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Course Description

A cup of tea with mint leaves sitting beside the mug

The course deals with the biology of plant species of historical and cultural importance. It will focus on plants used as a source of drugs, herbal medicines, industrial raw materials, food products, perfumes and dyes. Examples of plant products that will be looked at include cocaine, chocolate, tea, opium, hemp and ginseng. The relevant morphology, physiology, distribution and ethnobotany of these plant species will be discussed.

Note: This course can be taken individually or as a part of a certificate program.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the learner should be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to participate in an informed discussion about the cultural, social, economic and spiritual importance of plants to better relate their relevance to everyday life;
  • Recognize the characteristics of plants that make them useful as food, medicine, and industrial materials;
  • Accurately describe the cultivation and processing of a diverse array of plants to understand how many products we use every day are produced; and
  • Appreciate the impact that plants have had on the betterment of the human condition and personal pleasure and the unknown potential they still hold.

Course Topics

  • Botany Basics
  • Agriculture and Plant Domestication
  • Grains and Legumes
  • Fruits and Nuts
  • Stems, Leaves and Roots
  • Herbs, Spices and Perfumes
  • Medicinal Plants
  • Ethnobotany and the Search for New Drugs
  • Psychoactive Drugs
  • Stimulating and Intoxicating Beverages
  • Wood, Cork, Bamboo and Fibres
  • Rubber

Additional Requirements

Prerequisites: BIOL*1050 or BIOL*1070

Restrictions: BOT*1200


Assessment Item Weight
Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 25%
Quizzes (3) 30%
On-Campus Final Exam 30%
Total 100%

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

*Course details are subject to change.


Enrol Now - Select a section to enrol in

Section Title
Plants, Biology and People
January 06, 2020 to April 03, 2020
Contact Hours
Delivery Options
Course Fee(s)
Domestic Tuition Fee (0.5 units) $683.39 Click here to get more information
International Tuition Fee (0.5 units) $2,504.99 Click here to get more information
Available for Credit
0.5 units
Section Notes
Note:  If you are in a degree program at the University of Guelph, please DO NOT register using the link above.  You must register through WebAdvisor.
Section Materials
  • Textbook (Confirmed) (Mandatory) Economic Botany: Plants in Our World by B.B. Simpson and M.C. Ogorzaly McGraw-Hill Education, 2014 4th edition ISBN 9780073524245
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