Home Studies - Botany Course -

Study plants to learn about plant physiology and taxonomy.

  • 100 hour introduction to plant physiology and taxonomy
  • general botany including morphology and anatomy
  • enhance career opportunities in anything from horticulture and environmental management to teaching and science.

Why study plants?

Understanding how plants grow allows us to better manage the environment and the production of plant crops, and can be a valuable first step toward an exciting career.

Who might do this course:

  • Gardeners, Farmers, Nurserymen, Planners, Land Managers
  • Teachers, Research assistants
  • Environmental managers
  • Anyone wanting to take the first step toward a career in pure or applied plant sciences


Duration: 100 Hours (you study at your own pace).


On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • 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 unit


The course is divided into 10 lessons as follows:

  1. Taxonomic Classification of Plants
  2. Cells and Tissues
  3. Specific Vegetative Parts of a Plant
  4. Flowers and Fruit
  5. Seed and the Developing Embryo
  6. Photosynthesis and Growing Plants
  7. Respiration
  8. The Role of Water
  9. Movement of Water and Assimilates through a Plant
  10. The Effects of Tropisms and Other Growth Movements


During this course, students will:

  • 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


Types of Plant Cells

• Parenchyma cells form masses in leaves, stems and roots. Parenchyma are live cells at maturity and have thin walls and large vacuoles. Parenchyma cells are found throughout the plant.

• Collenchyma cells are live at maturity and form strands beneath the epidermis of stems or lead stalks and along the veins in leaves. These strands of collenchyma provide the support for plants before secondary growth has taken place (celery “strings” are mostly made up of collenchyma).

• Sclerenchyma cells have lignified (i.e. lignin containing) secondary walls. This makes them rigid. Sclerenchyma are non living at maturity.

• Xylem is the water conducting tissue of plants. Xylem allows water to flow from the roots up through to the shoots of a plant in a continuous stream. Xylem tissue is made up of tracheids and vessel elements. These fibre like cells have lignified secondary walls and they both form long chains to conduct water. Not all plants have both types of cells. Xylem also contains fibre (which are thick walled, supportive sclerenchyma cells) and parenchyma, which is used for food storage.

• Phloem is the food conducting tissue in vascular plants. Phloem is made up of sieve cells and sieve tube members. These cells vary in structure, although both types lack a nucleus at maturity. Sieve tube members occur only in angiosperms, whereas sieve cells occur in gymnosperms. If sieve tube members are present, they are associated with a type of parenchyma cell known as a companion cell. These companion cells help to conduct metabolites.

• Epidermal cells make up the epidermis, which covers all parts of the primary plant body. Types of epidermal cells include guard cells, trichomes and root hairs.