Plants surround us and are an important part of our lives. One of the first questions people generally ask when seeing a plant is: "What is the name of that plant?" This activity introduces you to the process scientists use to figure out the name of a plant (identification) and how the plant is related to other plants (classification).
To learn more about identifying plants, read Plant Identification, from the American Museum of Natural History. Answer these questions after reading the article. (You can write answers to these questions on the Identification and Classification of Grassland Plants student sheet.) Be ready to share your answers with your classmates.
- What does a botanist study?
- Why is identification of organisms important in biology?
- How does using a field guide help to identify plants?
- What tools should you use when identifying plants in the field?
Now watch the Identification and Classification of Grassland Plants video (see player above). This video will introduce you to sand prairies, which are a type of grassland ecosystem. The video specifically focuses on those in and around La Crosse, Wisconsin. Answer these questions about the video. Be prepared to discuss the answers with your classmates.
- Why are prairies rare? How has the decline of prairies affected the plants, animals, and other organisms in the prairie?
- Name the main structures of plants that you should look at in order to identify them.
- What tools should you use when identifying plants in the field? Why?
- Why is it important to photograph a plant rather than pick it?
- What are classification systems used for?
- How is the scientific name of an organism different from the common name?
- Which is a scientific name? Which is a common name?
- Tradescantia ohiensis
- Lead Plant
- Purple Prairie Clover
- Amorpha canescens
- Petalostemum purpereum
This esheet is a part of the Identification and Classification of Grassland Plants lesson.