Botanical Knowledge of a Group of College Students in South Carolina, U.S.A.

Date
2008
Authors
Wagner, Gail E.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Publisher
University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract
Thirty-one 18-22-year-old college students in South Carolina, U.S.A., were asked to freelist garden flowers, local grasses, local crops, and native/local trees, vines, and wildflowers/weeds. Answers were scored as correct, wrong, or inappropriate. Whereas the students could list an average of 9.0 crops, 8.4 trees, and 5.4 garden flowers correctly, they could list only 1.9 vines, 1.7 wildflowers/weeds, and 1.4 grasses correctly. Incorrect answers (answers that were wrong or inappropriate) were listed by 22.5% to 58.0% of the students depending on the domain. The types of incorrect answers given indicate a fuzzy understanding or knowledge of local ecology, plant morphology or habit, and domesticated versus wild or weedy status. Results indicate the solicited life forms or domains of plants hold unequal cultural saliency for this selection of students. Knowledge appears highest for crops, trees (particularly planted trees), and showy garden flowers, reflecting highest familiarity with the surrounding managed landscape and least familiarity with wild and less noticeable vegetation. Some answers reflect vicarious knowledge of plants rather than knowledge gained through direct experience. This study points out the need to carefully consider which domains of plant knowledge should be compared cross-culturally, and the need to quantify and examine incorrect as well as correct answers.
Description
education
Keywords
South Carolina, college students, botanical knowledge, environmental education
Citation
Wagner GE. 2008. Botanical knowledge of a group of college students in South Carolina, U.S.A. Ethnobotany Research and Applications 6:443-458.
Rights
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