Getting Plants into Different Areas of Biology

The solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems (e.g., climate change, sustainability, biodiversity loss, feeding a growing human population) will, at least in part, come from plant scientists. We need more plant scientists and a more plant science literate society. And yet, the Royal Society of Biology’s ‘Evolving 5-19 biology: recommendations and framework for 5-19 biology curricula’ states that there is evidence of zoocentrism in pupils, teachers, and textbooks. They also state that ‘there have been high-level calls for the increased inclusion of plant-related learning opportunities in all levels of the biology curriculum to help overcome ‘plant blindness’…’ and one of their recommendations is ‘The biology curriculum should provide pupils of all ages with ample opportunities to learn about plants and other organisms, in addition to humans and other animals’ (Recommendation 5).

As well as its role in getting more plant scientists and plant science literate people, we believe that embedding plants throughout biology makes good educational sense and better ‘all round’ biologists.

Embedding plants throughout biology helps to:

  • Reduce compartmentalisation of knowledge within biology and help students make cross topic links
  • Highlight general principles in biology by showing they have wide applicability
  • Link learning to what students experience in their lives outside of lessons (e.g., the nature they see around them, the food they eat, the plant products they interact with)

Teachers need to be ‘plant proud’ for the benefit of their students, society, and the whole of humanity.


Using the document/spreadsheet

This document aims to be a searchable collection of ideas for using plants in the teaching of all aspects of biology. It will continue to grow as we gather more ideas and link to more resources (please share your ideas with us at Feel free to download the document to use for your own purposes but do pop back and check for updates from time to time.


Download the document

Getting plants into your A-level biology topics 


Some ideas are just to spark an idea for you to run with whilst others have links to ‘ready to go’ resources. 

Each row in the document is an idea for using plants in biology teaching. There are three columns that categorise biology from broad themes down into more narrow topics. These categories are not a suggestion of how biology teaching should be arranged, they are just there to help you find ideas for areas you’re interested in, whether these areas are quite broad or very specific.

You can filter by the ‘concepts’, ‘topics’ or ‘sections’ columns to target the list of ideas to the parts of biology in which you are looking for inspiration. Or you can use the ‘Find’ function (Ctrl + F) to find cells that contain a word of interest.


Examples of how to use the document

Below are two examples of how the document might be used:

  • If you’re planning the teaching of a particular topic and want to get ideas for how you might make some links to plants you can use the filter function. Click on the filter arrow in the headings of the ‘concepts’, ‘topics’ and ‘sections’ columns in turn until you find your topic. Click on the ‘Select all’ tick of that filter menu to deselect all the options and then click on the box next to the name of your topic. Then click ‘Apply’. You should then see all the ideas relevant to your topic.
  • If you’re not sure of a topic but you want to look for ideas linked to a particular word or phrase then you could use the ‘Find’ function. Click anywhere on the document (make sure that no filters are still applied so you’re able to search the whole document) and then press the ‘Ctrl’ and ‘F’ keys together. Type in your word or phrase and then click the ‘Find next’ button. This will highlight a cell with your word or phrase in it and indicate that the row that cell is in might contain an idea of interest to you. Keep clicking the ‘Find next’ button to find further cases of your word or phrase in the document. Eventually it will cycle back round to the first cell that had been identified, at which point you have seen all the cases of your word or phrase in the document.

Download the document

Getting plants into your biology teaching

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