Many seeds, leaves, roots, and stems contain chemical compounds that may help plants avoid being eaten by animals, including humans. In some cases, we have co-opted these plant defenses for the sake of recreational enjoyment, and there is often a fine line between poison and pleasure. This unique class explores plants as intoxicants from two perspectives: how past and present-day humans have used them and what role this use plays in our society; and why plants produce these chemicals, and what roles these compounds play in their evolutionary history.
Sandy Namoff received her PhD from California Botanic Garden where she studied evolutionary processes in Calystegia (morning glories). Most recently she taught biology at Chaffey College.
Nick Jensen received his PhD from California Botanic Garden where he studied the flora of Tejon Ranch and evolutionary patterns in Streptanthus (jewelflowers). Nick is currently employed as Lad Conservation Scientist for the California Native Plant Society.