Biology 108C, Fall 2010

Field Biology:  An Introduction to Wildflowers





Dr. Jerry Skinner; Capwell Hall Rm. 211; phone:  570-945-8404. 

Website:;   Email: 





Newcomb, Lawrence.  1977.  Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Little, Brown & Company: Boston. 490pp.


Young, S. 2010  Name Changes for Newcomb's Guide.




Required materials:  handlens, field notebook, and technical pen.



When this course is complete, you will

    1. recognize some of the common wild flowering plants (herbs, shrubs and trees) of our area.

     2. identify common plants.

     3. gain familiarity with simple taxonomic keys.

     4. determine the family to which any plant belongs.

     5. understand the distribution of PA plants in relation to glaciation, climate, physiography, bedrock, soil, etc.

     6. appreciate the status of Pennsylvania's endangered plants and their habitats.

     7. recognize how early the first killing frost comes to NE PA!


Class Meetings:   Come prepared to be outside for the entire class, rain or shine.

August 30 Introduction to keys; how to preserve a plant.  Brief on campus field trip.
September 6 Labor Day: no class.
  13 First specimen due. Ferns and campus field trip.
20 Four specimens due.  Field trip to Woodbourne Preserve.
27 Five specimens due.  Field trip to Lake Manataka field station.
October 4 Five specimens due; garden contributions must be planted by this date.  Field trip.
11 No Class-Columbus Day Holiday. 
18 Last 10 specimens due.  Digital Herbarium contributions due.  Final exam.
25 Data entry complete.  Final grades assigned.


·         A collection of 25 esthetically mounted, properly identified and documented plants.  This collection must contain at least 12 different genera and 10 different families [unless other arrangements are made in advance; e.g., you may wish to specialize in trees, ferns, goldenrods, etc.].  Certain very common species (which are well represented in the herbarium) will not count towards your requirements.  See me for a list of excluded plants.

·         To aid in proper identification and grading, you must look in the Vascular Plants of Pennsylvania book (henceforth referred to as the FLORA book), and write IN PENCIL the page number of the range map on the BACK of your mounted specimen sheet.  You must also write the page number of your field guide where you found this specimen so that I can look it up quickly when grading.

      Example:     Flora:  p 342;          Newcombe: p. 151

Scoring:   each plant specimen is potentially worth 10 points, assigned down as follows:

quality of mount 3 pts
proper documentation 2
correct family 2
correct genus 2
correct species 1

Contribution to Keystone College:  To help improve the course in future years, you will make one of the following contributions:

1)      You will plant an appropriate, vigorously alive, accurately identified fern into the Capwell Garden.  Or,

2)      You will add 10, high quality, digital diagnostic images of local plants to the Keystone College Virtual Herbarium.

3)   Serve as the Virtual Herbarium webmaster to design and construct the website.


Bonus:   If you are invited to contribute a specimen to KC's herbarium collection, add 1 point.  You increase the chances of receiving such an invitation by submitting 1) an exceptionally aesthetic specimen, or, 2) a species not presently in the collection.  You must donate your specimen and properly enter it into the database to receive this bonus.


Evaluation:  How your grade will be determined:

                                             25 specimens (@ 10 pts)                                    250      

                                             final exam--practical exam                                   50

                                             Contribution to garden or virtual herbarium            25

                                                                                           Total                   325 pts.

              Grading scale: 

A = 90%, B = 80%, C = 70%, D = 60%, F = <60%

Appropriate plus/minus grades will be assigned.


Study guide for final lab practical exam

Other Virtual Herbaria:  Colby-Sawyer College

Invasive Plants: Invasive Species Information System (US Government), Alien Plant Invaders (National Park Service)

Pennsylvania Native Plant Society

University of Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants Home Page

Poisonous Plants of Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Flora Project


The Fine Print:

Keystone College does not discriminate in any of its programs on the basis of disability. While there is not a deadline for the disclosure of a disability by a student, in order to facilitate the documentation and accommodation processes, students are encouraged to voluntarily and confidentially disclose and disability requiring an accommodation prior to the beginning of class. This disclosure should be made to Owen Conaghan, , College Counselor & Coordinator of Disability Services.  Students who disclose a disability, and who are seeking an accommodation, ultimately will be expected to provide documentation verifying the disability.

Academic Honesty – Division of Natural Science and Mathematics
All students are subject to the College's policy and procedure on academic dishonesty;  see the current Keystone College catalog. 
The Natural Science and Mathematics Division recognizes that any form or degree of academic dishonesty challenges the principles of truth and honesty which are among the most important founding principles of science and mathematics discovery.  Keystone College treats academic dishonesty as a serious violation of academic trust.  It penalizes all students found to have engaged in such behavior.
Academic honesty within the College and the Natural Science and Mathematics Division must be a cooperative enterprise of faculty, students and administrators. Acts of academic dishonesty include but are not limited to the following:

  1. The illegitimate use of study materials or electronic devices in any form during a quiz or examination.
  2. Copying answers from the quiz or examination paper of another student.
  3. Plagiarizing or falsifying materials or information used in the completion of any assignment which is graded or evaluated as the student's individual effort. Plagiarism includes submitting as one's own the ideas or work of another, including the laboratory data, written materials or the computer files of another, regardless of whether that information is used verbatim or in paraphrased form.  The same applies to anything derived from the Internet, including research papers purchased online. 
  4. Obtaining, through theft, bribery, or collusion, or otherwise improperly securing an examination paper prior to the time and date for the administration of the examination. Also, use of an examination paper previously administered (e.g., during an earlier term) without the consent of the instructor who authored the examination.
  5. Impersonating a candidate at an examination or availing oneself of such an impersonation in any traditional or online class. 
  6. Intentionally interfering with any person's scholastic work, for example, by damaging or stealing laboratory experiments, computer data files or library materials.
  7. It is presumed that material submitted by a student for an assignment is original to that assignment and, therefore, submitting the same work for more than one course without the consent of the instructors of each course in which the work is submitted is considered dishonest.  Submission of previously graded work from prior assignments is considered dishonest. 
  8. Aiding or abetting any act of academic dishonesty including but not limited to such offenses as described above.

Any student caught cheating, or using someone’s work as their own, will be reported to the Academic Dean of the College.  A grade of zero will be recorded for that assignment/test/quiz. For more information on dishonest acts including plagiarism, cheating, and fraud, consult your Student Information Guide.

Keystone College states that all official student email correspondence be sent only to a student’s Keystone email address and that faculty and staff consider email from students official only if it originates from a Keystone account. This allows the College to maintain a high degree of confidence in the identity of all individuals and the security of transmitted information.  Keystone College furnishes each student with a free email account that is to be used in all communication with College personnel

The College has set deadlines for withdrawing from courses. These dates and times are published in the course catalog and on the Academic Calendar. It is the student's responsibility to handle withdrawal requirements from any class. The proper paperwork must be completed to ensure that you will not receive a final grade of "F" in a course if you choose not to attend once you are enrolled. If you are considering withdrawing from a class, consult your Advisor and refer to the College Catalog.

An “I” (Incomplete) will only be given under extenuating circumstances.  It will not be given to students who simply fail to do the work or miss an exam.  If an “I” is given, students must complete the work within four weeks into the following semester, or receive a grade of “F” for the course.

Keystone College offers tutoring assistance for many of its courses. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, consult the Tutoring webpage.