The freshman Biology class has been studying plants recently, and so they took a trip to the UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens (https://gardens.uncc.edu). The visit included some time examining ferns and discussing the difference between ferns and mosses. The Botanical Gardens has unique ferns including a very simple fern without leaves whose yellow spores grow directly off the stem, a fern whose leaves are ringed with spores, and ferns with linear spores.
Students also saw the bug-eating pitcher plant and the famous Venus Flytrap. Since these plants are just leaving their dormancy stage, students were not able to observe any movement but their tour guide (and assistant director of the gardens), Paula Gross, invited them back later in the season when these plants are active.
To illustrate nastic movement vs. tropic movement, Ms. Gross showed the class pea plants whose leaves fold in every night (nastic movement), and the sensitive mimosa. The mimosa’s leaves fold up every night (nastic movement) and also fold up in response to direct stimuli during the day (tropic movement).
No trip to the gardens would be complete without a close look at their amazing orchid collection. Ms. Gross took an orchid apart, pointing out that of the five similar petals in the orchid, only two are true petals; the other three are its sepals. In addition to the two not-so-flashy petals there is one ornate petal that makes the orchid stand out from other beautiful flowers. In two minutes, she took that last petal apart to show us all the intricacies that lie behind the flower’s beauty.
Special thanks to Paula Gross and Kathy Zimmerman for an amazing hour at the greenhouse–most of the class wants to go back!