Plant Nature Study I by Various Plant Nature Study I by Various    

Lesson 31: Lady Bumblebee's Friends (Botany and Botanists)

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There were some of those July days so hot that nothing could have tempted Peter Rabbit to leave the dear Old Briar-patch until after jolly, round, bright Mr. Sun had gone to bed behind the Purple Hills. Peter had little interest in anything except trying to keep cool. On those days he didn't give flowers a single thought.

But there were other days when the Merry Little Breezes cooled the air, and clouds shut away the rays from Mr. Sun. On such days Peter was often abroad. One of these comfortable days he decided to run over to the Green Forest by way of the swamp where the Laughing Brook enters the Green Meadows.

"When I get over there I'll be comfortable anyway, even if the Merry Little Breezes do stop blowing and the clouds stop hiding the face of bright Mr. Sun," thought Peter.

So he hopped along across the Green Meadows. As he was making his way through the tall grass not far from the edge of the swamp, he came upon some bright, purple flowers which he had not seen before and which caused him to squeal aloud with pleasure. They grew in a group or cluster about a foot and a half above the ground at the top of a light green stalk, which, instead of being round, as are the stalks of most plants, was square. It was somewhat hairy, and growing out from it in pairs were thin, oval leaves, pointed and without stems. Each leaf had three ribs.

Only two or three flowers were open, though there were a number of buds, some of which would open within a day or two. The open flowers were about an inch or a little more across, and at first glance they reminded Peter of something, though just what it was he couldn't think for a few minutes. Then it came to him. They reminded him of the Evening Primrose. Had they been yellow instead of purple, he might at first glance have mistaken them for Primroses. They were on slender, leafy branches which sprang out in pairs, one from each side of the stalk at a point where a pair of leaves grew.

The petals, of which there were four, were rounded and quite broad, joined together for about half their length. There were eight long, purplish stamens, each having on its tip a bright yellow anther, which is, as you know, the name given to the little package of pollen. There was one pistil and this was slender, long and somewhat crooked.

"What a beauty!" exclaimed Peter.

"Of course," said Lady Bumblebee, coming up just in time to overhear him. "That is its name, Meadow Beauty. I'm told that it is often called Deergrass, though why anybody should call such a plant grass is more than I can understand. What are you doing over here, Peter?"

"I am on my way to the Green Forest," replied Peter. "Of course when I found these flowers I just had to stop to admire them. I don't suppose I'll find any new flowers over in the Green Forest, but at least it will be fairly comfortable over there."

"Have you seen the Bee Balm yet?" inquired Lady Bee.

Peter shook his head. "No," said he. "Where is it?" "It has just begun to bloom over in the Green Forest," replied Lady Bee. And then before Peter could ask just where, Lady Bee flew away.

"Bee Balm," said Peter to himself. "I wonder what that is like. I'll hurry right over there and see if I can find it."

So, with a last look at the beautiful Meadow Beauty, Peter started on and entered the swamp. He was hardly beyond the edge of it when he spied what at first he thought to be an old friend, the Common Milkweed. But when he noticed the leaves he knew that it was not. It was a Milkweed beyond a doubt, for there is no mistaking the members of this family, but it was not the Common Milkweed. The leaves were somewhat narrower and came to more of a point. Then, too, the leaves were not so hairy on the underside, and the plant itself was branched. The flowers were a somewhat deeper purple. It was the Swamp Milkweed, a close relative of the Common Milkweed, but coming into bloom a little later, and a lover of wet, swampy places.

Peter wasted little time there, for his thoughts were of that Bee Balm Lady Bumblebee had mentioned. He hurried on through the swamp into the Green Forest. The Green Forest is a big place, and Peter had no idea in which direction to go. "I may as well go one way as another," thought he. "I think I'll follow up the bank of the Laughing Brook."

He hopped along slowly. It was cooler in there than out on the Green Meadows, but still too warm to hurry. For some distance he found no flowers he had not already seen, and he had just about made up his mind to leave the Laughing Brook when around a little bend he came suddenly upon such a brilliant patch of color that it fairly took his breath away.

Growing in a shady spot near the bank was a clump of tall, rather stout plants, each bearing at the top a big, ragged-looking flower head of bright red. Only the flowers around the outer edge were open, and these were in the shape of slender tubes with very wide mouths, the upper half or lip being sharp-pointed and arched. The lower half or lip was wide-spreading and in three parts, the center one being longer than the others. There were two long stamens and a pistil, and these also were bright red. The flowers were one and a half to two inches long.

