Native Plant Field Guide
know that every one of us live in a place that contains native plants
special to just the place we live? The geography, climate, and microclimate
of each special location combine to make a habitat just right for the
plants. Botanical field guides are useful resources for identifying and
learning about your local plants. Creating your own personal or class
guide is a great way to preserve and record botanical history for now
and the future.
Try your hand at making a field guide for the native plants in your area.
Go to your library and find a field guide for plants that includes your
location. Take the guide, your science journal and a hand lens out to
the field. Try identifying some of the more commonly found plants. Once
you have identified some, use your journal to make notes about them.
some things to record for each native plant:
of the plant- both common and scientific
or area where the plant can be found
of the flower
of year it blooms
of the leaves
for the plant
of habitat where it prefers to grow
or signs of insect activity on and near the plant
After you research facts about each native plant, begin to build your
guide. In addition to the facts, draw a picture of each plant.
Take a good look:
or seed heads- are they single or in groups, and what color are they?
–are they opposite or alternate on the stem, smooth or hairy?
courtesy of Archbold Biological
Did you see
any insect or spider activity? Early in the morning when it is cooler
outside is a good time to observe and draw them because they move more
slowly. Add other details to your drawings. You can be very creative about
your representation. Take a look at the example of a Prickly Pear cactus.
If you make a field guide with your classmates, make it into a book. Reproduce
pages to make many copies and let each person color the plants to make
them look real.
1. Why do you suppose plants have 2 different kinds of names- common names
and latin-based scientific names?
2. Plants’ names can tell a story. Some of them are pretty funny.
Can you find some that you find humorous? Why do you think they got those
names? (Examples- Cowslip, Bouncing Betty, Dogwood)
3. Why would insects and spiders move more slowly in cooler temperatures?