Sustainable Plants for a Changing World

Summary: This seminar course meets once per week for 3 hours and will focus on the nature of the interaction between plants and the environments in which they grow. It will cover both native and invasive species in natural landscapes, horticultural plants in the built landscape, and spontaneous vegetation in the urban environment. It will also cover various aspects of plant form, function, and identification during the course of weekly \”laboratory\” sessions and field trips with a focus on those species which can be cultivated under urban conditions with a minimum input of maintenance (i.e. sustainable). And finally the course will examine the financial and biological issues associated with commercial plant production in nurseries, with a focus on cultivar selection and propagation as well as an examination of future trends in the nursery industry as regards the development of plants for specialized niches such as green roofs and stressful urban conditions. Grades will be based on a final exam and a final project/paperTwo1.5 hour lecture/field sessions per week covering the following broad categories:Plant Ecologies in the Urban EnvironmentUrban ecology is a blend of human culture and natural history, with socio-economic factors typically driving ecological processes. Sustainable urban landscapes must be able to tolerate intense competition from weeds, high levels of environmental stress and pervasive and perpetual disturbance. Essentially a sustainable landscape is one which is in balance with the resources available to maintain it. The course will cover the following categories of plants:-Native Plants versus Invasive Species-Horticultural Plants and the Ecology of the Built Landscape-Spontaneous Plants and Adaptive Urban Ecology Plant Function and IdentificationCovering this topic will involve weekly lab sessions or field trips to see plants in their real-world habitats, with a specific focus on the characteristics of important families. The species covered can be considered sustainable in the sense that they are 1) adapted to the ecologically stressful growing conditions typically found in urban areas, 2) require minimum maintenance inputs in order to fulfill their ecological and aesthetic functions, and 3) are not considered to be invasive. -Trees (deciduous and evergreen)-Shrubs-Perennials-VinesCommercial Plant ProductionThis will include at least one field trip to see modern nursery practices in operation. The following topics in class:-Development of Horticultural Plants: cultivar selection and propagation-Future Trends in the Nursery Industry such as: -sterile cultivars of invasive species-cultivars of native species-low-profile trees which do not interfere with wires -green roof and green wall plants-stress-tolerant plants (high temperatures, drought, air pollution, etc.)