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recommended lab equipment

Why collect plant samples?  This is a question students often ask, in part because today we become accustomed to relying upon photos for just about everything.  There are, however, fundamental problems with relying exclusively on photos.  Firstly, photos are only two dimensional making plants difficult to understand their form, texture, and structures that might be hiding behind leaves and flowers.  Believe it or not, plants can look a lot alike in photos, so the alternative to see plants in real time in order to understand their sometimes subtle differences.  Having real samples, looking at plant behavior in the real world, touching, smelling, and tasting if appropriate, can boost our senses to recall how we identify plants.  This will be critical when studying for exams.

The photos above were taken from live samples I collected.  The very act of snipping, feeling, smelling, and arranging samples for a photo contributes greatly to my memorization of a particular plant.  Collecting and documenting is a great way to expand a collection as a reference material for your designs.


Students should collect plant samples on campus wherever for individual field guides and study materials wherever feasible.  Having samples documented in your field guides can add points to your presentation (see assignments).  Note: Do not take plant samples from people’s yards, public areas, or nurseries without the expressed approval of the owner.  These items are not required and can be shared with your classmates, but they will make studying easier throughout this course.​​​​

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