Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany

Course No. 9010
Professor Catherine Kleier, Ph.D.
Regis University
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Course No. 9010
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Discover how plants produce their own food.
  • numbers Learn about fascinating plant adaptations.
  • numbers Find out how DNA fingerprinting has changed plant taxonomy.
  • numbers See how plants trick animals into helping them reproduce.

Course Overview

If you look around right now, chances are you’ll see a plant. It could be a succulent in a pot on your desk, grasses or shrubs just outside your door, or trees in a park across the way. Proximity to plants tends to make us happy, even if we don’t notice, offering unique pleasures and satisfactions. And of course without plants, we wouldn’t even be here: Not only do plants produce oxygen, they also produce their own food—the food that directly or indirectly supports us and all animal life on the planet.

In the 24 lectures of Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany, Dr. Catherine Kleier invites us into the uniquely satisfying world of plants, and the joy of celebrating and learning from the secrets of living nature. As Dr. Kleier shares her tremendous depth of knowledge with contagious excitement for her subject—supported by fascinating graphics and in-studio demonstrations—she emphasizes the “stories” of plants themselves: Without neglecting genetics or cell microbiology, or larger ecosystems and habitats, her primary emphasis is always on how plants we see all around us live and adapt. Dr. Kleier shares with you the pleasures of being able to identify and understand the workings of that tree just outside your window – and of any other plant you may encounter.

With almost 400,000 known species and thousands more identified every year, the variety of plant life is almost overwhelming—from the microscopic to the largest organism on Earth. In Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany, you will explore the astonishing adaptations that allow plants to live in an enormous variety of ecosystems, from deserts and the ocean floor to thousands of feet above sea level and on every continent. You will understand why there are no fewer than three kinds of photosynthesis, how the process separates plants from animals, and why many plants rely on symbiosis with bacteria and fungi in conjunction with photosynthetic processes.

See Plants in a New Way. And Another New Way.

Recent scientific research from botany has offered astonishing revelations about the diurnal sleeping and waking cycles of trees. And DNA analysis proves fungi are actually more closely related to humans than to plants. These and many other discoveries illuminate the ways taxonomic identification of plants has changed with the advent of DNA sequencing and other cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, allowing for a greater understanding of the world around us, such as:

  • How scientists, never able to grow lichen in the lab, finally determined that lichen is neither plant nor animal, but a “sandwich” of three distinct organisms
  • How plants, no less than beavers building a dam, are “ecosystem engineers” and capable of protecting their territories
  • Why you rarely see blue plants
  • Why 600 species of plants eat animals for nutrients, while others are outfitted with poison-injecting hairs
  • How some plants can grow to enormous size, like grass that can reach to 130 feet tall and leaves measuring more than 80 feet long, or trees that bear 92-pound fruit
  • The science behind genetically modified organisms and the real issues presented by GMO technology

Botany: Stranger than Fiction

Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany begins with lectures that address shared features of plants, how they resemble and yet differ from humans, and why there are few truly universal rules that govern all plants in exactly the same way. Instead, later lectures reveal how natural selection has allowed plants to adapt to the widest possible range of environments all around the globe. These adaptations have led to plant adaptations so surprising that they almost seem to have sprung directly from science fiction, such as:

  • stone plants with transparent “windows” to let in just the right amount of sunlight
  • leaves that can photosynthesize underground and others that produce antifreeze
  • trees that produce a sought-after waterproofing substance (suberin) that chemists have never been able to duplicate in a lab or even fully describe
  • a plant in which only 5 percent of cells are alive at any given time, which nevertheless creates its own ecosystem and continually modifies its habitat
  • the oldest living individual tree, which began its life near the end of the Neolithic period, more than 5,000 years ago
  • a seed in Siberia that remained viable for 31,800 years before germination
  • a tropical tree (Hura crepitans) that shoots its seeds at speeds up to 150 miles per hour, which also happens to be the maximum speed ever measured in the animal kingdom
  • mushroom fairy rings and how the associated hyphae work to enrich the soil for further fungal growth
  • an 11,000-year-old creosote clone in the Mohave Desert
  • the heaviest, oldest, and largest organism on planet Earth—a 107-acre, 80,000-year-old, 6,600-ton aspen (Populus tremuloides) genet—36 times heavier than the blue whale, the largest modern animal.

