Date Palm ( phoenix dactylifera)

Paper Details

• 6 – 8 pages, double spaced, 12 point Arial or Times New Roman font.

•1” margins.

• Citations in APA style.

• Your paper must be an original work. Papers that you have written or are writing for another course are not allowed.

• You should use AT LEAST 8, and probably more, reliable references for your paper. In general, if it is only available on the web it is suspect. Only use such sources if this is the only source for the information (extremely unlikely), or if you are using the source to critique popular opinions or preconceptions. Use web references rarely, if at all.Wikipedia is not reliable. Corporate web sites are not reliable.

 

The goal of this assignment is for you to investigate, analyze and present the interactions between a plant or plant product and human civilizations. Your goal is NOT to be exhaustive – one could write a book about any of the plants below – but to identify an interesting and compelling thesis concerning your plant and civilizations, and then present this thesis in 6 – 8 double spaced pages.

In creating an interesting thesis, you first need to identify the interesting or controversial aspects of you plant and its interaction with humans. Aspects to consider in selecting your specific topic and creating your thesis:

Biology / Natural history:

How does your plant grow? Where did it originate? Does it interact with animals as food or with pollinators? Has it been domesticated? Where? By whom? Where does it grow now? Is it cultivated and / or has it been domesticated? If so, how are wild varieties different from cultivated varieties? How are they different? Why are they different?

Social / Cultural:

How is the plant used by humans? Is there any specific cultural or religious significance of the plant? Currently? Historically? Are there different uses for different cultures? Are there different uses within a culture or society? Why is your plant important to humans? Is your plant used in art? Is this significant?

Economic:

What are the economic factors that are important in its production, sale or use? Are these consistent across cultures? Through time? Is the plant important in international trade?

Historical:

How has the use of your plant changed through time? How has the production / cultivation of your plant changed through time? Has the importance of your plant (economically, culturally) changed through time? Why? How?

Human health:

How does your plant impact human health? Is it an important component of human diet? What are its nutritional aspects (if it is used for food)? Medicinal attributes? Psychoactive properties? Is it poisonous?

Policy / legal:

Is your plant legal to grow and consume? Where is it produced legally? Where is its use prohibited? Why is it prohibited? Are there policies in place to increase its production? Where? Why?

Not all plants have interesting stories in ALL categories. However, each of the plant species in the list below is interesting in several of the categories above. Your research paper should describe and analyze your plant from at least 2 (probably no more than 4) different perspectives and link these perspectives into a cohesive, interesting narrative. Your paper must have an identifiable thesis. Your thesis will take a stand on a single point, and will let the reader know that this is what you paper is about.

For example,

“Chili peppers (Capsicum annuum) were domesticated at least 7,000 years ago in central America. The fruits of this plant contain capsaicin, chemicals that activate heat-sensitive nerve cells and produce the sensation of heat and pain. Soon after Europeans came into contact with the cultures that used this plant as food, chilies were transported back to Europe and from there were incorporated into the cuisines of many different cultures across the globe. The rapid dispersal and current world-wide distribution of this species is the result of an innately human desire for novel and even painful sensory experiences

Good. Single point, can be argued one way or another, potentially interesting given the data available.

“Chili peppers (Capsicum annuum) were domesticated at least 7,000 years ago in central America. The fruits of this plant contain capsaicin, chemicals that activate heat-sensitive nerve cells and produce the sensation of heat and pain. Soon after Europeans came into contact with the cultures that used this plant as food, chilies were transported back to Europe and from there were incorporated into the cuisines of a many different cultures across the globe.

Some cultures have adopted this plant as a vegetable and have selected for varieties that do not produce capsaicin. Other cultures use this plant as a spice, and have selected for varieties with high capsaicin content.”

Poor. This doesn’t say why some use the chili in one way and others a different way. No analysis or synthesis. “On the one hand…. On the other hand…” Why did some cultures value chilies for pungency, and others not? What is this paper going to say that we don’t already know?

“Chili peppers (Capsicum annuum) were domesticated at least 7,000 years ago in central America. The fruits of this plant contain capsaicin, chemicals that activate heat-sensitive nerve cells and produce the sensation of heat and pain. Soon after Europeans came into contact with the cultures that used this plant as food, chilies were transported back to Europe and from there were incorporated into the cuisines of a many different cultures across the globe. Following its introduction to Europe, chilies were selected for low capsaicin production and the chili pepper was adopted as a vegetable in northern European cuisine. In most other parts of the world, the chili retained its heat and was adopted as a spice. The chili was adopted as a spice by cultures that already used pungent spices as a part of their cuisine, but was transformed into a non-pungent vegetable by cultures without such traditions.”

Marginal. This is weak because most of us already know and accept the thesis statement as true. A better approach would be to explore why some cultures value pungency and others do not, and then take a stand on this. Is it because of cultural norms? Hot climates? Human health issues? The role of food and meals in each society?

 

Please note that before you create your thesis, you will need to do quite a bit of research on your plant. Before selecting your plant from the list below it is a good idea to explore what is known about the plant and make sure that it is interesting to you. We will be working with the Morgan Library in recitation September 18th and 19th and you will learn about the research databases that we have at CSU. We will give you a short assignment that revolves around your plant – we will ask you to identify the most interesting or controversial attributes of your plant from the different aspects discussed above. You will then provide us the key references you have identified for that topic and provide a 1 or 2 sentence summary of each. At the end of this exercise you should have generated 3 – 4 essential sources for each of the main categories above and should then have all the information you need to generate an interesting and compelling thesis.

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