Featured Collection

January 2001

Introduction to the Plant Kingdom

Image of algae smeared on a hand

Photograph of algae smeared on a human hand. Copyright (c) Dr. C.M. Sean Carrington. Used with permission.

Dr. C.M. Sean Carrington, Department of Biological and Chemical Sciences, University of the West Indies, created the web site Introduction to the Plant Kingdom for his first year biology students at the University, but the web site is well worth a visit from anyone who would like to increase their knowledge of plant biology.

Dr. Carrington provided the following background information about his web site:

"The Caribbean is an archipelago and we had students doing our first year courses at community colleges on other islands. In order to ensure they had equal exposure to the course material being taught face-to-face on this campus, I developed the web site. In preparation, I attended a two-day workshop, which gave me the inspiration and basic skills for developing the web-based course. I am a firm believer that in the not too distant future it will only be the children of the very rich who will be taught by someone in front of a chalk board -- the vast majority of the world will be educated through computer-based materials. My design skills improved as I went along so that the earliest modules now need further polishing to bring them up to the standard of the later ones. One thing that came through loud and clear is the level of goodwill and cooperation out there. Without exception everyone I approached to seek permission to use their images was more than willing to grant it once they looked at the site, and they also appreciated that the site was non-commercial. A major, ongoing challenge is maintaining all the hyperlinks and, moreover, adding new hyperlinks to the site as they become available online. In the end, the site seems to be used as much by my own students here in the Caribbean as others all over the globe."

The Website is organized as 15 "chapters" the first of which presents an overview that answers the question, "What is a plant?" Subsequent chapters introduce the plant kingdom from an evolutionary perspective beginning with algae and continuing through seed plants. Lectures and labs are enriched with a generous number of illustrations, photographs (most of which were taken by Dr. Carrington), figures, tables, and internal and external links to additional resources.


Photograph of a freshly opened flower (left), the same with the perianth removed (center) and a later stage (right) of a Soursop, Annona muricata. Copyright © Dr. C.M Sean Carrington. Used with permission.

In addition to the lectures, the Introduction to the Plant Kingdom web site also offers six labs, class handouts, a glossary, a bibliography and a resource list of links organized by topic.

The web site has received many accolades and very successfully meets Dr. Carrington’s stated goals for the site:

  • To get you to like plants!
  • To train you to recognise the major plant groups
  • To familiarise you with the life cycles and modes of reproduction of these groups
  • To help you understand how the land plants evolved from simple algal ancestors

Introduction to the Plant Kingdom is located at <http://scitec.uwichill.edu.bb/bcs/bl14apl/bl14apl.htm>.

Copyright (c) 2001 Corporation for National Research Initiatives

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DOI: 10.1045/january2001-featured.collection