This page contains several plant-related activities that have been put together by members of the Lancaster Photosynthesis Group. We hope that you enjoy these activities, learn something new, and develop a fascination of plants.
What is your Inner Plant?
Lots of plants are studied at Lancaster University and all of them have different characters and preferences just like we do. Take this plant-themed personality quiz to find out which plant you are most similar to!
Fascinating Plant Microscopy Quiz
Plants have some amazing and beautiful structures that can only be seen down the microscope. Can you identify the plant structures in this quiz?
How to Grow Food at Home
In this video Catherine Walsh shares many helpful tips about growing food at home, including how to prepare a homemade tonic that will help make your plants more stress-tolerant.
How to Make a Bee Hotel
Bees pollinate our trees and flowers to supply our food, here is some information about how you can help bees by providing a place for them to shelter and rest.
How to Make a Seed Bomb
Wildflowers encourage pollinators to visit your garden, this information sheet will show you how you can easily grow wildflowers at home.
Interactive Map of Crops
We research many species of plants, including some of the worlds most important crop species. Use this map to see where Cassava, Maize, Rice, Soybean, and Wheat are grown across the world, and find some facts about some other interesting plant species. Note: you will need to download the map, then open ‘InteractiveMap.html’ in your internet browser.
These recipes use some of the plants that we research, including Black-eyed beans (also known as black-eyed peas or cowpeas), Cassava, and more. Black-eyed beans can be purchased pre-cooked, in water, in ~400g cans. They are available from most supermarkets in the UK. If you buy them dry (e.g. from wholefood places), soak for 4-6 hours, rinse, add water to twice the volume of cowpeas, bring to the boil, add a pinch of salt and cook on low for at least 1 hour (or until the cowpeas are soft). Cassava can be purchased from the frozen vegetable section in supermarkets.
Salad: Tuna with cowpeas “Atum com feijão frade”
½ onion, finely chopped
~400 g cooked cowpeas
1 can of tuna
2 boiled eggs
Fresh chopped parsley (to taste, can be replaced by coriander if you prefer)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Olive oil (to taste)
Combine all ingredients, mix well, and enjoy!
Variations include adding lettuce and chopped fresh tomato.
Smoked mackerel can also be used in place of the tuna.
Dip: Cowpea dip “Pasta de feijão frade”
1 cup cooked cowpeas
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup coriander leaves (other herbs fine too)
1/2 lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Blend everything and serve with bread or your favourite crackers!
Curry: Cowpea curry
~400 g cooked cowpeas
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Curry powder or other spices to taste
Cook the onion in the olive oil until light brown. Add the garlic, cook for 1-2 min.
Add the tomatoes and the curry powder / spices. Stir well and cook for 3-4 min.
Add the cowpeas and some water to lightly cover them.
Cook on low-medium heat for at least 30 min.
Serve with rice or chapati.
Multigrain / whole wheat bread
1 ½ cup white bread flour
1 ¼ cup malthouse flour or wholewheat flour
½ cup oats
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp yeast
1 tbsp seeds of your choice (pumpkin, sunflower)
12 oz (360 mL) water
Add all dry ingredients to a glass bowl. Mix with the handle of a wooden spoon (use the handle instead of the spoon as it works much better). Add the water and mix with the spoon handle until a homogeneous mixture.
Cover the bowl with a reusable wrap (can use cling film) and cover the whole bowl with a large tea towel. Let the yeast do its job for a minimum of 8 hours; 12-18 hours is best, especially if the temperature is lower than 20°C.
Remove the covers and mix well, add some flour around the sides, mix and transfer to the tray where cooking will take place. Let proof for 1.5-2 hours.
Warm up oven to 180°C, once warm, cook bread for 20 min with cover (can use foil if tray has no cover), plus 10 min uncovered.
Let cool and enjoy!
Recipe inspired by the videos of Artisan Bread with Steve (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OmME9lZtwo)
Check out the videos for a variety of yummy bread types!
Cassava chips “Yuca frita”
600 g of frozen or fresh whole cassava
Vegetable oil (for deep-frying)
Salt (to season)
If using fresh cassava, peel it, cut it into chunks and remove the vein from the middle (see pictures). Cook the cassava in lightly salted boiling water for about 20 minutes, or until soft.
Drain and cut into batons.
Fill deep-fryer one-third full of vegetable oil and heat to 200°C.
Deep-fry cassava chips, in batches, until golden and crisp.
Drain on a paper towel.
Season with salt and serve with preferred dip/salsa.
About Fascination of Plants Day
Fascination of Plants Day is intended to spread enthusiasm about plants and to spark fascination with the essential roles that plants play. These include; carbon sequestration from the atmosphere, sustainable production of food, and the production of many other products, including paper, timber, pharmaceuticals and many more. Fascination of Plants Day occurs every two years on the 18th of May. You can find more information about Fascination of Plants Events here.
To find out more about our research on Plants, please visit the Lancaster Environment Centre website.