Many introductory biology laboratories include a session devoted to plant anatomy. Students often view these laboratory sessions as tedious, laborious, and requiring little more than memorization of slides. Thus, students do not sufficiently learn the fundamentals of plant anatomy, nor do they develop an appreciation of histological techniques and comparative approaches that can be used in biology. I propose the use of plant anatomy laboratory exercises in which students not only view prepared slides, but they also prepare their own slides. In the laboratory exercise I will describe, students use histological techniques for the staining of biological tissues to identify slides containing unknown plants. Through this approach, students not only make a more detailed study of plant anatomy, but they also learn fundamentals of histological techniques, concepts related to cell wall biochemistry, and how to conduct comparative analyses. It has been my experience that students develop a greater understanding of plant anatomy and key anatomical concepts through the use of this approach.

Key words: histological techniques, laboratory exercises, plant anatomy, techniques