While relatively few reproductive methods exist in the animal kingdom, plants have evolved a startling variety of methods for both asexual and sexual reproduction. Many of the most ancient reproductive methods, such as spores, are still successful today and support tens of thousands of species. While other reproductive mechanisms evolved in later periods, each provides unique benefits and challenges. For example, a flowering plant must “figure out” how to move male gametes to the female ovules, so the fertilized ovules can grow into seeds inside the fruit. Given that individual plants are not mobile, how do they accomplish this feat? Explore different aspects of plant reproduction, including:

  • the benefits of sexual vs. asexual reproduction
  • the roles of wind and water in plant reproduction
  • plants that are completely dependent on animals for their reproduction—in some cases only one species of animal
  • the many “tricks” plants use to entice animals into their reproductive process, including those whose flowers look and smell like female insects to lure in males for “mating”
  • “deceit pollination” and why it works
  • how plants recognize and address self-pollination
  • the role hormones play in the reproduction of the squirting cucumber (Ecballium elaterium)

A Passionate Adventure with Plants

Dr. Kleier also introduces fascinating questions botanists are still working to answer. We know plants can sense and respond to their environments, but can they remember their experiences? We know plants communicate to others in their vicinity via chemical signals, but is it also possible some plants have evolved an ability to detect sound waves? We know certain plants respond to touch, but can they be conditioned to “learn” when it is unnecessary to respond? And perhaps the most basic of questions: what exactly is a species? Now that scientists have access to genetic techniques such as DNA fingerprinting, it is relatively easy to find different alleles for different genes. But how many different alleles does it take to identify a new species? It’s an ongoing and exciting debate in the ever-changing world of botany.

Botanists are constantly examining and evaluating the natural world, and Dr. Kleier is passionate about working in the field and observing plants as they exist in their many habitats and varieties, a passion that comes through in every lecture as she teaches you how to do the same. As presented in this course, botany is a science rooted in experience with plants, a vibrant set of encounters that breathe life even into the plant diagrams and long scientific names of traditional biology.

