FYS 191 Sense and Essence in Nature

First Year Seminar
Faculty:  Lale Burk

Spring 2011, Fall 2011/2012

This writing-intensive seminar will deal with fragrant plants, focusing on their science (chemistry, botany, physiology of detection), their history, including past and present use across cultures, their economic significance, and their depiction in art and in literature.

Students will write a long research paper on a fragrant plant of their choice, based on regular observations of their plant during the course of the semester and visits to the Rare Book Room to become acquainted with herbals and their plant’s early history.

One session in the Plant House will involve using microscopes to observe the structures within the plant associated with fragrance e.g., glandular hairs and/or oil glands.

Students will propagate scented geraniums from cuttings and monitor their growth, and observe and record life cycles of bulbs from the dormant or embryonic stage to flowering, the development of fragrance, eventual loss of fragrance and return to dormancy.

Other student projects may include preparation of educational plant labels on fragrance (including the major chemical constituents responsible for the fragrance) and/or a visitor pamphlet with similar information; a poster session; and/or an interactive display of selected plant fragrances modeled on the University of Hamburg’s display at the “touch and smell” gardens.

Tree gardenia flowers