Introductory Plant Biology 11 Revised Edition
Recently a botanical colleague of mine was contacted by the police to see if she could help them solve a crime. A young woman had disappeared and there was reason to suspect foul play involving a male acquaintance of hers. The police had found tiny bits of plant material in the man’s car, and asked if my colleague could identify them. She was able not only to identify two or three different plants, but also knew where that particular association of plants grew. She took the police to the area, and within 20 minutes they found the woman’s body. The man was subsequently charged with and convicted of murder.
The field of forensics sometimes uses microscopic bits of plant material to help solve crimes, but in addition to forensics, botany today plays a special role in many interests of both major and nonmajor students. For example, in this text topics such as global warming, ozone layer depletion, acid rain, genetic engineering, organic gardening, Native American and pioneer uses of plants, pollution and recycling, houseplants, backyard vegetable gardening, natural dye plants, poisonous and hallucinogenic plants, nutritional values of edible plants, and many other topics are discussed. To intelligently pursue such topics one needs to understand how plants are constructed, and how they function. To this end the text assumes little prior knowledge of the sciences on the part of the student, but covers basic botany, without excessively resorting to technical terms. The coverage, however, includes sufficient depth to prepare students to go farther in the field, should they choose to do so.
The text is arranged so that certain sections can be omitted in shorter courses. Such sections may include topics such as, “Soils,” “Molecular Genetics,” “Phylum Psilotophyta,” etc. Because botany instructors vary greatly in their opinions about the depth of coverage needed for photosynthesis and respiration in an introductory botany course open to both majors and nonmajors, the topics are presented at three different levels. Some instructors will find one or two levels sufficient, whereas others will want to include all three.
I have found that both majors in botany and nonmajors who may initially be disinterested in the subject matter of a required course, frequently become engrossed if the material is related repeatedly to their popular interests. This is reflected, as intimated above, in the considerable amount of ecology and ethnobotany included with traditional botany throughout the book.
“I reviewed one of the leading competitor’s textbooks for this course and still feel that Stern is outstanding for the course we teach. The relatively short chapters and the ease of reading make this an excellent book for introductory botany.”
Kathleen Wood, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
ORGANIZATION OF THE TEXT
A relatively conventional sequence of botanical subjects is followed. Chapters 1 and 2 cover introductory and background information; Chapters 3 through 11 deal with structure and function; Chapters 12 and 13 introduce meiosis and genetics. Chapter 14 discusses plant propagation and biotechnology; Chapter 15 introduces evolution; Chapter 16 deals with classification; Chapters 17 through 23 stress, in phylogenetic sequence, the diversity of organisms traditionally regarded as plants, and Chapter 24 deals with ethnobotanical aspects and other information of general interest pertaining to sixteen major plant families or groups of families. Chapters 25 and 26 present an overview of the vast topic of ecology, although ecological topics and applied botany are included in the preceding chapters as well. Some of these topics are broached in anecdotes that introduce the chapters, while others are mentioned in the ecological review summaries, in the human and ecological review sections, and in the extensive appendices.
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