Inheritance and Variation of Traits
Tools & Materials
Art supplies: pencil, pens, colored pencils, crayons, watercolors, etc.
Science Notebook, Nature Journal or Plain Paper
Magnifying lens (optional)
Wildflower Field Guide (optional)
To Do & Notice
1. Wildflower Exploration:
Set Up: Find a wildflower of interest in your backyard or on a walk. You may choose to sit next to this wildflower to create your sketch or you may take a photograph or pick the wildflower and move to a more comfortable area to create your sketch. It is up to you, just make sure to capture all of the parts of the flower including the stem, leaves, and petals. **Important: Be kind to nature! Don’t pick a wildflower that is the only one in an area. A good rule of thumb is if there are more than you can easily count, then it is ok to pick.
2. Closely observe your wildflower!
Count the number of petals. Notice the shape & size of the petals, leaves and stems. Pay attention to how and where the leaves attach to the stem. All of these clues will help you identify (or name) your wildflower. Optional: use a magnifying lens to see more of the details of your wildflower.
3. Sketch your wildflower using the guided steps below or watch this Wildflower Nature Journaling Video created by Missy Mohler, SWEP Executive Director.
Begin by drawing a circle
Add crosshairs (a ‘t’) through the center of the circle
Draw a smaller circle where the lines intersect. This will be the middle of your flower where the petals attach to, called the pistol.
Use the larger circle as the boundary in which you will draw the petals. If your flower has 8 petals, draw 2 petals in each quadrant. If there are 12 petals, then each quadrant would have 3 petals. Doing this creates symmetry in the petals.
Once the petals are finished, draw the stem connecting to the pistol going down through the paper
Add the leaves of your flower by drawing a circle or oval (depending on the leaf shape) in the places that you want your leaves to be.
Then, draw a line through the middle of the circle or oval from top to bottom. This will be midrib of your leaf.
Now create the tip of the leaf by drawing a triangular tip at the top of the circle or oval. Connect the midrib line to the top of the point. Erase any extra lines, leaving the tip of the leaf and the outer edges.
If there are veins in your leaf you can add those details by drawing lines between the midrib and the outer edge of the leaf.
Now that your petals, stem, and leaves are all done touch up any areas that are needed and erase any sketching that is out of the lines.
Add color to your flower using colored pencils, markers, crayons or watercolors.
4. Identify & Label your Wildflower. Use a field guide or this link to identify your wildflower. Label your sketch with the name (common and/or scientific) of your wildflower. Optional: label the different parts of the flower. See “What’s Going On” section below to learn more about the parts of a flower.
5. Communicate Findings:
Show us your nature journal or scientific wildflower sketch. Post your photos on social media and tag us @sweptahoe on Instagram and/or to @swep4 on Facebook. Be sure to hashtag and follow #SWEPsnippets. If you cannot post directly yourself, send your photos or video to SWEP (Jenna@4swep.org).
What’s Going On
What is a Wildflower?
A wildflower is a flower that grows in the wild and was not intentionally planted or seeded by humans. It is natural to an area, and is a native plant. It is estimated that there are over 200,000 different types of wildflowers in North America.
Why are wildflowers important?
Wildflowers provide food and habitat for wildlife. They also help filter and clean water in our watershed.
Parts of a Flower:
Petals are what give a flower its unique shape, and are often brightly colored to attract insects and critters, which aid in pollination
Sepal are the small, leaf-like parts growing at the base of the petals. They serve to protect the flower before it blossoms.
Peduncle is another name for the stem or stalk of a flower.
Receptacle is the thickened part at the bottom of the flower which holds its major organs.
Pistil is the female organ of the flower. It consists of four major parts.
Stigma – The head of the pistil. The stigma receives pollen, which will begin the process of fertilization.
Style – This is the name for the stalk of the pistil. When pollen reaches the stigma, it begins to grow a tube through the style called a pollen tube, which will eventually reach the ovary. The style therefore acts as a buffer against pollen contamination, since only compatible pollen is able to grow a pollen tube.
Ovary – The base of the pistil. This organ holds the ovules awaiting fertilization.
Ovules – These are the flower’s eggs, located inside the ovary. Upon fertilization by pollen, they will eventually grow into a seed. In fruit plants, pollen will not only spark the growth of a seed, but a surrounding fruit as well.
Stamen is the male organ of the flower, consisting of two major parts:
Anther – The head of the stamen. The anther is responsible for the production of pollen, which will hopefully be transported to the pistil by animals or insects, such as bees. This is a crucial part of the reproduction of the plant.
Filament – This is the stalk that holds the anther and attaches it to the flower.
We love John Muir Laws!! Check out some of his instructional videos to learn more about how to capture nature through art:
John Muir Laws drawing wildflowers: https://johnmuirlaws.com/drawing-plants/
Draw wildflowers in the field step by step with John Muir Laws: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEOFkmnaS8o
Make Flower Press: DIY Flower Press Video
Take your wildflower (and collect more if you desire) and press them in a Flower Press ( to admire them for much longer. Use these links below to be inspired to press your wildflowers into works of art:
Thank you to Sagehen Outdoor Education Program and Tahoe Truckee Unified School District for supporting student’s outdoor learning opportunities.