University of Maryland Maile C. Neel  
Natural Resource Sciences & Landscape Architecture
HomeResearchTeachingPersonnelPublications

Welcome
Search


Alyxia

Woody Plants for Mid-Atlantic Landscapes

I teach two courses in Plant Sciences:

Plant Diversity (PLSC 426) is an amalgamation of a traditional plant taxonomy course, floristic biogeography, vegetation biogeography and a touch of ecology. We cover sight identification of plant families and ~100 species that are commonly encountered in the mid-Atlantic. Students also learn to identify species using traditional dichotomous keys and synoptic keys. This course is offered in spring semesters.

In Vegetation Assessment and Analysis (PLSC 481) students learn field techniques for sampling vegetation in natural environments and inventorying vegetation in built environments. In the lab portion of the course students learn to use the statistical language 'R' to analyze vegetation data to quantify species diversity and distribution patterns. This course is offered in fall semesters and is co-taught with Dr. Joe Sullivan.

I also teach graduate courses and seminars covering topics such as landscape pattern analysis, connectivity and reserve design, and genetic tools for ecologists. Topics vary based on student interest and needs.

Each winter term I teach Sustainable Tropical Ecosystems through Education Abroad.


In the past I taught Woody Plants for Mid-Atlantic Landscapes (PLSC 253 & 254). These courses are now taught by Karen Petroff

The classes have lecture and lab components. Through lecture students learn how to choose the right plant for the right location by studying plant distributions, their physiological requirements, and their ecological effects. They also hone their knowledge of plant-related music. A strong grounding in plant families helps students organize the information they learn. Weekly labs provide opportunities to learn to identify the plants and to see them being used in the landscapes. Most of our labs take place on campus but we also take field trips to the National Arboretum. The courses take advantage of computer-based learning tools including online quizzes and resources on the World Wide Web.

We cover ~200 plants each semester. Fall semester includes mostly deciduous species and mostly species that are native to this area. In the spring semester we start out with conifers and evergreen broadleaf trees and then cover the spring bloomers like cherries, dogwoods and redbuds that make the Mid-Atlantic spring so beautiful.

The 'beloved' display case and twig board - where students spend many late night hours immediately before each lab exam. TAs John and Kim are smiling because they are about to clean out the display case after the final exam.


Students reinforce what they learn in class and make a difference in our local natural areas (not to mention earn bonus points!) by participating in organized invasive plant removal projects. Invasive plants are plants that have been brought into this area by humans (i.e., they are not native to this area) and that have escaped into our native ecosystems. This group of students removed invasive vines and shrubs including multiflora rose, porcelainberry, English ivy, and Japanese honeysuckle from a watershed on the boundary between Takoma Park and Silver Spring, MD with the Friends of Sligo Creek (represented by Sally Gagne in the upper right of the photograph). Students from left to right are Chase Townshend, Jarrett Grosskettler, Corinne Lynch, Meghan Cook, Nathan Workman, Bobby Tjaden, and Chad Dilla.

Let John Prothro and the other students share the love with you. They have developed some outstanding plant walks that will take you around the University of Maryland College Park campus and teach you many of the plants that they have learned in class.

.......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... .......... ..........

University of Maryland     UM Home | Directories | Search | Admissions | Calendar
Maintained by John Fuetsch
Direct questions and comments to Maile Neel