I had my first class yesterday evening, and while it looks to be a fairly challenging one, it also looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. It's Botany level I, and will consist mostly of lectures and contour drawings of plants. Fortunately my Bunny has been giving me quite the refresher on contour drawings this summer.
The teacher is really nice, very (ahem) down-to-earth. She has arranged for one of the other students to take notes and email them to me in order to give my elbow a nice rest so I can concentrate on the drawings, and she is going to arrange for me to take the final exam a day or two early, as it is scheduled for Winter Solstice and there is no way I'm spending Yule writing an exam, even one on botany.
Here's some way cool stuff I learned in class last night:
- clorophyll isn't green; it absorbs red and blue light and reflects green light, hence it only appears green, just like the sea only appears blue.
- even way clever biochemists don't actually understand the whole process of photosynthesis.
- there are two different ways that leaves change colours: in one way, all the clorophyll breaks down into tannin, revealing the other two pigments, carotene and carotenoid, which appear yellow or red - this his how birches work; in the other way, clorophyll breaks down on warm days into sugar, which is trapped in the leaf on cold nights and changed to the bright red pigment anthocynin - this is how maples work.
- in the tropical rainforests, there are carnivorous plants that grow pitchers large enough to decompose rodents and birds. These pitchers develop at the tip of a slender extension of the midrib (centre line) of the leaves of the plant. There's a pretty good picture of one here:http://www.omnisterra.com/botany/cp/pictures/nepenthe/pics/neog3.jpg.