Botany 661 - Hawaiian Vascular Plants

 Course DescriptionBotany 661 will provide a formal mechanism through which students will have the opportunity to quickly and efficiently gain experience with the native genera of Hawaiian vascular plants.  This experience should facilitate the initiation and completion of individual student research programs in the areas of ecology, evolution, systematics, and conservation.  After a brief introduction to the Hawaiian setting and review of terminology, the lectures will introduce the genera to be studied in the corresponding lab.  Lectures will incorporate extensive supporting audiovisual or multimedia materials available to the instructors.  For well-studied groups, available biosystematic, biogeographic, cytogenetic, ecological, and molecular evolutionary data will be summarized.  The lab will rely primarily on preserved herbarium materials to provide the opportunity for students to study representative and diagnostic features of native genera.  The lab also has on-line computers with links to extensive reference materials and illustrations of native plants.  These are continuously available to provide visual images and other learning reinforcement opportunities on demand.  Field trips to the coastal strand, and to the Wai’anae and Ko’olau Mountains will complement the experiences in the lab and provide a glimpse of the objects of study in their own unique environments.   

Botany 661 Queen's Beach Field Trip, spring, 2001
Botany 661 Queen's/Kealia Trips, spring, 2002

Course LevelBotany 661 is a 3 credit graduate course.  The expected level of preparation is Botany 461 or equivalent.  The course will be fast-paced and will assume that participants have had experience with plant systematics, including knowledge of vascular plant families, descriptive terminology, and use of identification keys. 

Evaluation of Student PerformanceThere will be weekly lab quizzes and lecture and lab midterms and finals.  The lecture (take-home) examinations will emphasize synthesis of information about the biogeography, evolution, and systematic relationships of selected Hawaiian plant groups.  The first lecture exam will be distributed in the first week of February and is due back one week after the first lab exam.  The final lecture exam will be distributed in the first week of April and is due back on the final exam day for this course.  The lab midterm and final exams will be practical in nature, emphasizing recognition of native plant genera based on herbarium specimens and/or photographs.  The quiz score total and the lectures and lab exams will each constitute 20% of the final grade. 

Text and Web Resources: 

Wagner, Herbst & Sohmer.  1999.  Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai‘i

For native plants:

For vascular plant families:

For the silversword alliance: 


Gerald D. Carr, St. John 406, 956-8304,

Clifford W. Morden, St. John 609, 956-9636,

Maya LeGrande (TA), St. John 612, 956-3719,

Lecture and Laboratory Topics:





Jan 8

Introduction, The Hawaiian Milieu, Derivation of the Hawaiian Flora


Vegetation Zones, Vegetative Plant Terminology


Holiday – Martin Luther King


Subclasses of Flowering Plants, Reproductive Terminology


Aizoaceae, Amaranthaceae, Anacardiaceae, Apiaceae, Apocynaceae, Aquifoliaceae, Araliaceae


Asteraceae, Begoniaceae, Boraginaceae, Brassicaceae

Feb 5-7

Campanulaceae Capparaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Celastraceae, Chenopodiaceae,


Euphorbiaceae, Fabaceae


Holiday – Presidents’ Day


Convolvulaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Cuscutaceae, Droseraceae, Ebenaceae, Elaeocarpaceae, Epacridaceae, Ericaceae, Flacourtiaceae, Gentianaceae,


Geraniaceae, Gesneriaceae Goodeniaceae, Gunneraceae, Hydrangeaceae, Hydrophyllaceae, Lamiaceae, Lauraceae, Loganiaceae, Lythraceae, Menispermaceae

Mar 5

Midterm Lab Exam


Malvaceae, Moraceae, Myoporaceae, Myrsinaceae, Myrtaceae


Nyctaginaceae, Oleaceae, Papaveraceae, Phytolaccaceae, Piperaceae, Pittosporaceae, Plantaginaceae, Plumbaginaceae, Polygonaceae, Portulacaceae, Primulaceae, Ranunculaceae,


Rhamnaceae, Rosaceae, Rubiaceae


Spring Recess

Apr 2-4

Rutaceae, Santalaceae, Sapindaceae, Sapotaceae, Scrophulariaceae, Solanaceae, Sterculiaceae


Theaceae, Thymelaeaceae, Urticaceae, Verbenaceae, Violaceae, Viscaceae, Zygophyllaceae, Agavaceae, Arecaceae


Hydrocharitaceae, Iridaceae, Joinvilleaceae, Juncaceae, Liliaceae, Orchidaceae, Pandanaceae, Potamogetonaceae, Ruppiaceae, Smilacaceae


Poaceae, Cyperaceae



May 2

Course Evaluation, Lab Final

 Suggested Readings for Background: 

Carlquist, S.  1970.  Hawaii, a natural history.  Natural History Press, Garden City, New York.

Carlquist, S. 1974.  Island biology.  Columbia University Press, New York.

Carson, H. L. and D. A. Clague.  1995.  Geology and Biogeography of the Hawaiian Islands.  Pp. 14-29.  In: W. L. Wagner and V. A. Funk, eds.  Hawaiian Biogeography.  Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington.

Fosberg, F. R.  1948.  Derivation of the flora of the Hawaiian Islands.  Pp. 107-119.  In: E. C. Zimmerman, Insects of Hawaii.  Vol. 1. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.  [Reprinted in E. A. Kay, ed. 1972.  A natural history of the Hawaiian Islands, Pp. 396-408. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Macdonald, G. A., A. T. Abbott, and F. L. Peterson.  1983.  Volcanoes in the Sea, 2nd Ed.  University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Wagner, W. L.  1991.  Evolution of waif floras: A comparison of the Hawaiian and Marquesan Archipelagoes.  Pp. 267-284.  In: E. C. Dudley, ed.  The unity of evolutionary biology.  Dioscorides Press, Portland, OR.

Wagner, W. L., D. R. Herbst, and S. H. Sohmer.  1999.  Manual of the flowering plants of Hawai‘i.  University of Hawaii Press and Bishop Museum Press, Honolulu.