What's That Plant?

A new fun and interactive plant module called “What’s That Plant?” has been developed for educators to use with children grades K-12.

The series of activities help students develop an awareness of fourteen plants that are important culturally and ecologically by exploring these native plants in their communities. The module includes four activities:

  • Activity 1 - “Plant Bingo” is an audio bingo game that teaches Cherokee, scientific and the common names of fourteen plants.
  • Activity 2 - “Plants and the Cherokee”, is a movie that shows the Cherokee cultural significance of each plant. (Requires purchasing a movie – see resource list).
  • Activity 3 - “Plants Outdoors” takes children outside with a set of small cards that they can use to identify plants in their communities.
  • Activity 4 - “Native Plant Garden” provides information on creating a native plant garden.

Fourteen individual Plant Information Sheets (ZIP; 29.3 MB) provide information about traditional uses of each plant, as well as its ecological significance, ways to identify it, sustainability issues, and correct harvesting methods.

This module is available for educators to download. See the right sidebar on this page for links to the individual activity files.

The materials comprising this educational module

What's That Plant? – Plant Module materials provide fun, interactive games for children grades K-12. Photo by Julia Kirschman, U.S. Forest Service.

About the Plant Module

The U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) collaborated to develop this education module for children grades K-12.

The plant module focused on fourteen culturally and scientific significant plants, such as, white oak, flowering dogwood, ramps, and sochan. The module integrated traditional ecological knowledge from the EBCI tribe and scientific knowledge from SRS researchers. The goal of this partnership was to incorporate current science-based knowledge of the ecosystems where Cherokee youth live and to complement the traditional knowledge passed down from generation to generation.

Southern Research Station and Bent Creek Experimental Forest staff developed the module with input from many experts.

Portrait of Jerry Wolfe, Elder with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Jerry Wolfe, Elder with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, provided knowledge about the Cherokee language in relation to culturally significant plants for the plant module. Photo by Sarah Farmer, U.S. Forest Service.

Goal of the Plant Module

The goal is to develop youth who will become wise stewards of the Earth. The young people who participate in the program will develop a heightened awareness of the natural world around them – including the challenges they face in protecting cultural and natural resources.

For more information, email Julia Kirschman at jekirschman@fs.fed.us.

How to Play

Please download the “What’s That Plant?” Plant Module Guide (PDF; 935 KB) for full instructions.


Contact Information

USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station

  • Designer
    Julia Kirschman, Technology Transfer Specialist, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station (SRS)
    Asheville, NC
    828-667-5261 ext. 104
  • Editor
    Sarah Farmer, Multimedia Information Specialist, USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station (SRS)
    Asheville, NC

USDA Forest Service, National Forest in NC

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

EBCI Elder

  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
    Jerry Wolfe, Cherokee Elder, Museum of the Cherokee Indian
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
    Mary and Janie Brown, Cherokee
    Robbinsville, NC
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
    Mary Miller, Cherokee Elder, plant specialist
    Robbinsville, NC

Native Plant Germplasm Repository

  • North Carolina Arboretum
    Joanne McCoy, Asheville, NC

NC Cooperative Extension - EBCI Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian

  • David Cozzo
    Area Specialized Agent, Agriculture Extension Officer

Junaluska Memorial and Museum