Learn to see the world around you afresh as you read the stories of plant life for yourself with a professor who transforms science into an adventure.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    The Joy of Botany
    Although almost every child knows the difference between an elephant and a giraffe, few people of any age can name the plants they see out their window every single day. Solve this plant blindness" by learning about the fascinating lifeforms to whom we owe so much: oxygen, food, medicine, materials-but also fascination and joy." x
  • 2
    Plants Are like People
    Although our biology is significantly different than that of plants, scientists are discovering more and more similarities. We share quite a bit of DNA, thrive in moderate temperatures, have a circadian rhythm of rest and activity, require water for life, and can sense our environment and respond. Some scientists suggest that plants might even have developed a type of hearing."" x
  • 3
    Moss Sex and Peat's Engineered Habitat
    More than 425 million years ago, a group of plants called bryophytes developed two special adaptations that allowed them to inhabit dry land. Why are these early plants still so important today, both environmentally and commercially? And how does one of these most ancient species engineer its own habitat to the exclusion of more modern competitors? x
  • 4
    Fern Spores and the Vascular Conquest of Land
    Botanists still struggle to unravel the full evolutionary history of ferns, hardy plants of staggering reproductive and colonization power. With billions of lightweight spores produced by each individual and the vasculature to transport nutrients throughout the plant, ferns are found in low-light and bright-light environments from the arctic regions to the tropics. x
  • 5
    Roots and Symbiosis with Non-Plants
    Photosynthesis might be the star," but what takes place under the soil is just as imperative for plant survival. In fact, the root is so important that it's the first evidence of germination in the seed. Learn how roots physically support the plant, absorb water and minerals, and store carbohydrates, almost always relying on symbiosis with bacteria and fungi." x
  • 6
    Stems Are More Than Just the In-Between
    Learn how the pressure flow hypothesis models the movement of sugars through the plant's phloem and xylem, and what plant structures determine whether the organism will grow in height, girth, or both. And while the stem functions to support the plant's branches and leaves, in some plants the stem is also the site of photosynthesis. x
  • 7
    The Leaf as a Biochemical Factory
    Plants "know" when to shed their leaves or grow new ones via the same mechanism that causes the many developmental changes in our own bodies: hormones. Learn about the hormones that affect leaf growth and abscission -- and the role played by Charles Darwin in their discovery. x
  • 8
    Photosynthesis Everyone Should Understand
    Green plants generate their mass-whether the mass of the smallest blade of grass or the tallest tree on Earth-by synthesizing food from carbon dioxide and water via the energy from sunlight with the help of appropriate enzymes. See how the fascinating details of photosynthesis separate the plants from the animals. x
  • 9
    Days and Years in the Lives of Plants
    How do plants "choose" the best time to flower? Do they sense the daylight hours becoming longer in the springtime? Or do they sense the nights becoming shorter? Learn which pigments interact with sunlight to serve as chemical clocks for flowering plants and what roles are played by messenger RNA and temperature-including their part in climate change. x
  • 10
    Advent of Seeds: Cycads and Ginkgoes
    While spores have continued to provide effective reproduction through the millennia, evolution has led to several successful alternatives. In a little package of embryonic roots, stems, leaves, and nourishment, a seed offers the ability to lie dormant until conditions are right for the highest chance of survival. Learn about the unique properties of the cycads, gingkos, and gnetophytes. x
  • 11
    Why Conifers Are Holiday Plants
    Meet the conifers, well-adapted to snow, wind, fire, and low-nutrient soils. Learn how the unique properties of conifers allow them to claim the largest forest on Earth, the oldest living tree, and the tallest plant-with a growth rate of up to six feet per year. Conifers are also the source of one of the most prescribed cancer drugs on the market. x
  • 12
    Secrets of Flower Power
    Flowering plants arrived relatively late in geological time, between 290 to 145 million years ago. But once here, they evolved quickly and often displaced many other types of plants. In fact, in terms of species, flowering plants are the dominant plant form on Earth today with more than 300,000 types. Learn how their unique reproductive mechanisms led to this explosion of speciation in such a relatively short time. x
  • 13
    The Coevolution of Who Pollinates Whom
    Which came first-the pollen or the pollinator? Learn about the special evolutionary relationship between specific flowers and the insects, birds, and mammals that play a necessary role in plant reproduction. The flowers' morphology, color, and quality and quantity of scent are all related to their" animals' body shape, sense organs, method of movement, and more in this never-ending co-evolutionary tango." x
