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Unit Overview


This unit provides an introduction to the incredible diversity of the land plants emphasising the flora of Western Australia. Students are provided with a fundamental knowledge of plant systematics regarding taxonomy, classification, plant morphology, practical plant uses and phylogenetic study. The unit is designed to incorporate both new and traditional methods to provide a foundation in the study of the diversity of plants from a phylogenetic perspective. All major groups of plants (from Glaucocystis to angiosperms) are introduced with an emphasis on the most common plant groups found in the Western Australian flora. The theory and practical use of phylogeny are applied directly to the plant groups studied in the unit. Practicals include living and herbarium specimens for first-hand examples of the plant groups and their characteristics.

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Botany; Environmental Science and Ecology; Biodiversity and Evolution; Plant Biology major sequences
  • Level 2 elective

Students are able to (1) identify and understand the diversity of the major groups of land plants in a phylogenetic context; (2) understand the importance of phylogeny in modern day plant classification; (3) understand and use plant morphology in the context of plant taxonomy and classification; (4) gain field experience of many of the angiosperm families and some genera common to Australia; and (5) use their skills to identify plants of Western Australia.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) a practical test; (2) assignments; and (3) a written examination. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Pieter Poot and Dr Kosala Ranathunge
Unit rules
Successful completion of any one Unit(s)
BIOL1130 Frontiers in Biology
or BIOL1131 Plant and Animal Biology
or SCIE1106 Molecular Biology of the Cell
or SCIX1106 Molecular Biology of the Cell
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
practicals: 3 hour per week
field trip: one day

Majer, S and Burrows, G. Botanical Field Guide: Aracaria Guides, Mullumbimby, NSW, 2011.


Harris, J. G. and Woolf-Harris, M. Plant Identification Terminology: an Illustrated Glossary: Spring Lake Publishing 1994

Simpson, M. G. Plant Systematics: Elsevier Academic Press 2006

Barrett, R. and Tay, E. P. Perth Plants: a Field Guide to the Bushland and Coastal Flora of Kings Park and Bold Park, Perth, Western Australia: Botanical Gardens and Parks Authority 2005

Other local plant identification guides will be useful, For example:

Blackall, W. E. and Grieve, B. J. How to Know Western Australian Wildflowers, parts 1 to 5: UWA Press 1980

Corrick, M. G. et al. Wildflowers of Southern Western Australia: The Five Mile Press 1996

    Marshall, J. Wildflowers of the West Coast Hills Region: Quality Publishing 1995

Thiele, K. R. and Adams L. G. Families of Flowering Plants of Australia: an Interactive Identification Guide, rev.: Australian Biological Resources Study/CSIRO Publishing 2002 (CD-ROM)

Wheeler, J. et al. Flora of the South West, parts 1 and 2: UWA Press 2002

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.