Are Our Students Taxonomically Challenged or Not?

Han Lau, Will C. McClatchey, David Reedy, Al Kealii Chock, Kim W. Bridges, Zak Ritchey


A class exercise to introduce plant taxonomy to non- science majors was conducted as part of the Botany Segue of our Introductory Ethnobotany course at the University of Hawai`i in Fall 2007. Students were given the opportunity to name and develop their own classification schemes for forty plant materials. This paper discusses the results of the class exercise. Binomials were used more often than monomials for plant names and the pattern was reversed for category names. Students used many adjectives and terms related to plant parts to name plants and categories. Of all the adjectives used, color and texture were used most often by students to name plants and categories respectively. In general, students were well aware of the different functional roles of plant and category names and illustrated this frequently by using binomials consisting of noun-adjective combinations to name plants and monomial nouns to name categories.

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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