  • 14
    The Many Forms of Fruit: Tomatoes to Peanuts
    If you think you know the difference between a fruit, a nut, and a fungus-think again. Learn the real difference between nuts, fruits, and seeds, and why so many foods we eat carry misleading common names. As for those beautiful and tasty fungi, you might be surprised to find out they have more in common with you than with plants! x
  • 15
    Plant Seeds Get Around
    The evolution of the seed was a major advantage for land plants. But unlike gymnosperms, the flowering plants produce a fruit around that seed, aiding in germination, dispersal, or both. Learn about the many fascinating ways seeds are dispersed-from animal deposition, to wind and water dispersal, to seed explosion. x
  • 16
    Water Plants Came from Land
    Learn how seagrasses, mangroves, and other aquatic plants evolved to tolerate low light levels, anaerobic and nutrient-poor sediments, and the difficulty of getting CO2 into submerged leaves and stems. They also benefit surrounding ecosystems by keeping excess nutrients from the ocean, trapping river and ocean-floor sediments, and providing habitat and protection for animals. x
  • 17
    Why the Tropics Have So Many Plant Species
    From the shade-adapted plants living on the rainforest floor to the epiphytes in the top of the canopy-and the myriad plants and animals in between-tropical regions are the most diverse ecosystems on land. In fact, by some estimates, about 40 percent of all plants live in just the canopy of the tropical rainforest. Learn about the unique ways in which bromeliads, orchids, and lianas, among others, make their living" near the top of this diverse ecosystem." x
  • 18
    The Complexity of Grasses and Grasslands
    The grassland ecosystem-steppe, prairie, savanna, and rangeland-is found on every continent except Antarctica. Estimated to cover almost one-third of the land area of the planet, grasses developed unusual adaptations related to the location of their growth tissue and their specific mechanism of photosynthesis. Learn how these adaptations have allowed grasses to flourish and play a major role in the development of human society. x
  • 19
    Shrublands of Roses and Wine
    Not an herb and not a tree, shrubs' in-between status carries ecological advantages allowing them to grow almost everywhere-in the under-story of forests, above the tree line in alpine regions, and in the desert. Many are fire-adapted, some communicate through volatile organic compounds released by the leaves, and others exude chemicals from their roots that prevent other plants from growing nearby. x
  • 20
    The Desert Bonanza of Plant Shapes
    From tiny desert annuals, to 200-year-old 50-foot Saguaros, Joshua trees, and the baobab, deserts contain the largest variety of plant shapes on earth. Along with these multiple morphological adaptations to a lack of water, desert plants have also developed an alternative pathway to photosynthesis, opening their stomata at night, storing the CO2, and using it during the day with closed stomata, thereby avoiding daytime water loss. x
  • 21
    How Temperate Trees Change Color and Grow
    Trees-the largest, oldest, and tallest organisms on planet Earth-are a wonderful example of convergent evolution, with the form showing up in hundreds of unrelated plant families. While many trees are evergreen and others are drought deciduous, temperate trees lose their leaves in the winter because the trade-off of keeping a leaf from freezing doesn't offset the photosynthetic gain. But even after the leaves turn color and drop, the tree roots of some trees can still forage through the soil for nutrients. x
  • 22
    Alpine Cold Makes Plants Do Funny Things
    Alpine plants face a short growing season, freezing nights almost year-round, extraordinarily high light levels on cloudless days, fierce wind, and severe lack of moisture in some locations. Learn how the unique rosette and cushion morphologies allow alpine plants to thrive in this environment-as well as provide a sheltered place for other plants to germinate-and how heliotropism aids in pollination. x
  • 23
    Bad Plants Aren't So Bad
    About 600 species of plants eat animals. Others are outfitted with poison-injecting hairs you do not want to trigger. One plant provides a home for ants-a wonderful symbiosis, but not great for the animals who stroll by and take a bite. And then there are the everyday" poison oak, ivy, and sumac. But the real plants to fear? The invasive species that have taken over millions of acres, to the detriment of species diversity, animal habitat, and entire economic systems." x
  • 24
    Modifying the Genes of Plants
    Genetically modified organisms are in the news almost every day. They are lauded for solving numerous agricultural problems and reviled for their perceived Frankenstein" nature. But what is the truth about GMOs? Learn what scientists have accomplished, what might be possible in the future, and the very real dilemmas we face in this brave new world of plant science." x