At first Peter had eyes only for those odd, brilliant flowers. When at last he looked at the stalks, he discovered that they were square instead of being round. Of course this interested him at once, for you know he already had found a plant with a square stalk that very morning, the Meadow Beauty. Not only were the stalks square, but they were hairy. The leaves were dark green, and were oval with rather long, sharp tips. They grew in pairs from opposite sides of the stalk, and the edges were cut into little saw-like teeth. The stems were hairy. Happening to sniff at these leaves, Peter discovered that they had a pleasant, spicy smell.

Years ago the Indians, so it is said, made tea from these leaves. And from them the early settlers learned to do the same thing. Perhaps this is why the plant is sometimes called Oswego Tea. Other names for it are Fragrant Balm, Indian's-plume and Mountain Mint. The last name probably comes from the fact that it is a member of the Mint family.

While Peter was still admiring these flowers Lady Bumblebee arrived. "I see you have found it, Peter," said she.

"Found what?" asked Peter.

"The Bee Balm, of course," replied Lady Bumblebee, running her long tongue into one of the flowers.

So that is the name by which Peter knows it, as do very many other people. Perhaps someday you may find it as Peter did beside the Laughing Brook. And if you do, I know you will be as delighted as he was.

    Plant Nature Study I by Various Plant Nature Study I by Various    

Lesson 31: Lady Bumblebee's Friends (Botany and Botanists)


Study the lesson for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the story.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Recite aloud the vocabulary words and their definitions.
  • Learn the concepts.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Study the review questions.


Peter spots the Meadow Beauty, a bright purple flower with a square stalk and oval, ribbed leaves. Each blossom had four petals, eight stamens tipped with pollen, and one pistil. Next, he sees the clusters of purplish flowers of the Swamp Milkweed. Finally, he sees the beautiful bright red Bee Balm or Oswego Tea. The American Indians and early settlers made tea from the spicy smelling leaves. The Bee Balm's flowers are long tubes and their nectar attracts bees and hummingbirds.


Biology: The study of all life or living matter.
Botany: The scientific study of plants, a branch of biology.
Botanist: A person engaged in botany, the scientific study of plants.
Laboratory: A room, building or institution equipped for scientific research, experimentation or analysis.
Fieldwork: The collection of raw data out in the real world rather than in controlled conditions such as in a laboratory.


Botany and Botanists:

  1. In the lessons, Peter Rabbit studies different types of plants. People who formally study plants are called botanists.
  2. The study of plants is a subdivision of biology called botany.
  3. Botanists discover new types of plants, experiment to find new uses of known plants, or study the effects of environmental factors on plants.
  4. Botanists typically attend college to earn bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and/or doctoral degrees in biology or botany.
  5. Botanists may work in laboratories and/or outside doing fieldwork.


Activity 1: Narrate the Story

  • After reading or listening to the story, narrate the story events aloud using your own words.

Activity 2: Can You Find It?

Find the following on the image of the Bee Balm:

  • Something that smells spicy
  • Something shaped like a tube
  • Something American Indians used to make tea
  • Something hummingbirds like

Activity 3: Take a Nature Walk, Visit a Flower Shop, or Research Online

  • Embark upon a nature walk.
  • Locate a specimen of a new plant that you have not studied before.
  • Locate the pistil, stamens, roots, stem, etc. of one of the flowers.
  • Make observations of the flower and its habitat and gather data.
  • Use the gathered information to create the field book entry.

Activity 4: Complete a Field Book Entry   

After your nature walk, complete page 36 in 'Science Field Book for Third Grade.'


Question 1

What does Peter Rabbit have in common with botanists?
1 / 4

Answer 1

Both Peter and botanists engage in the study of plants.
1 / 4

Question 2

Does a botanist typically study animals?
2 / 4

Answer 2

No, botanists typically study plants.
2 / 4

Question 3

Do botanists always work indoors in a lab?
3 / 4

Answer 3

No, botanists may also do field work outdoors.
3 / 4

Question 4

Do botanists typically require college degrees?
4 / 4

Answer 4

Yes, botanists typically attend college to earn degrees, such as bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees in biology or botany.
4 / 4

  1. What does Peter Rabbit have in common with botanists? Both Peter and botanists engage in the study of plants.
  2. Does a botanist typically study animals? No, botanists typically study plants.
  3. Do botanists always work indoors in a lab? No, botanists may also do field work outdoors.
  4. Do botanists typically require college degrees? Yes, botanists typically attend college to earn degrees, such as bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees in biology or botany.


  1. 'Botanist Picture by kennethr. {(CC0 1.0)}' Pixabay. n.p.
  2. Burgess, Thornton. Burgess Flower Book for Children. Ithaca, Boston, Massachusetts. Little, Brown, and Company, 1923.
  3. Comstock, Anna Botsford and Gordon, Eva L., Handbook of nature-study (Twenty-fourth edition). Ithaca, New York Comstock Publishing Company, Inc, 1911.