ACCA Field Botany


Learn to identify plants in the field by studying the plants of the Chicago region.
In this introduction to the plant diversity around Chicago, you will learn field and laboratory techniques for identifying plant families and species and develop an understanding of plant habitats and distribution. We will discuss the structure of plants, scientific names and botanical terminology, evolutionary relationships among plant families, and characteristic plant communities of the region. During outdoor hikes and field trips at the Arboretum and in the greater Chicago region, you will use botanical keys and manuals for the area to identify plants in their natural habitats and will learn collection techniques.

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

  • Describe principles of plant classification, identification, and naming
  • Use advanced techniques for identifying unknown plants using dichotomous keys and field guides
  • Identify the characteristics of plant families commonly found in the Chicago Region
  • Know important morphological characters of plants used in identification
  • Compare plant strategies for reproduction and interactions with other species
  • Describe important plant communities found in the Chicago Region
  • Prepare and preserve plants for a permanent collection

Instructor: Sarah Richardson, Ph.D. Department of Biological Sciences, DePaul University
Notes: Students are expected to provide their own transportation to sites and to cover their own expenses on field trips.
Administrator: Megan Dunning, Manager of Adult Learning Programs,
Prerequisite: General Biology and previous coursework in one of: Botany or Ecology
Credit: 4 semester hours (or equivalent), upper division undergraduate
Required texts: Mohlenbrock, R. H.  2013.  Vascular Flora of Illinois, 4th edition.  Southern Illinois University Press. Carbondale, Ill. Harris, J. G. and M. W. Harris. 2001. Plant Identification Terminology, 2nd ed. Spring lake Publishers.
Required equipment: Field notebook, 10×-20× hand lens (AKA "jeweler's loupe")
Optional text: Zomlefer, W. B. 1994. Guide to Flowering Plant Families. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill.
Course Website:

Schedule and Location

Wednesdays, June 13 through August 1, 2018. 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., and Saturdays, June 16 through July 28, 2018, 9:00 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.
Except on Saturday,  July 14, class will meet 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
(No class Saturday, June 30 or Wednesday July 4.) 

Cudahy Room, Administration Building
The Morton Arboretum
4100 Illinois Route 53
Lisle, Illinois 60532

Fees and Admission

Nonmembers: Fees include admission to the Arboretum. 

Registration Information

Please contact the Biology Department faculty at the participating A.C.C.A. institution from which you wish to receive credit. You must register through the Registrar’s Office at your home institution AND through the Registrar’s Office at The Morton Arboretum.  For more information or to register through the Arboretum, please contact.

The Morton Arboretum Registrar's Office
630-719-2468 or
(Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.)