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  • 214-page printed course guidebook
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Your professor

Catherine Kleier

About Your Professor

Catherine Kleier, Ph.D.
Regis University
Dr. Catherine Kleier is a Professor of Biology and former chair of the Department of Biology at Regis University in Denver, Colorado. Professor Kleier holds a Ph.D. in Organismic Biology, Ecology, and Evolution from the University of California, Los Angeles. She also holds an M.S. in General Science with an emphasis in botany and plant pathology from Oregon State University and a B.A. in Ecology, Population, and Organismic...
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Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 113.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really interesting lectures These lectures are great and very entertaining. I love plants and I think botany is rather underrated. Catherine is a really good speaker and is very friendly, and none of it is boring at all.
Date published: 2018-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fascinating botany course thorough course on botany with some science that reminded me of my freshman biology course. Very engaging professor. Explains what we see and experience in the world around us
Date published: 2018-04-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Botany An Introduction to Botany helped me understand plants in depth. I found the lectures entertaining and engaging. Sometimes the teacher did go into great detail but still made it interesting, not dry like an old textbook. The instructor had a good sense of humor and wit and kept a good pace in the lectures. I recommend this course to anyone interested in learning more about Botany. It's both challenging and satisfying, one of the best Great Courses I own!
Date published: 2018-04-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Knowledge Gained While Enjoying Engaging Professor I found this course to be very informative and entertaining. Professor Kleier seems to have a knack for engaging students with her charm wit. I learned a great deal through her "down home" teaching style. I have owned and operated a bamboo nursery/farm for many years and was pleased to have new information to help me understand better how to react and interact with my bamboo plants. I highly recommend this course for anyone at any level of botany interest. I have purchased around 120 courses from The Great Courses and this one is in my top 10 favorites.
Date published: 2018-03-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from good Title This is valuable for me because I am a master gardener in CA
Date published: 2018-03-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Before you buy I bought this course to help me in my Master Gardener course study. I am an engineer by education and I found this course difficult to follow. So it is not quite an introduction to the subject.The lecturer sometimes goes very fast and the words are not always clear to understand. I expected to find more diagrams, pictures, and charts to simplify the topics. If you have a good background in botany or biology, it will do.
Date published: 2018-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The title is what I expected, a good short survey. As a long time chemist, the plant world was new to me. This enthusiastic instructor is one of your best. Her reviews of the chemical reactions in plants was very good. As a gardener, I found this course to be well worth having. Thank you.
Date published: 2018-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Most Enthusiastic Professor Ever This course was enjoyable on many levels. I had never formally studied botany and was surprised by how much I learned about the world of plants. Although I'm an avid gardener, I found that the science of botany includes many scientific disciplines. The illustrations and videos in the course are tremendous and best of all, the professor is a masterful teacher with loads of enthusiasm. The puns in the lectures brought a smile to my face. Learning about her dissertation and research was very interesting, and the course was presented with information on the graduate level of study. I looked forward to every lecture. I hope that professor Kleier will teach more Great Courses. She sparked my interest in genetics, so I'll be ordering a course in genetics soon. I highly recommend this wonderful course!
Date published: 2018-01-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Introduction to Botany Golly Gee Willikers! How much corn pone is enough? With the extravagant gesticulations, I'm surprised the presenter didn't start flying around the room. With a presentation that seems to be an unholy union between a shopping cart with a bad wheel and a pachinko ball, it was hard to keep focused. Not a mention of Lithops in "THE DESERT BONANZA OF PLANT SHAPES" or Giant Hogweed in "BAD PLANTS AREN’T SO BAD" was disappointing. There is a difference between being complicated and being chaotic.
Date published: 2018-01-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This course was everything I needed to understand the plant life in my garden and more. It motivated me to seek out more information on topics I found important, using it's references. Although, too basic in some areas it is challenging overall.
Date published: 2018-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye Opener on Plants Up front I love science, but was not excited about botany. How interesting can plants be? Well it turns out with this professor very interesting. For one I learned many of the names we give plants are not accurate. For example strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are not berries, but tomatoes and bananas are! A lot of information packed in 24 lectures.
Date published: 2017-12-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lives up to title. It is very useful to have general courses like this. I found myself wondering how this information is exploited by farmers? I hope Teaching Company will offer courses on agriculture and agricultural economics in the future. I respect farmers!
