Botany I (Plant Physiology And Taxonomy)

Learn about plant physiology and taxonomy. For anyone working with plants, including horticulturalists, agriculturalists, environmental managers and plant scientists.

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

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Learn About Plant Physiology and Taxonomy

The study of botany is relevant not just to botanists but also to horticulturists and anyone working with plants from breeding through to nursery growers or agriculturists. If you understand how plants grow and flower, you can better maintain grow and maintain them.

This course contains the basis of plant science, and is an introduction to plant physiology and taxonomy, covering general botany including morphology and anatomy.

  • Discover Botany under the guidance of an international team of outstanding tutors.
  • Very much an "applied" course, with relevance to the real world.
  • 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

ACS student comment"It has been an eye opener!!  I am now living in a different world, my whole perspective to life and nature has changed and now I cherish it more.  It has broadened my mind and advanced my level of looking at things in my every day work as well. [My tutor] encourages me a lot and that kept me going.  She would give more positive constructive correction where necessary as if it was not that bad at all.  She has been supportive and understanding"  Lucia Masuku, South Africa - Botany I course

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  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

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • 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

What You Will Do

  • Prepare a collection of forty pressed, dried, labelled plants
  • Learn how to key out plants using a Botanical Key
  • Identify the phyla, family, genus and species of ten unknown plants
  • Identify modified plant parts on live plants
  • Describe in botanical terms leaf shapes from a range of different plants
  • Dissect and draw labelled diagrams of several flowers
  • Collect fruits and categorise them by type (pome, drupe, etc)
  • Germinate seeds and describe changes that occur to the seeds over time
  • Observe changes in potted plants under varying levels of sunlight and relate this to photosynthesis
  • Observe transpiration in live plants and relate this to theoretical knowledge
  • Observe and record osmosis in an experimental situation
  • Observe and record phototropism in plants

What is a Plant Made of?

Living matter is made up of cells. They are the basic structural and physiological units of life. In this lesson you will learn about the structure of various types of plant cells and tissues, and how this relates to the functions they perform.

Large tracts of cells with a similar structure that form a collective function are referred to as tissues. Complex organs such as flowers, leaves, stems, roots and fruits are all made up of various types of tissues.

There are two basic types of tissues:

  • Meristematic tissue is found in the roots and shoots of plants. It is where cells actively divide and differentiate into various cell types.
  • Permanent tissue is what develops after meristematic cells have divided and differentiated. Permanent tissues can be classified as simple (including epidermis, parenchyma, schlerenchyma and collenchyma), and complex (including xylem and phloem).

In this course you will learn about the role, structure and development of cells and the roots, stems and leaves that are created from cells.

You will also look at the modifications of vegetative parts of plants. The majority of cultivated plants are flowering plants (or angiosperms), and the course does focus on these more than non flowering plants.

These angiosperms have four main parts:

  1. Reproductive Parts ‑ flowers and fruits.
  2. Stems ‑the framework to which other parts connect
  3. Roots -parts that are below the soil surface (mostly, but not always)
  4. Leaves‑required for respiration, transpiration and photosynthesis

Learn to See Plant Details in a Different Way

After You Graduate

This course is only the beginning of learning about plant science -that's what any good course should be.

When you develop an understanding the fundamentals of botanical science, you then have insights to understand things every time you look at a plant.
Everyone encounters plants every day of their life, in their own gardens, when they drive down a road or walk through a park, in both the country and the city. 
People who have studied botany will notice the characteristics that differentiate one plant species from another, and how the plant is developing new leaves, flowers and fruits, and the different factors that impact upon its health and growth cycles.

Anyone can benefit from studying botany.
Horticulturists, farmers, environmentalists and others will improve their employment prospects and skills at work.

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Dr. Lynette Morgan

Broad expertise in horticulture and crop production. She travels widely as a partner in Suntec Horticultural Consultants, and has clients in central America, the USA, Caribbean, South East Asia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Rosemary Davies

Leading horticultural expert in Australia. Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (c
Barbara Seguel

Teacher and Researcher, Marine Scientist, Tourism and Outdoor recreation guide, Health and Safety Coordinator & Production Manager for Fisheries, National Park Staff/Farmer, Laboratory technical aide, Zoo, Wildlife and Marine Park assistant. Barbara has w
Robert James

B.App. Sc. (Horticulture), Dip.Ag., M.Sc., Grad Dip.Mgt. Over 50 years experience that includes, Nursery Manager Brisbane City Councoil, Grounds Manager (University of Qld), Lecturer Qld Agricultural College, Propagator/Nurseryman at Aspley Nursery, Hort