Finding and Collecting in the Field

Overview
Many immigrants to the new world brought familiar plants accidentally as stowaways or deliberately for their transplanted gardens. Now, escaping cultivation and gone wild, some of these new plants are noxious "weeds" and compete with native vegetation. To understand how these species annually cause billions of dollars of damage, choke out native species, and alter the natural landscape, students participate in field studies. They look for and collect invasive plants, record observations, and prepare to disseminate information about them to the community.

For more about this special from
Pay Attention to our Earth!
e-mail Gabriell DeBear Paye, author and AT&T Teacher Disseminator.
Learning Standards
  • Gather scientific information through: observation and experimenting in lab and field, questioning and interviewing, and library work.
  • Classroom Activities
    Using the field guide Cultural Uses of Plants, by Gabriell DeBear Paye, students:
    • Go outside during a season when plants have leaves.
    • Collect seeds and leaves of local invasive plants as well as local native species.
    • Save leaves and flowers for future pressing and preservation; save seeds in plastic bags.
    • Take cuttings of plants for experimenting with classroom germination

    Back in the classroom, students identify and label all specimens, and record their plant and field observations in notebooks. They enter: location and condition of site; details of size, color, density; dominant species in area; plant health; evidence of disease or insect pestsí damage, etc.
    Community Activities
    Students press and laminate plant specimens for their education campaign on identification and control of invasive plants.
    Careers
    Students research qualifications for a Plant Taxonomist, a scientist who collects, names, identifies, and maintains plant collections.
    Materials
    Invasive Plants edited by John Randall and Janet Marinelli, 1996: Brooklyn Botanical Garden; other field guides; press or large book for pressing and drying plants. Ziploc bags for seeds and cuttings, scissors, materials for recording notes and labeling specimens.
    Technology
    Students research the Internet to find out about invasive plants and their effects.
    Assessment
    Students receive grades on: accurate plant identification in the field; labeling of plants; presentation of pressed leaves and flowers.

    Web Sites
    Look up information on invasive plants at: http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/worst.html and http://www.invasivespecies.gov/