Date published: 2017-12-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Give Her Some Pockets! The lecturer is enthusiastic and very bright. But she is unable to talk without wild hand gestures... making the lectures very distracting. This was really too bad. After watching the first few lectures, I just couldn't stand it anymore. I turned the video off and just listened to the audio. This really takes away from the content of the courses since there are many graphics. But one gets dizzy trying to watch this lecturer.
Date published: 2017-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Botany brought to life I bought this course because I am studying science and thinking of majoring in botany, and I am so glad I did. At university one sees a great variety of lecturers and styles and it is such a pleasure to see a teacher so in love with her subject and able to impart it in an enthusiastic and interesting way. As an accompaniment to what I learn at uni it has been invaluable, and I found that all the really important nerdy stuff was covered and explained in a simple direct way that only comes from someone who knows their stuff. Along the way she includes anecdotes and interesting snippets so that it never gets boring, and includes the names and references so that one can follow up and do more research on the topics mentioned. I loved it; I learned a lot and I even liked the puns!
Date published: 2017-11-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good introduction to Botany This was a very good course. The teacher is enthusiastic about the subject and it is hard not to be too. The presentation was logical and systematic but dare I say fun at the same time. We have science backgrounds and wanted to learn more about botany, a subject that I think we have taken for granted. The teacher delivered. As chemists, we only wish there were more structures shown of some of the important molecules, but that may just be our backgrounds.
Date published: 2017-11-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She did a great job! Her style is very dynamic and engaging, and the topics are loaded with fun facts and hilarious anecdotes. Her puns are sooo silly haha but it makes you love her even more. Overall, I did learn the basics of botany, which is what I wanted, and mostly had fun, but I have to admit that I fell asleep through a couple of episodes, mostly when she got high on very specific or technical information. Not her fault though.
Date published: 2017-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So interesting I watched this using my great courses app and fell in love. Put it on my wish list and waited till I could get it. Now that I purchased it I'm listening to it for the second time (making it my 3rd round). It is always interesting and I pick up something new constantly. The same is true for the math and science courses. The professor is engaging, knowledgeable, and fun to boot. So happy I got this I've always been a nature girl but this course greatly expanded my appreciation .
Date published: 2017-11-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A new eye for seeing` Very interesting to learn the whys and ways of the plant world. Changes nature observations and increases awareness of plant survival in the world..
Date published: 2017-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High energy and fun presentation Thoughtful talks that are made fun and interesting.
Date published: 2017-10-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointed The course obviously is well received by most people, and I respect their conclusions. It just did not work well for me. The largest problem was the lack of structure within individual lectures. Also, the names of phyla, families and the like are important, no question about it. But I thought there was a little too much of this given the objectives I had for the course, which centered on getting a good overview of botany. If I wanted to use this a supplement or refresher for a university botany course, it would have worked better. Also, the graphics were a little underwhelming. Many still photographs, and a few illustrations. More illustrations would have helped. A few animations would have been fantastic. On the plus side, the professor has an engaging style and is enthusiastic.
Date published: 2017-10-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mostly excellent Most sessions are excellent! The one on flowers is OUTSTANDING! The one on photosynthesis requires some background in biochemistry to understand it. Overall very informative AND entertaining.
Date published: 2017-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great biology My wife and I watched this course together and enjoyed every lecture. The professor had a great delivery and enthusiasm and was clear in her presentation. (I do not share her fondness for puns but my wife liked them). She covered a huge amount of modern cell biology and biochemistry as well as the expected evolution and taxonomy. Our only difficulties were with the two heavily biochemical lectures but they are important topics so she was wise to include them. The second half of the course explaining how plants adapt to various environments was particularly enjoyable. Highly recommended. Would only do this as video since there are so many pictures and illustrations.
Date published: 2017-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Comprehensive I'm a scientist so I seldom buy Great Courses science offerings -- no math and lacking rigor. But Botany? I decided to give it a try and am glad that I did. The course was quite interesting and thorough. Despite both being constructed of living cells, plant cells behave much differently than animal cells. So this course should be worthwhile even for Biology students...
Date published: 2017-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Borany I have thoroughly enjoyed this course. It seems like with age I have an unending thirst for knowledge and this course has fit right in with what I wanted to cover!
