Last updated: March 31, 2019

What Does Botany Mean?

Botany is the branch of science dedicated to the study of plants. While most people think of trees, shrubs, and flowers when they think of plants, in botanical terms, a plant could be any living plant organism, from tiny bacteria to the world’s largest trees. Fungi, lichen, algae, mosses, and other organisms like them have been scientifically grouped into their own kingdom outside of the plant kingdom, but most generally botany still covers and studies these organisms, as well as the rest of the plant kingdom.


Maximum Yield Explains Botany

Botany can be considered a subset of biology that specifically focuses on plants. Thus, botanists (plant biologists) may study a wide range of topics within the plant world. On the whole, botanists study an estimated 400,000 species of living plant organisms.

Botany is perhaps the oldest branch of science in the world, as it got its start in prehistoric times as herbalism, when early people sought to identify, use, and cultivate edible plants for medicinal purposes. As far back as medieval times, herbalists grew physic gardens in monasteries and other places, focusing specifically on plants and herbs that were thought to have healing powers.

Today’s botanical gardens are direct descendants of these physic gardens, and are now used in botanical research at universities and other research institutions. Some of the most common research topics in botany today include plant structure, biochemistry, metabolism, chemical production, diseases, taxonomy, molecular genetics, and evolutionary relationships. Going into the future, we can expect to see a great deal more study of molecular genetics and the mechanisms and functions of gene expression in plants.

Botanists studying these phenomena are focused on finding ways to produce more bountiful crops, creating plants that are resistant to certain pests without the use of pesticides, and plants with higher nutritional values. Botanists may be employed privately or by government agencies and academic institutions to perform research on medicinal plants to develop new medications and treatments. These aren’t the only applications for botany, as the same concepts apply to horticulture, gardening, and landscaping.


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