BOT*1200 Plants and Human Use

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2023 and is subject to change. It is provided for information only. The course outline distributed to the class at the beginning of the semester describes the course content and delivery, and defines the methods and criteria to be used in establishing the final grades for the course.

This course will examine past and present interactions between humans and plants with emphasis on major changes in civilization and cultures as a result of these interactions. The approach will be to consider several case studies of how unique structural and chemical properties of various plant organs have played a role in their use by humans. Not an acceptable course for students in B.SC. Biological Sciences Programs, B.A.S. Program, B.SC. (ENV.) or B.SC. (AGR.) Programs.

Restrictions: BIOL*1050


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Analyze and describe botanical concepts, including plant anatomy.

  2. Differentiate how plants are used for food, medicine, building materials, stimulating beverages, and for their psychoactive effects.

  3. Explain and demonstrate the impact that plants have on human society, historically and currently.

  4. Have developed their critical reasoning, judgment and communication skills.

Lecture Content:

Lecture topics include starchy staple crops, medicinal plants, psychoactive plants and their products, herbs, spices, stimulating beverages, plant fibers, natural rubber, wood and wood products.

Labs & Seminars:

There are no labs or seminars in this course.

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Grade Learning Outcomes assessed

Test 1 In-Class


1, 2, 3, 4

Mid-term Exam


1, 2, 3, 4

Test 2 In-Class


1, 2, 3, 4

Mid-term Exam


1, 2, 3, 4

Test 3 In-Class


1, 2, 3, 4

In the event that a test or midterm exam is cancelled due to closure of the university, the assignment will be re-scheduled for the next lecture period in the course calendar.  In such an event, students will be advised of the re-scheduling by e-mail and on CourseLink. 

Final examination:

There is no final exam for this course.

Course Resources:

Recommended Texts:

Estelle Levetin and Karen McMahon. 2015. Plants and Society, 7th Edition. McGraw-Hill Inc, NY

** Copies of the 6th and 7th Edition of Plants and Society are available at the library on course reserve.

As a student, you have access to the University of Guelph’s library collection, including both physical and electronic materials. For information on checking out or couriering physical library items, accessing electronic journals and returning items to the library, visit the library's website.

If you are studying off campus and would like to access the library’s electronic resources, use the Off Campus Login and login using your Single Sign On credentials or using your last name and library barcode.

For this course, you will be required to access course reserve materials through the University of Guelph McLaughlin Library. To access these items, select Ares on the navbar in CourseLink. Note that you will need your Central Login ID and password in order to access items on reserve.

For further instructions on accessing reserve resources, visit How to Get Course Reserve Materials.

If at any point during the course you have difficulty accessing reserve materials, please contact the e-Learning Operations and Reserve Services staff at: 


Suggested Reading:

Beryl Brintnall Simpson and Molly Conner-Ogorzaly. 2014. Plants in our World; Economic Botany. 4th Edition. McGraw-Hill Education. New York (Available at the University of Guelph, McLaughlin Library; Reserve 2 Hour (SB108.U5 S56 2014 )

Henry Hobhouse. 2005. Seeds of Change: Six Plants that Transformed Mankind. Harper and Row, New York


Course Policies:

Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures:

Electronic recording of classes is expressly forbidden without consent of the instructor. When recordings are permitted they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, without the express written consent of the instructor. Electronic/wireless devices are not permitted during tests or exams (this includes cellular phones, computers, cellular watches, etc…).

The materials provided in this course are the property of the course instructors unless otherwise stated. Third party copyrighted materials (such as book chapters and articles) have either been licensed for use in this course, or have been copied under an exception or limitation in Canadian Copyright law. 

The fair dealing exception in Canada's Copyright Act permits students to reproduce short excerpts from copyright-protected materials for purposes such as research, education, private study, criticism and review, with proper attribution. Any other copying, communicating, or distribution of any content provided in this course, may be an infringement of copyright if done without proper license or the consent of the copyright owner, the course instructors. Examples of infringing uses of copyrighted works would include uploading materials (e.g., class lecture materials and quizzes) to a commercial third party web site (such as CourseHero or OneClass), or making paper or electronic copies of works for commercial purposes. 

For more information about students’ rights and obligations with respect to copyrighted works, consult the Fair Dealing Guidance for Students document on the Library’s Copyright website.


Other Course Information:

University Policies

Academic Consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the academic calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community, faculty, staff, and students  to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring.

University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact the Student Accessibility Services (SAS), formerly Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD), as soon as possible.

For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email or visit the Student Accessibility Services website:

Course Evaluation Information

Your ratings and comments are important.  Course evaluation data are used to assess and enhance the quality of teaching and student learning at the University of Guelph.  Student course ratings and comments are used as an important component in the Faculty Tenure & Promotion process, and as valuable feedback to help instructors improve their teaching effectiveness and to improve the delivery of the course.

Your responses will not affect your grade.  Course evaluation data are distributed to individual instructors after final grades have been submitted to the Registrar, following the completion of each academic semester.

Please be honest, respectful, constructive and thorough.  Instructors and review committees place great value on student course ratings and read all comments provided in course evaluations. It is helpful to provide comments on the strengths of the course, in addition to the areas for improvement.  Please refrain from personal comments unless they relate to teaching and learning.

Click here for the University of Guelph Course Evaluation System