Date published: 2017-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating The teacher is very enthusiastic about the subject and makes it interesting to everyone. The examples and pictures used are excellent. I already knew that I loved plants. Now I want to go out and experience some of the really odd ones. I want to get up close to pitcher plants and make friends with ferns and mosses.
Date published: 2017-09-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Course I am a retired Chemist and got into gardening several years ago. I took this course to learn more scientifically about plants. I did find that some of the chemical information given was very shaky! In the section on photosynthesis she talked about "Phosphate Atoms" but Phosphate is a molecule Phosphorous is the atom, also she said that the mass of a plant came from something that had no weight, but in reality Carbon Dioxide and Water (the primary constituents of plant mass) both have weight. In the section on leaf color change in fall she talked about Witch Hazel's yellow color and showed a picture of a Witch Hazel's yellow flower which opens in fall and gives the plant it's golden yellow Glow. I would have liked to hear what clues cause plants to break dormancy in spring/early summer.I also would have liked to hear how dark leaved plants perform photosynthesis and also how Daylilies know when a day has passed.
Date published: 2017-08-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very informant course presented with humor. As a retired Nurse and knowing Anatomy & Physiology being baseline knowable needed, Plant Science is the base fore all gardeners who want to succeed. The instructor has a great sense of humor that captures ones attention and this course when completed will let a person understand what and why they are doing no matter the size of garden they have or the house plants they want.
Date published: 2017-08-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fascinating, but more structure would have helped! While this course covers fascinating material and was taught by a personable professor, I must also dissent a bit from the rave reviews it has received. BGZRedux’s “Random Walk” description nicely describes my chief criticism as well: this course is poorly organized. While the lecture outline appears to offer a reasonable structure, once each lecture starts, we usually have no idea where we will be in the next moment. It can be hard to figure out why certain topics were chosen or why certain subtopics are awarded ample time while others skimmed over. In a split second, Professor Kleier can transition from easy going anecdotes to rapid fire definitions of technical botanical terms (many of which are often never used again, leaving us to wonder why she bothered). At times the lectures appear to be more of a stream of “fun facts” about the topic rather than a coherent overview. A secondary criticism is that the video/photo overlays occasionally seemed out of place. Some overlays were just a bit laughable - the professor changes topics from bee pollinators to butterfly pollinators just as a video overlay with bees starts. However, other overlays were inaccurate or confusing. For example, a video overlay focused on the flowers of the bladderwort while the professor discussed the bladderwort’s carnivery, the structures for which, you find out, are not in the flowers at all. Lack of care in video/photo editing also appeared to be evident in a still picture of chromosomes with a mysterious timer in the corner and a photo of a nice mountain (perhaps Oregon’s Mt. Washington?) that was certainly not the Mt. Washington in New Hampshire that Professor Kleier was describing. On balance, I did learn from the course and it kept my attention - hence the three star rating. However, I think the Teaching Company missed an opportunity to create a deeper learning experience in a truly fascinating topic.
Date published: 2017-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating but a bit technical for the novice Botany is a whole new world for me and I am enjoying the course immensely, although I will have to go through the lectures a second time as the technical terms and processes are coming at me fast and furiously. The professor's enthusiasm and knowledge are apparent and impressive. Like other reviewers, the corny, silly jokes are unnecessary and impede the flow of the lectures. It is absolutely astonishing to learn what goes on in the world of plants!
Date published: 2017-08-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Random Walk Through a Fascinating Field This is a worthwhile introduction to botany, a field about which I knew next to nothing. A huge amount of material is covered in only 24 lectures, including plants' appearance, classification, habitats, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, communication, interactions with other organisms - both plant and animal - and usefulness to humans. Much of this is fascinating and, to a neophyte like me, much was remarkable and unexpected. ('Neophyte', by the way, means 'newly planted.') And the final lecture is an excellent and admirably balanced presentation of the advantages and potential risks of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Unlike every other reviewer, however, I do have some significant criticisms of the course. Most importantly, I found it poorly organized. Lectures were never preceded by an overview of where we would be going, and almost no summary comments were provided at their ends. The pattern of topics within each lecture was similarly unstructured, almost a stream-of-consciousness approach, with one fact giving way to another based on random associations rather than a coherent plan. And, while Professor Kleier's enthusiasm for her field is wonderful, the unrelenting and unmodulated energy of her speech, with each sentence emphasized alike, made it difficult for me to keep focused. With respect, I could also have done without the constant flow of puns and giggling. (I do realize I seem to be the only reviewer who had these issues, but for me this significantly detracted from the course.) Despite these concerns, I absolutely recommend this course for anyone with an interest in the area, but little prior knowledge. It serves its introductory function well.
Date published: 2017-07-24
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