Course CodeBSC104
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn about plant physiology and taxonomy, including general botany, morphology and anatomy. A suitable course for anyone working with plants, including horticulturalists, agriculturalists, environmental managers and plant scientists.

  • Discover Botany under the guidance of an international team of outstanding tutors.
  • Learn about plants in a 'hands-on' way by conducting your own experiments.
  • Study Botany as a foundation for jobs in:
        - Horticulture, Gardening, Landscaping, Parks
        - Crop Production, Farming
        - Environmental assessment and management
        - Ecotourism, Scientific Research, Teaching, Writing and Media


Lesson Structure

  1. Taxonomic Classification of Plants
    • Plant Taxonomy - Botanical/Horticultural Nomenclature, The Binomial System, Botanical Classification, Plant Families and Species, Hybrids, Varieties and Cultivars
    • Botanical Keys - How to use a botanical key, Key to Plant Groups, Key to Plant Phyla
  2. Cells and Tissues
    • Plant Cells - types of plant cells
    • Plant Tissues - Primary and Secondary Growth
  3. Specific Vegetative Parts of a Plant
    • Stems - Stem Forms
    • Leaves - Leaf Structure and Arrangement
    • Roots - Root Structure (tap root, adventitious roots)
    • Common Botanical Terms
  4. Flowers and Fruit
    • The flower - inflorescence (panicle, umbel, composite head)
    • Fruits - Simple, Aggregate, Multiple
    • Reproductive Growth and Development - pollination, fertilisation, fruit setting
  5. Seed and the Developing Embryo
    • Seed Structure - Seed Coats, Food Storage Organs, Embryo
    • Seed Germination - Germination Requirements, Stimulation, Inhibition
    • Propagation of Plants
  6. Photosynthesis and Growing Plants
    • Photosynthesis - the Photosynthetic Apparatus, Light transformation into energy, the Photosynthetic process, Gas Exchange with the Atmosphere
  7. Respiration
    • Stages of Respiration - the Krebs Cycle, Electron Transport Chain
    • Rate of Respiration
  8. The Role of Water
    • Osmosis
    • Water Movement from Soil to Root - Development of Root Pressure
    • The Transpiration Stream - Transpiration and Environmental Conditions
  9. Movement of Water and Assimilates through a Plant
    • Mechanisms of Nutrient Uptake
    • Absorption and Transport of Mineral Nutrients
    • Translocation of Sugars
    • Adaptations for Water Storage
    • Food and Water Storage Organs
  10. The Effects of Tropisms and Other Growth Movements
    • Plant Hormones
    • Tropisms - Phototropism, Geotropism, Thigmotropism, Other Growth Movements
    • Chemical Growth Modifications


  • Understand the relationship between the scientific principles of this unit and horticultural practices
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the Plant Kingdom and understanding of the taxonomic hierarchy
  • Identify and describe the different types of plant cells and tissues, their structure and function
  • Determine the role and function of specific vegetative parts of the plant
  • Determine the role and function of the reproductive parts of the plant
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role and function of the seed in the life cycle of the plant
  • Explain the mechanism and the role of photosynthesis in the metabolism of plants and relate to plant growth in controlled environments
  • Explain the mechanism and the role of respiration in the metabolism of plants
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the role of water in the plant
  • Review the movement of water, solutes and assimilates through the plant
  • Understand the effects of tropisms and other plant movements on growth and development
  • Undertake risk assessments relevant to the learning outcomes in this course

Do You Know the Language of Plants?

Alternate      Leaves or phyllodes arranged in two rows up either side of the stem, but two leaves do not occur directly opposite each other at the same point on the stem.

Axil           The angle between the phyllode and the stem

Bipinnate      A compound leaf twice divided (like a fern leaf in general appearance).

Bract          A small leaf like structure at the base of the flower stalk.

Calyx          The outer ring of the flower (sepals are in this group)

Chlorophyll The green plant pigment in plant chloroplasts.

