BOT*2000 DE Plants, Biology and People

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The following description is for the course offering in Winter 2022 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 deals with the biology of plant species of historical and cultural importance. It will focus on plants used as a source of food, drugs, herbal medicines, industrial raw materials, perfumes and dyes. Examples of plant products that will be looked at include grains, root and tuber crops, Cannabis, tea, opium, wine, and absinthe. The relevant morphology, physiology, distribution and ethnobotany of these plant species will be discussed. A combination of readings and videos of important plant species will look at the history of their use; structures, features and constituents of importance; domestication, cultivation, harvesting and processing; and current issues surrounding their use.


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture


Distance Education

Semester Offering:

  • Winter

Class Schedule and Location:

This course is offered through Distance Education only.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of this course, students should be able to:
  1. Demonstrate the ability to participate in an informed discussion about the cultural, social, economic and spiritual importance of plants to better relate their relevance to everyday life
  2. Recognize the characteristics of plants that make them useful as food, medicine, and industrial materials
  3. Accurately describe the cultivation and processing of a diverse array of plants to understand how many products we use every day are produced
  4. Appreciate the impact that plants have had on the betterment of the human condition and personal pleasure and the unknown potential they still hold

Lecture Content:

Topics to be covered include:
  • Botany basics
  • Agriculture and plant domestication
  • Grains and legumes
  • Fruits and seeds
  • Stems, leaves and roots
  • Herbs, spices and perfumes
  • Medicinal plants
  • Ethnobotany and the search for new drugs
  • Psychoactive drugs
  • Stimulating and intoxicating beverages
  • Wood, cork, bamboo and fibres
  • Rubber
Labs & Seminars:


Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test Contribution to Final Mark
Quiz 1
Assignment 1
Quiz 2
Assignment 2
Quiz 3
Final Exam

Final examination:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for exam schedule and location.

Course Resources:

Required Text:

Simpson, B.B, and M.C. Ogorzaly. 2014. Economic Botany: Plants in Our World, 4th Edition, McGraw Hill, New York, NY, USA.

You may purchase the textbook at the Guelph Campus Co-op Bookstore or the University of Guelph Bookstore. Please note that DE textbooks are located in the Distance Education section of the University of Guelph Bookstore.
Recommended Texts:


(powered by D2L’s Brightspace) is the course website and will act as your classroom. It is recommended that you log in to your course website every day to check for announcements, access course materials, and review the weekly schedule and assignment requirements.
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: Tel: 519-824-4120 ext. 53621 Email: Location: McLaughlin Library, First Floor, University of Guelph
Lab Manual


Other Resources: 

Videos and articles are held on reserve at the library as outlined in CourseLink in eReserve.

Course Policies:

Assignments 1 and 2 should be submitted electronically via the online Dropbox tool. When submitting your assignments using the Dropbox tool, do not leave the page until your assignment has successfully uploaded. To verify that your submission was complete, you can view the submission history immediately after the upload to see which files uploaded successfully. The system will also email you a receipt. Save this email receipt as proof of submission.
Be sure to keep a back-up copy of all of your assignments in the event that they are lost in transition. In order to avoid any last-minute computer problems, your instructor strongly recommend you save your assignments to a cloud-based file storage (e.g., Google Docs), or send to your email account, so that should something happen to your computer, the assignment could still be submitted on time or re-submitted.
It is your responsibility to submit your assignments on time as specified on the Schedule. Be sure to check the technical requirements and make sure you have the proper computer, that you have a supported browser, and that you have reliable Internet access. Remember that technical difficulty is not an excuse not to turn in your assignment on time. Don’t wait until the last minute as you may get behind in your work.
If, for some reason, you have a technical difficulty when submitting your assignment electronically, please contact your instructor or CourseLink Support.
Late Policies:

If you choose to submit your individual assignments to Dropbox late, the full allocated mark will be reduced by 10% per day after the deadline for the submission of the assignment, to a limit of six days. After this time, the Dropbox folder will be closed.


Extensions will be considered for medical reasons or other extenuating circumstances. If you require an extension, discuss this with the instructor as soon as possible and well before the due date. Extensions will not be granted once the due date has passed. These rules are not designed to be arbitrary, nor are they inflexible. They are designed to keep you organized, to ensure that all students have the same amount of time to work on assignments, and to help to return marked materials to you in the shortest possible time. If you experience any difficulty completing the assignments by the due dates for legitimate reasons, please contact the Course Instructor by email to discuss an extension.

Academic Consideration:

If you wish Academic Consideration for extenuating medical, psychological, or compassionate circumstances please contact the Course Instructor. Clarification on Academic Consideration can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar at

Review of Graded Assignments:

Grades and comments for the assignments will be available in the feedback section of the Submit page. Students should review these comments carefully. If you have questions about the way your assignment was graded you should contact the instructor who marked the assignment for clarification.

Student Responsibilities:

This course requires five to six hours of online access per week, and students are expected to check the Updates page, Main Class conference and their email account daily. Students are responsible for all announcements, feedback, and other course material distributed online.

Academic Integrity:

Although students are encouraged to share thoughts and ideas while studying for the course, all material submitted for grading must be each student's own work. Please familiarize yourself with our policies and procedures regarding plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct please see the resources listed in Unit 1 in the Course Manual.

Course Policy on Group Work:

All assignments are individual projects. You may work in pairs on assignment one, but the submitted assignment must be your own work.

Course Policy Regarding Use of Electronic Devices and Recording of Lectures:


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