Friday, March 13, 2009

Classroom under the Canopy of Trees

I got a dose of Plant Taxonomy 101 in UPLB yesterday. I was inquiring about a few tree species in Mt. Makiling with Prof. Nelson Pampolina and he suggested that I attend a forestry class instead. So as early as 8 am I took a bus going to Los Banos and close to noon I was already in the Upper Campus.

At exactly 1 PM I found Prof Pampolina's class on the front steps of Forest Biological Sciences Building. The students were all like they were going to the market place, equipped with a bayong, a bolo and a hard hat - tools they use in entering the forest and collecting samples. At that instance they were conferring with each other and murmuring softly the names of plants I have not heard of. When the professor emerged from the FBS building he herded the students under the towering canopy trees (which include the likes of tekla, amugis, bolon, lanutan and a lot more). He instructed them to form a circle at copying-proof distance. Apparently they were going to have an exam.

The students brought out clipboards, paper and pen. Immediately the lab assistants brought out their loot from within a nylon bag - 50 pieces of cuttings from different plants all around the forest campus. The exam requires the students to name the plant's biological and vernacular names and the plant family it belongs to. The cuttings were passed around.

I sat around with the class, most of the time inquiring with Prof Pampolina the variety of native plants suitable for landscape use. But in between I try to look at the 50 specimens circulating, seeing how i would fare in identifying them. I think I fared poorly as I could only identify around 14 species. Students appear to be also having a hard time but some just breezed through the identification. Sigh!

Prof. Pampolina was telling me that the Landscape Arch program in Diliman should have some sort of link to UPLB Forestry and Horticulture. BLA or MTLA students should be required to take a few native flora classes in UPLB to strengthen their backgound not only in taxonomy but also their knowledge of Philippine flora. In doing so the landscape people could earlier know the going-ons in the propagation and maintenance of their primary landscape material-softscape.

After the exam Prof Pampolina gave me a short plant tour of the forestry area. I found muh more promising tree species, apart from the plants already in my list. Just goes to show that here in the Philippines we have a rich plant palette to use, if we only know how and where to use them.

No comments: