Plant Facilities of UC Davis

I am an Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity major and a huge biology nerd with a special passion for herpetology, but before going through the BIS 2C labs – tracing plant evolution from bryophytes through monocots, and studying the adaptations of the miraculous plant world – I had never bothered giving plants much thought. My eyes were opened as a 2nd year when I took BIS 2C. I am now a plant enthusiast almost as much as I am a snake enthusiast, and I credit UC Davis and our incredible plant facilities and collections on campus to sparking my interest. Here are a few of the many plant facilities that UC Davis has to offer.

The Arboretum

Probably the most popular plant exhibit on campus – the Arboretum is a long stretch of gardens, plant collections, and paved walkways along the pond where the North fork of Putah Creek historically flowed. Among their plant collections include the Shields Oak Grove on the West side of the Arboretum, with an astounding diversity of large oak species, and the T. Elliot Weier Redwood Grove, a perfect spot for a nicely shaded picnic near the Southeast side of campus. The Arboretum is lined with plant collections from around the world, including South American, Mediterranean, South West U.S.A./Mexican, East Asian, and California foothill collections. The Arboretum is open to the public all day, all week, and all year and seasonally holds plant sales. Last year I bought my first carnivorous plant at the Arboretum plant sales!

Plant Conservatory

Most of us are probably aware of the greenhouse on top of the Science Laboratory Building, but have you been inside? Did you know that the Science Lab greenhouse is just the start of what the UC Davis Plant Conservatory has to offer? The Plant Conservatory runs a lot of the campus’s plant propagation needs, including preparing divisions for the Arboretum plant sales. In addition to the Science Lab Building greenhouse, the Conservatory operates several greenhouses with an astounding collection of tropical and arid plants located behind Storer Hall. The greenhouses operated by the Plant Conservatory are open to the public for drop in hours during the day as well as guided tours – check the Center for Plant Diversity website for more information.

Center for Plant Diversity Herbarium

In addition to the Plant Conservatory greenhouses, the Center for Plant Diversity provides a great resource for researchers, amateur plant biologists, or anyone with a curiosity for plant identification. The Herbarium is a repository of over 300,000 preserved plant samples and lengthy species keys managed by UC Davis resident plant identification experts. You can take samples to the Herbarium for accurate identification, free of charge for the first 5 times each year. The Herbarium is now located in the Science Laboratory Building on the first floor, right next to the Biology Academic Success Center!

Other plant resources

The CAES greenhouses, west of campus by the stadium, are available to rent space through a simple google form.

The Plant Conservatory’s controlled environment facilities serve as an incredibly helpful research tool to plant, agriculture, and environmental sciences among others. These state-of-the-art climate controlled chambers are available to rent monthly.

Hopefully attending a school with such a strong reputation in agriculture and plant biology will instill in you an interest for plants like it did me. It’s a great time to start learn how to garden or pick up some interesting house plants. Here are my indoor plants I’ve collected since taking BIS 2C:

Justin Waskowiak
BASC Peer Advisor
Third Year: Evolution, Ecology, and Biodiversity

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Why Major in Plant Biology?

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Stop and smell the roses! Seriously….. that plant could be sustaining you on this planet! Plants are the prime cushions against climate change and are the main source of food for all of Earth’s organisms. So, why not major in plant biology and learn about this useful resource? The program offers a general principle of biology, but also includes plant-specific classes that deals with the advanced outlook of plant biology. The plant biology courses focus on physiology, development, and anatomy.

The program begins with the preparatory subject matter, which includes courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and organic chemistry. Following the preparatory work, the program includes 43- 46 units of depth subject matter. This portion consists of the primary biology courses, plant biology courses, and restricted electives. The restricted elective portion is 15 units and there is a list of courses a student has approval to take. For those of you who are interested in a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology, plant biology is a great option too.

Plant biology also offers a minor! The minor is 18 units and the courses can be chosen from the four groups listed in the general catalog. 18 units works out to be about 4 to 5 courses and make sure to always check the prerequisites for the course you may choose!

Some students might ask, ” What could I possibly do with a major in plants?” Well, these course are very useful! For example, a lot of plant biology researchers are using their knowledge in plant cell biology and molecular biology to apply to human sciences.  A plant biology major is perfect for students wanting to enter graduate school, medical school, or even law and journalism! Plant biologists can work in the laboratory or field, forestry, botanical gardens and nurseries, agricultural companies, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, energy and chemical industries or environmental protection. To take a closer look at the career opportunities and major requirements see the general catalog at http://catalog.ucdavis.edu/programs/PLB/PLBcourses.html or visit the plant biology page at http://www-plb.ucdavis.edu/ to find out more information.

If after reading this post you feel like you are ready to try plant biology or continue in plant biology feel free to stop by the Biology Academic Success Center to get help from our wonderful team.

Brenda Garibay

Second year

Biological Sciences

BASC Peer Advisor