Ethnobotany Introduction

Over the last few weeks we have taken a journey through the human evolutionary story, beginning with the foundations of evolutionary thought after the Scientific Revolution, understanding the genetic basis of natural selection, heredity, and genetic variation, and examining our own hominin ancestral roots since our first bipedal ancestors around 6 million years ago. Around 10,000 years ago modern Homo sapiens began to domesticate plants and animals and laid the foundations for agricultural production, permanent settlements, urbanization, and social hierarchies. These were developments which would alter the course of our evolutionary story and began a trend of increasing exploitation of our natural environments.
We have seen how the process of evolution is about the adaptation of species to their environments. From an ecological perspective this means that thinking about human evolution also means thinking about the surrounding environments and the co-evolution of plants and animals (including humans). Plants are a REALLY important part of our lives, both for sustenance but also for cultural reasons. We eat food, but we also eat food in culturally specific ways. We prepare different dishes with different flavors and we even eat them in different ways. We also use plants as parts of rituals, religious ceremonies, and place symbolic value on plants and flowers. We use plants as drugs to alter our state of mind. We use them as medicine. Across the world, plants and humans are intimately intertwined in unique ways.
Your Task:
For this assignment, you will create individual contributions toward a collective ethnobotany. In the end, we will have a collection of ethnobotanies that demonstrate the diversity of relations between ourselves and various plants.
Choose any plant that has some sort of significance in your life, a plant with personal connection
1. Choose any plant that has personal meaning to you in your own life. It might be a grain, herb, or other edible plant whose taste or smell connects you to certain memories, places, holidays, or family members. This may be a plant with cultural or religious meaning to you or your family. It may be a decorative plant with close personal connection from your childhood or today. Reflect on a plant that has had some sort of influence in your life, illustrating the important cultural connections that we humans have with the plant world.
2. Provide the following information:
a. English Name
b. Taxonomic classification information
c. Identifying characteristics
d. Geographic distribution and habitat
e. Cultural history of its use as food/Medicine/Other cultural or practical applications
f. Include a picture and/or create a drawing of the plant for identification purposes.
3. Describe the personal connection that ties you to this plant. This is your opportunity to BE CREATIVE… Include a recipe, or instructions for how it may be used by others. Offer one or two yummy recipes for food, drinks, or other ways that this plant can be used by our fellow humans. Maybe you prefer to write a short story or poem.
You may choose to do this as a document, powerpoint slide( poster style), pamphlet, photo story, or other creative application…!
Include a bibliography for any information you use.

Please share with everyone the plant that you chose to research and write about in lab 4! Tell us a bit about its connection to you and some interesting information about the plant. (Note: You do not need to share your actual ethnobotany, just information from it)
OPTIONAL REPLIES: In your (optional) reply posts, choose two plants that others chose that may also have some resonance in your life. Does its connection to your life differ from how your classmates describe it? Is it very similar? Do you know other ways that the particular plant can be used as food, medicine, religious symbolism, perfume, etc?
By creating this forum we can learn from each other and synthesize a growing record of how to use different plants and explore the cultural diversity of our class as it relates to plants!

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Part Two (Please do separately )
do you think that humans will survive for HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF YEARS? Why or why not?
Consider the time scale of human evolution, how long bipedal hominins have existed, how long Homo sapiens have existed.
What does the future of humans and human evolution look like do you think? Are we even still evolving if we can manipulate DNA and genetic information?
What do you think?!?

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