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Field trip grants make fourth grade so much better
Great Lakes Echo (2/11)
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, in Mich., is one of 186 federal parks to receive a portion of the $1.1 million National Park Foundation grant to set up field trip programs.

State awards $3.6 million in grants to combat invasive species
WLUC-TV, Marquette, MI (2/11)
The Michigan departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality and Agriculture and Rural Development announced the award of 19 grant projects totaling $3.6 million, under the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program.

UT dedicates lab to analyze wide range of research jobs
The Toledo Blade (1/29)
A laboratory that opened in mid-2015 at Ohio's University of Toledo allows monitoring of water quality and detection of dangerous algal toxins in Lake Erie more accurately and faster.

TEACH Calendar of Events
What's going on in your neighborhood this month? Meet other people and learn together at recreational and educational events! Our new dynamic calendar is updated daily with current educational events.
Great Lakes native flora

table of contents
What is flora?
Brief floral history of the Great Lakes basin
The importance of native landscaping
Native plant species of the Great Lakes region
Some resources for starting your own native plant garden
Native flora fun facts!
Take a quiz!
References

What is flora?

Click for larger
image. Flora was once known as the Roman goddess of flowers, though today we use the term to refer to plant life, including trees. We'll be focusing on vascular plants, which have specialized supporting and water-conducting tissue called xylem and phloem, and typically possess roots, stems and leaves. Nonvascular plants, such as mosses, lack an internal conducting system for water and nutrients, so they depend on their immediate surroundings for moisture.

To be considered a plant, an organism must possess certain characteristics: photosynthesis, cellulose, stationary existence and lack a nervous system.

Photosynthesis is the process by which plants transform energy from the sun into the energy they need to survive. Through photosynthesis, plants are able to convert water, carbon dioxide and minerals into oxygen and energy. Without photosynthesis, there would be little food or other organic matter on Earth; the air would be full of carbon dioxide; and most organisms, including humans, would disappear.

Click for larger image. Cellulose is the basic structural component of plant cell walls, making them rigid and "boxed" shaped. Enabling the leaves and stems of a plant to stand up straight is an important function of cellulose. Plants also lack the means to move on their own as well as a nervous system. The nervous system is a group of organized cells that allow an organism to respond to sensory impulses.

Vascular plants are classified as either gymnosperms or angiosperms. Gymnosperms, meaning "naked seed," have an exposed seed, which can also include a pinecone. Softwood trees, such as conifers, are examples of gymnosperms. Angiosperms, meaning "hidden seed," include 80 percent of the Earth's plants, including all flowering plants. The seeds of angiosperms are enclosed within fruits, often called ovaries. In addition to flowering plants, hardwood trees, such as oak, maple, hickory, birch and poplar, are classified as angiosperms.

Graphics: snow trillium (credit: USDA PLANTS database); xylem and phloem model (credit: Britannica.com)

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