NPLK14011U Tropical Botany

Volume 2020/2021

MSc Programme in Agriculture
MSc Programme in Environment and Development
MSc Programme in Forest and Nature Management


The common curriculum consists of a selection of important tropical plant families, genera, and species with emphasis on the morphology, the systematics and the the utilization of the plants. e.g. as medicinal plants, crops, timber, or ornamentals. 

In addition, the students will, either individually or in groups, work in-depth with families, genera, and species of their own choice.

Characteristics of the relevant biomes will be introduced.

The course will include 1) lectures, 2) demonstrations of plant material, 3) visits to the greenhouse, Botanical Garden, and markeds, 4) independent self study.

The course is addressed to students who plan to study tropical agriculture, forestry, horticulture, crop protection in the tropics, tropical plant pathology, animal husbandry in the tropical, tropical landscape architecture or other tropical and Third World subjects. Students contemplating a career within agencies or institutions in the developing countries will find the course to be of relevance.

Learning Outcome

Learning outcome
The overall learning outcome is to provide students with the necessary skills and competences through ex-situ experiences to study tropical agriculture, forestry, horticulture, crop protection in the tropics, tropical plant pathology, animal husbandry, tropical landscape architecture or other tropical and Third World subjects.


After this course, the students will be able to

- identify important tropical families through analysis of morphological characters.

- list the most important usages of tropical plants, and their ecological requirements.

- describe a plant using the proper morphological terms.

- list the most important characteristics of the relevant biomes.

- use the correct scientific and English nomenclature of tropical plants

The skill set gained from this course will allow the students to work with different aspects of tropical plants, e.g. as a researcher or advisor within the fields of agriculture, forestry, horticulture incl. crop protection, and animal husbandry in the tropics.

The students will be able to provide an inventory of a plot, and advise about plant biodiversity, genetic resoures, land restoration, landscaping, and sustainable production.

Heywood, V.H., Brummitt, R.K., Culham, A. & Seberg, O. 2007. Flowering Plant Families of the World. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 

Simpson, M.G. 2010. Plant systematics. Elsevier Academic Press Publications.

Walter, H. & Breckle, S-W. 2002. Walter's Vegetation of the Earth: The Ecological Systems of the Geo-Biosphere. New York: Springer-Verlag

Bramley, G & Utteridge T. 2015. The Kew tropical Plant Familiies identification Handbook. Kew Publishing

Basic botany

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
The core plant families and associated concepts will be reviewed in lectures with emphasis on student participation during the first 2/3 of the course. The latter 1/3 will be dedicated to independent study of the students’ chosen families and a report. Each student will also give an oral presentation. Dried plant material, textbooks, floras, various illustrative materials will be included. The final grade is determined from the average of the equally-weighted grades from the oral examination and the written report.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 15
  • Class Instruction
  • 12
  • Preparation
  • 65
  • Theory exercises
  • 15
  • Practical exercises
  • 27
  • Project work
  • 50
  • Guidance
  • 20
  • Exam
  • 2
  • Total
  • 206
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 30 min
Written assignment
Oral exam accounts for app. 50% and the written course assignment (prepared during the course) for app. 50% towards to the total mark. An overall assesment is made. No preparation time before the oral examination.
Exam registration requirements

Student presentation of chosen 'crop(s)'

Without aids

No aids for the oral examination.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner.

As the ordinary exam.

If the requirements are not met the student must do the presentation of chosen 'crop(s)' to the course coordinator two weeks before the reexamination at the latest.

Criteria for exam assesment

- of tropical plants of agronomic, forestry and horticultural importance, and the specific utilised parts of each crop, e.g. seed(s), legumes/pods, roots/tubers, grains, etc.
- of selected tropical plant families and their origin and ecology
- of the correct scientific and English names of tropical plants
Comprehends the causal connections of abiotic/biotic ecological factors in tropical regions