NishiUnder the expert guidance of Associate Professor of Plant Biology at California Polytechnic State University, Nishanta (“Nishi”) Rajakaruna , participating 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.

Finding inspiration through Nishi’s love of plants and his intimate knowledge of the local area gained first as an undergraduate at COA and then as a COA faculty member, students 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 your understanding of and appreciation for the plant world.  

“The COA botany course was a riveting adventure filled with swimming in bogs, microscopic pistols, and scenic granite pits. The class brought so many laughs and new challenges to my life. It was a truly unique and unforgettable learning experience.”
- Hannah G.(high school student)









Additional field trips 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, local grocery store and farmer’s market to discuss the nutritional/medicinal qualities of regional edible plants. Prerequisites: some background in botany & ecology and a strong desire to be outdoors.

Other possible field trips would 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.

“I learned an incredible amount during this course and would highly recommend it to those looking for an immersion in the flora of Acadia National Park and surrounds. I would gladly take it again.” Ellen G. (retired physician)
 2020 Rates
Tuition - CEU Credits $1500  Early Bird Rate good thru 2/29/20  $1400
Tuition - COA Credit* $2550
Lab Fees (includes ANP Pass) $150
Room & Board $800 single room, $660 shared room
Application fee $50
Commuters $150 lunch option (required for commuters only)

*0.6 COA credit (equal to 2 semester credits)

 This two-week course will run 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 AM - 5 PM daily*

*For those seeking COA Credit:  In addition to the 40 hours of scheduled class time every week, I expect that between readings, going over notes, and doing assignments you 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. 


“…our warm, supportive group shared parts of their expertise in entomology, natural history, geology, chemistry, land reform, aesthetics, and more as we wandered the island at a pace everyone was comfortable with. Ultimately, a wonderful, accessible way to learn a huge swath of the Maine flora”

Levi S. (university student)

ridge photo