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Submitted by: Beatrice Sailor
Mid-Pacific Institute
Honolulu, HI

TOPIC: Monocots and Dicots

Oshibana is the Japanese art of making pictures with pressed plants. This concept can be applied in biology and life science classes in the study of monocots and dicots. After the class has studied the characteristics of monocots and dicots (number of cotyledons, number of flower pats, leaf venation, and vascular tissue), introduce your students to the art of oshibana by making book markers, stationary, cards, small pictures that can be framed, etc.

Bring your students outdoors and collect specimens of monocots and dicots -- flowers, leaves, whole tiny plants, and press them. Place specimens between pieces of plain bond paper or waxed paper and place them between the pages of telephone books or science catalogs. Make your pictures after the specimens are nicely pressed and before they lose their color.


  • pressed plant flowers, stems, leaves and other small articles of interest such as tiny shells
  • colored construction paper or colored bond paper
  • Japanese rice paper (or thin tissue paper/thin paper towels) or self-laminating sheets
  • glue mixture: 1 part white glue (Elmer's) to one part water (use a little more water if too thick)
  • small brush


  1. Mix 1:1 glue and water.
  2. Cut construction paper to size and form desired.
  3. Arrange plant parts on construction paper; add shells, sparkles, glitter, writing, etc. if desired.
  4. Place rice paper on top of plant parts.
  5. Brush on glue mixture lightly on top until rice paper is thoroughly wet but not soaking.
  6. Let dry.

Note: Thin tissue paper or thin paper towels can be used in place of rice paper; or use self-laminating plastic in step 4 and omit steps 5 & 6.

This is one of six lessons in "MIXED-PLATE BIOLOGY, HAWAIIAN STYLE", a collection of biological activities that values the cultures of modern Hawaii's multicultural population. The collection includes:

Hawaii is a land of immigrants. The Hawaiians are believed to have arrived around 1000 AD from the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific. Starting in the 18th century, Europeans and Americans arrived usually involved in missionary work or seafaring trades. Once agricultural plantations of sugar and pineapple were established in the 20th century, workers arrived from China, Japan, Puerto Rico, Portugal, and the Philippines.

Since the plantation days, immigration has been largely from Southeast Asian nations of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand; Korea; the South Pacific nations of Samoa and Tonga; the Philippines; as well as the US mainland. As ethnic diversity increases in our classrooms, let's draw from the various cultures to personalize the concepts of biology.

(About the title: a Mixed Plate is a unique lunch that evolved as new immigrant populations arrived in Hawaii and can include pork adobo from the Philippines, teriyaki beef from Japan, kim chee from Korea, bean soup from Portugal, chow mein from China, traditional Hawaiian foods such as lau lau and poi and of course two scoops of rice.)

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