In the Basics of Holistic Herbalism course as well as our Fundamentals of Holistic Herbalism Certification Program, we have fun learning activities to help solidify the concepts you've learned as well as prepare you for the quizzes and tests.
We've put a couple of samples in our Free Herbal Content course so you can see what a lecture and an activity are like.
Ready to test your knowledge of basic botany? Check it out
Let's continue our overview of some botanical basics.
Last time I talked about leaf venation and this time I'm going to talk a little about leaf arrangement.
Alternate: this is when you see a leaf on the left side of a stem, then a little bit up there's a leaf on the right side of the stem.
Opposite: this arrangement has leaves growing out of both sides of the stem at the same place on the stem.
A Sub arrangement of both is called Alternate Opposite: this is a popular arrangement in the mint family. You'll notice that the leaves are opposite, but every other one the little opposite bundle will be going the opposite direction (see photo)
The last one I want to introduce is whorled. In this arrangement you'll see leaves arranged in a circular pattern around the stem, cleavers is a perfect example of a whorled arrangement.
Daisy, Dandelion, Viola, Mullein; these are names that many of us are familiar with and use in every day language.
Common names can cause confusion when communicating with others especially when discussing edibility and medicinal qualities of an herb so it's important to know and use the botanical name.
Botanical names are italicized and are what we refer to as binomial (two names). The first name is the genera and is capitalized with the species coming second which is lower case.
Learning botany doesn't have to be intimidating or boring.
Herbalists do much better if they learn some basics without getting too caught up in the details.
Being familiar with the veins, shape, edges, and arrangements of leaves and the names used to describe them can be very helpful when reading foraging and wildcrafting guides.
So let's talk about the basics.
The veins of a leaf can help us discern between monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants.
Regardless of their arrangements, veins serve several functions:
Parallel venation (these are usually monocots) meaning the veins run from the base of the leaf to the tip without branching out an touching each other. Grasses have this venation.
Net-like, also called reticular venation, (these are dicots) which means they will have small branching veins running out of the primary veins.
Understanding basic botany is a valuable skill to possess. Knowing the names as well as the language of botany becomes increasingly important as you progress in your herbal journey. This is why we teach basic botany in our Fundamentals of Holistic Herbalism Program.
In the photo above you see the basic parts of a typical flower. Not all flowers will have this exact anatomy, but once you know all the parts you'll know enough to identify what is on other flowers.
Get familiar with the anatomy of a flower and you'll be even more ready to go out wildcrafting and foraging safely next spring!