“Plant Lab 101” Welcome

— Written By Hannah Lepsch
en Español

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4-H clubs,

This botanist – “plant nerd”- is excited to share some cool plants with you. Thank you for inviting me to your club meeting.

Here is everything you need to know to prepare for the lab. Collect 2 leaves from your yard and 1 should be from a tree. Try to find full-size leaves if possible, but I understand that may be difficult this early in the spring. Print out 2 copies of the leaf I.D. worksheet and tape your leaf in the box provided (example below).

leaf sampleHave markers or pencils ready on hand for our lab. Leaders/parents please download the free “pl@ntnet” or “leafsnap” app to a smartphone.

Our lab will cover a few topics important plant taxonomy, the science of putting plants into groups so we can identify them. Identifying a plant is the first step in learning how it grows, reproduces, and it is related to other plants in nature. In this lab, we will be learning how to study a leaf to identify the plant it comes from.

Here are some terms we will cover.

Click on the terms above to get familiar with them ahead of time. The definitions may also help you fill in your worksheet. After the lab, I will post a finished worksheet on our website and Facebook page so you can check your work.

The “leafsnap” app will be useful in identifying your plant and learning its common and scientific name. Parents: if the app can’t identify your child’s plant from a single leaf, have them use the app to photograph the actual plant at home. Try taking a photo of the leaf arrangement,  bark, flowers, seed, or the entire plant.

At the end of the lab we will use a microscope to look at these mystery “leaves”. Do you think they are from a plant, animal, or something else? Be ready to share your guess.

close up of plant material
plant material plant material

See you Thursday!

Hannah