducted for every day that it is late (weekends included).  We will discuss more details for submitting your field guide via Canvas as the semester progresses.

Recommended Study Guide

While not a graded assignment, flash cards are highly recommended for studying purposes.  Typical flash card formats are the common name with plant sample and/or photo on one side, the botanical name, origin, and characteristics on another.  Past students have observed that this was the most helpful tool for practicing and remembering each plant covered in this course.  You might be able to find an online application such as Quizlet, which some students found helpful.

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