Friday, March 14, 2014


Announcement: Registration for the Second Annual Oklahoma Evolution Road Trip is now open at the website for Oklahoma Science Teachers Association. The cost is $95. Depending on enrollment, we may have some money left over for partial refunds for teachers.

The buds are opening and the leaves will be coming out and soon here in Oklahoma. I will be taking my systematic botany class on field trips. In this class, the students learn to recognize 38 plant families and 129 species of trees, shrubs, vines, wildflowers, and grasses. I just want to briefly mention just one reason of many why I am convinced that a class such as this is essential, and why I wish everyone would take a systematic botany class. Fortunately, many of these students have been outside a lot and already know many of the species.

At the very least, people should know how to recognize poison ivy. While this seems to be a simple accomplishment, I have lost count of the number of senior-level conservation majors who cannot do this.

Everyone knows that they should stay away from poison ivy. But people who do not know what poison ivy looks like must be afraid of everything. Not just of every vine, but of every plant. Poison ivy vines can grow in trees, and mix their branches with those of the tree; poison ivy vines can insinuate themselves along the ground and sprout up amidst wildflowers. So if you do not know what poison ivy looks like, you had better not even leave the sidewalk. Maybe, if you don’t learn to recognize poison ivy, it is better to spend sunny spring days inside playing video games.

This would be so, so sad. So, to save yourself from that fate, learn to recognize different species of plants!

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