Botany Lessons from the Front Lawn
A Common Lawn Weed Supports Lessons in Botany
Did you know that a dandelion flower is many flowers that make up a single head? Getting curious and paying attention to flowers that pop up during the spring and summer can help us become more mindful of the seasons, weather conditions, and plant species. Our front lawns, local meadows, and even cracks in the sidewalks can be a great place to start simple lessons in botany!
Keeping a journal to document observations, either in words, sketches, or photographs, can support awareness of seasonal patterns and how sunlight, insects, weather, and soil conditions can impact plants. Sharing your plant observations with citizen science projects, like Ohio State University youth-focused program, Dandelion Detectives integrates mindful observation with the scientific process of data collection.
In the spring, one flowering plant which can quickly spark curiosity and begin simple lessons in botany is the common dandelion. Easy to identify and loaded with teachings in not only botany, but also the culinary arts, history, and STEM, the dandelion is perfect for learning about a plant life cycle, the parts of the flower, and the processes of pollination and seed distribution.
Getting curious about the structure and function of the dandelion and exploring the entire plant from blossom to stem to taproot is a great place to begin. Compare and contrast a dissection of the dandelion flower with other plants that are flowering at the same time (i.e., daffodil, azalea, wild violets). Notice the differences in form, color, and patterns. Compare the levels of sunlight (full, partial, or shade) in which these different plant species grow, which insects are essential to their pollination and research to learn if they are an annual or perennial plant. In this video, learn how to conduct a flower dissection and how to organize an exploration of flowering parts and functions.
Budburst, a national network of citizen scientists monitoring plants as the seasons change, is an online resource that supports simple lessons in botany too. Using your observations and growing interests via common dandelion, follow these steps to participate: Learn how to observe, Make an observation, and Report your observation.
Photo credit: (cc) Frank Vincentz
Flowering Plants: Dandelion
- SUPPORTED INTERESTS: Botany. Scientific Process. Botanical Drawing. Nature Photography.
- CBEdu RESOURCES: Native Plant Species. Naturalized Plant Species. Ornamental Plants. Lawns. Fields. Meadows. Citizen Science Program.
- SUGGESTED ACTIVITY: Mindful Observation. Nature Journal. Sketching & Photography. Plant Identification. Data Collection. Plant Dissection.