Chloroplast The organelle in plant cells in which photosynthesis occurs

Corolla        The inner ring of the flower (includes the petals).

Decurrent      Where the bottom of the phyllode continues down the stem as a raised line, ridge or sheath.

Gland          A projection or insertion on the phyllode margin, nerve or stalks.

Glabrous Smooth, without hairs or protrusions

Glaucous Covered with a whitish fur like layer.

Hypocotyl The section of a seedling located between the roots and the place of attachment of the cotyledons

Lamina  The leaf blade.

Leaflets       The smallest leaf like structures which are part of a bipinnate leaf.

Linear         Long, narrow relatively straight sided.

Lobes          Partial division of part of a leaf or phyllode.

Meristem A plant part in which cells are actively dividing.

Node           Point at which the leaves or phyllodes arise.

Oblique        Uneven or off centred, not symmetrical shape.

Oblong         Longer than it is broad, but more or less straight sided leaf or phyllode.

Panicle        A flowering branch containing several racemes.

Penniveins Feather like veins

Phyllode A leaf with a much reduced or absent lamina, where the petiole and rachis have assumed the functions of the whole leaf.

Pistil  The female part of a flower.

Pubescent   Soft hairy coating

Pungent        Sharp and pointed

Recurved   Bent or curved backwards

Reflexed       Bent sharply backwards or downwards

Resinous       Sticky, having resinous or sap like material.

Scabrous   Rough surface

Sessile        Without a stalk

Stamen         The male part of a flower, consisting of anthers and filaments.


Extract from course notes:
The majority of cultivated plants are flowering plants (or angiosperms).
Angiosperms have four main parts: 
  1. Roots the parts which generally grow below the soil
  2. Stems the framework
  3. Leaves required for respiration, transpiration and photosynthesis
  4. Reproductive Parts flowers and fruits.
The main stem and its branches are the framework that supports the leaves, flowers and fruits. The leaves, and also green stems, manufacture food via the process known as photosynthesis, which is transported to the flowers, fruits and roots. The vascular system within the stem consists of canals, or vessels, which transfer nutrients and water upwards and downwards through the plant (i.e. equivalent to the blood system in animals).
A stem’s growing tip, its apical bud, is involved in the following processes:
• stem elongation,
• organising the arrangement of leaves on the stem,
• laying the foundations for the potential development of branches.
An apical bud includes the following:
• Apical meristem
• Leaf primordia (cellular outgrowths on the sides of the apical meristem that will develop into leaves)
• Axillary bud primordia (bulges at the base of each leaf primordium that will develop into axillary buds, which may in turn develop into branches).
The developing stem divides into short sections, called nodes. Leaf and axillary bud primordia develop here. The stem sections between adjacent nodes are called internodes. As the stem grows, the internodes elongate and space the leaves and axillary buds apart.
To furthermore avoid crowding of leaves, leaf primordia are positioned in different directions from previously produced ones. There may be one or more leaves at each node. The basic leaf arrangements are alternate (in a spiral), opposite and whorled (in a ring).
Stems may be modified for a variety of reasons. Some modifications are:
• Tendrils instead of a defined branch, the stem is modified into a climbing tendril with leaves appearing periodically along the tendril
• Thorns thorns appear along the stem. It is in fact a modified stem, e.g. Bougainvillea.
• Prickle sharp appendage of the epidermis of the stem i.e. it is a trichome. It is not morphologically a stem, leaf, etc. e.g. Rosa spp.
• Stolons or runners above ground e.g. Strawberry (Fragaria vesca).
• Rhizome below ground e.g. Canna spp.
• Stem tubers large fleshy storage regions, e.g. potato. (
• Corm function as a food storage to carry the plant over till next season, e.g. gladioli
• Cladodes and phylloclades a cladode is a branch of a single internode which is flattened to simulate a leaf. A phylloclade is an entire shoot similarly flattened.


Who should study this course?

Anyone studying horticulture and wants a more in depth course offering a deeper understanding of plant science, botany and taxonomy.


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