BOT*2000 DE Plants, Biology and People

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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 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.

Pre-Requisite(s): BIOL*1050 or BIOL*1070
Co-Requisite(s): None
Restriction(s): BOT*1200
Method of Delivery: Online


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

It is hoped that you will deepen your knowledge and awareness of plant biology and its implications for human development throughout history and in your daily life. The vehicle for this will be a combination of course readings, interactive websites, videos, your assignments, and informal online discussions.

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
What to Expect for Each Unit
All of the twelve units are structured in a similar manner. In each unit, you will begin by reading the assigned readings. The course website content includes instructor comments and ungraded activities that will summarize the material and help you complete the assignments and prepare for the quizzes and the final exam. Where applicable, links to interactive websites or videos will be provided. Some videos may be long, but you will be required to focus only in certain areas spanning 3-10 minutes maximum. The course website content is not a substitute for the assigned readings.
It is strongly recommended that you follow the course schedule provided below. The schedule outlines what you should be working on each week of the course and lists the important due dates for the assessments. By following the schedule, you will be better prepared to complete the assessments and succeed in this course.
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
TOTAL 100%


Assessment Descriptions
There are three online quizzes worth 10% each that will be administered through the Quizzes tool (found under the Tools dropdown menu in the navbar). These quizzes will be used to assess your mastery of the subject matter. These quizzes are not open-book quizzes nor are they meant to be a group activity. If you rely on your study materials and/or other students to pass, you will not be prepared for the final exam.

Multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions will focus on the specific material that is covered in each of the units from the textbook, readings, and assigned unit content. Each quiz will consist of 40 questions. You will have 80 minutes and one attempt for each quiz.

Assignment 1: The Origins of Your Food
In this assignment you will investigate the diversity of the foods you consume in regard to their geographic origins and taxonomic relationships. This information will be used to compare and discuss two approaches to identifying the origins of crops domestication and to reflect on how your diet compares to that of your ancestors.

Assignment 2: Plant Profile
For this assignment, you will select a plant of economic, social, or spiritual importance and create a general plant profile for it. A list of topics/headings will be provided to serve as a guide for you to develop the profile, but each plant profile will be unique and you are free to modify it as you think is required for the species you select (add, remove, or combine sections). For example, if you choose a food crop with little medical use or conservation needs you may focus more on cultivation and process, while for a medicinal plant collected from the wild you may find little or no information about cultivation and choose to include more detail on the chemistry clinical trials.

Final Exam
This course requires the use of Respondus LockDown Browser to proctor your online final exam within CourseLink. Use of Lockdown Browser has been implemented to maintain the academic integrity of the final exam. You must download and install LockDown Browser to complete the practice test and final exam.

The exam will consist of multiple choice, rapid-fire type questions with about 1 minute to answer each question. You will need to answer the question to move on to the next question. The final exam will be cumulative, covering the total content of the course.

The final exam will be delivered online via the Quizzes tool. The exam is 2 hours in length and will be held on [Please consult WebAdvisor for Final Exam date, time and location].

To accommodate students who may be located in various time zones, the exam will be available beginning at [Please consult WebAdvisor for Final Exam date, time and location] until [Please consult WebAdvisor for Final Exam date, time and location]. Eastern Time (ET). You can enter the exam at any point during this window of time but will only have 2 hours to complete it from when you start writing. For example, if you start writing the exam by [10.30 AM], you will have until [12.30 PM] to complete it. After [12.30 PM] ET you will no longer be able to enter the exam environment.

Similar to a sit-down exam where you must arrive prior to the start of the exam, it is highly recommended that you enter the online exam environment in Respondus at least
20-30 minutes before the end of the available window to allow enough time for you to complete the Respondus Startup Sequence and ensure that you have the full two hours for the exam.

Please be sure to review the Using Respondus Lockdown Browser instructions by selecting Content on the navbar to locate Assessments in the table of contents panel.
Important Note: There is a mandatory practice test that you are required to take before the online exam. The purpose of the practice test is to ensure that Respondus LockDown Browser is set up properly and that you are comfortable using the software.

If you have any questions regarding the use of Respondus Lockdown Browser or if you encounter any technical issues during the practice test or final exam, please contact CourseLink Support at or 519-824-4120 ext. 56939.
University of Guelph degree and associate diploma students must check WebAdvisor for their examination schedule. Open Learning program students must check the Open Learning Program Final Examination Schedule for their examination schedule.

Final examination:

Please refer to WebAdvisor for exam schedule and location.

Course Resources:

Required Text:

Title: Economic Botany: Plants in Our World
Authors: B.B. Simpson and M.C. Ogorzaly
Edition / Year: 4th Edition / 2014
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education
ISBN: 9780073524245

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