Plant Biology / Plant Sciences 102: California Floristics
Guide to the Course, Spring 2012


The Staff


Dan Potter (, 754-6141, 2041 Wickson Hall.
Office hours: by appointment.

Teaching Assistants: Daniel Park (, 2039 Wickson Hall
Jorge Pérez-Zabala (, 2039 Wickson Hall
Class Schedule

Lecture: Tues/Thurs12:10-13:00 (Wellman 1)
Laboratory: Tues 13:40-18:30 (Sci. Labs Building 3067 and 3075)


Subject Matter

In California Floristics, we study the native and naturalized species of vascular plants in California. In general, the lectures will emphasize the identification, important characters, classification, and phylogeny of common families and genera of vascular plants, as well as some special topics related to the flora of California. The laboratories will allow you ample time to dissect plants and examine their differences. You will become familiar with how to use identification keys and will be expected to know many common families and genera by sight.

Course Format

This is a 5-unit course with 2 hours of lecture and 1 laboratory session (5 hours) per week. Each student is expected to go on two of the weekend field trips (see Schedule for dates).
Lecture:   Lab:
Midterm I 50 pts.      
Midterm II 50 pts.   6 quizzes (30 pts each; lowest score dropped) 150 pts.
Lecture Final 100 pts.   Lab Final 150 pts.
Total 200 pts.   Total 300 pts.
Grand Total: 500 pts
Exams and Quizzes
The three lecture examinations cover all aspects of the course (lectures, laboratories, and field trips); questions will be in the form of multiple choice, matching, completion, diagrams, or essay. The midterms are on Thursday, April 26 and Thursday, May 17. The final is on Wednesday June 13 from 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM in our lecture room.

The lab quizzes and final will include keying unknown plants, sight recognition of selected taxa, and identification of plant structures. There are six lab quizzes, 30 points each, and your lowest score will be dropped. There are no make-up quizzes and the coverage is cumulative. The lab final is on Tuesday, June 5 during normal lab time.

Readings and Internet Resources

Required Text Book: Baldwin, B. et al., editors. 2012. The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. Second Edition. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Recommended (Optional) Text Book: Judd, W. et al. 2008. Plant Systematics, A Phylogenetic Approach. Third Edition. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Mass.

Laboratory Exercises, Supplementary Readings and Information, as well as Course Information, Lectures, Review Questions, and Grades, will be posted to the course SmartSite.

An electronic version of the lab manual, with links to images of the structures described, is available here.

You are expected to bring the Jepson Manual and the required lab write-ups, in hard copy or electronic form, with you to each lab.

Additional useful resources include the following:
Jepson Flora Project Website:
On-line quizzes available at:
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website:

Of course, the best review for learning families and genera is to see them in the field. The native plant section of the Arboretum along Putah Creek has specimens of a considerable number of the plants that will be on the sight recognition exam. Therefore, you can review plants by walking along the creek. You may also review specimens in the UC Davis Herbarium in 1026 Sciences Laboratory Building.

Equipment Needed for the Laboratories
Other than the required readings, you will need very little equipment for the laboratory. You will need: a centimeter ruler, a package of single-edge razor blades, dissecting needles, a sharp forceps, pencils, and eraser. You will need a lab-book or index cards. A good 10X hand lens is a necessity for examining plants in the field (available at the bookstore).

In the laboratory, it is often helpful to draw floral diagrams or write floral formulas as explained in the reader. You must keep a record of your observations in the form of floral formulas, diagrams, or sketches. Some students in past years have taped plant samples to index cards; this may be done only if plant material is plentiful and only at the end of the laboratory period.

Field Trips

Each student is expected to attend at least two weekend field trips during the quarter (see Schedule for dates). Trips begin promptly at 8:00 a.m. from Fleet Services; vans will not wait for late-comers. Vehicles will return by 6:00 p.m., subject to the vagaries of the weather and traffic. You should bring lunch and plenty of liquids, wear long pants and sturdy covered shoes (a hat and sunscreen are recommended), and know what poison oak looks like. A light long-sleeved shirt is recommended to cover your upper body.

Optional 1-unit Plant Collecting Project

For students interested in hands-on experience with making a plant collection, and a chance to further hone your keying skills, Dr. Ellen Dean (Curator of the UC Davis Herbarium) will coordinate a one-unit collecting project. You can register for this under PLS 198-068 (CRN 87694).