NishiUnder the expert guidance of California Polytechnic State University Associate Professor of Plant Biology Nishanta (“Nishi”) Rajakaruna, students will cover all aspects of general botany by examining native, introduced, invasive, and cultivated plants found in the diverse habitats of Acadia National Park and vicinity, botanical gardens, and other sites of noteworthy cultivated plants in the Mount Desert Island area.

Discover inspiration through Dr. Nishi Rajakaruna’s love of plants and his intimate knowledge of the local area, gained first as an undergraduate at COA and then as a COA professor!  Students in this all-ages course will gain exceptional field-based experience focusing on the taxonomic diversity, ecology, and human uses of common plants of New England, with the aim of enhancing understanding and appreciation for the plant world.  

Field experiences include visits to Deer Isles and Brooksville to look at plants adapted to heavy-metal rich disturbed sites, Mount Desert Rock  to examine plants adapted to seabird-nesting rock outcrops, and local grocery stores and farmers’ markets to discuss the nutritional/medicinal qualities of regional edible plants.

Other possible field excursions include visits to the Avena Botanicals  Herbal Apothecary and Biodynamic Garden, Coastal Maine Botanical Garden ,  and the Orono Bog . Students will learn how to identify about 200 native plants common to New England as well as learn the botany of major edible plant families of the world, including Solanaceae (potato family), Poaceae (rice family), Fabaceae (bean family), Brassicaceae (cabbage family), Asteraceae (sunflower family), and Rosaceae (apple family), among others. The course is designed to teach general botany for students interested in natural history/ecology, agriculture, forestry, medicinal and edible plants, conservation and restoration, and landscape design. Evaluations are based on field quizzes, class participation, and a small herbarium collection.

 This two-week course runs M-F each week.  There may be one or two field trips that leave early and/or return later but hours will generally be 9 a.m - 5 p.m. daily*

This course may be taken for two semester hour credits (0.6 of a full COA credit). In addition to the 40 hours of scheduled class time every week, between readings, going over notes, and doing assignments those seeking credit will spend at least an additional 10 hours a week on this course, for a total of at least 100 hours over the two-weeks devoted to this class.

Prerequisites: some background in botany & ecology and a strong desire to be outdoors.