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What is Botany?

Botany is that branch of biology that deals with the study of plants. The person who studies ‘Botany’ is known as a ‘Botanist’. It is one of the world’s oldest natural sciences. Initially, Botany included all the plant-like organisms like algae, lichens, ferns, fungi, and mosses alongside actual plants. Later on, it was observed that bacteria, algae, and fungi belong to a different kingdom.

History of Botany

The Greek scholar Theophrastus was one of the early Botanists of the world. He is also known as the “Father of Botany” due to his major writings on plants. One of his books called “Enquiry into Plants” classified the plants based on their geographical ranges, sizes, uses, and growth patterns. The other work called “On the Causes of Plants” explained the economics of growing plants.

The invention of the compound microscope by Robert Hooke in 1665 marked the advancement of scientific knowledge in the field of Botany. It helped in the study of the anatomy and physiology of plants. The discovery of chlorophyll helped in understanding the process of photosynthesis. Gregor Mendel studied the genetic inheritance in plants through his experiments on pea plants.

With the advent of biotechnology and genetic engineering, scientists can understand the plant structure in a better way and have devised better ways of improving crop yield and crop health.

Branches of Botany

It is divided into several branches:

  • Plant Pathology: It is the study of organisms and environmental conditions that are liable for causing diseases in plants, the mechanisms by which the disease occurs, and therefore the methods of controlling plant diseases.
  • Plant Ecology: Plant ecology studies the distribution of plants, how the environmental factors affect plants, and therefore the interaction between plants and other organisms.
  • Palaeobotany: It is a type of botany that deals with the recovery and identification of plant fossils, thereby, studying the evolutionary history of plants.
  • Archaeobotany: It is the branch of Botany in which scientists study how the plants were used by the people in the past. Understanding a plant also helps in understanding the medicinal and spiritual significance of a plant in the past.
  • Forensic Botany: Forensic botany is the use of plants and parts of plants like pollens, seeds, leaves, etc. to investigate criminal or non-criminal cases, legal disputes, or questions, to discover the cause of death or former location.

Importance of Botany

  1. It is the study of different kinds of plants, their uses, and their characteristics to influence the fields of science, medicine, and cosmetics.
  2. Botany is the key to the development of biofuels such as biomass and methane gas that are used as alternatives to fossil fuels.
  3. It is important in the area of economic productivity because it is involved in the study of crops and ideal growing techniques that help farmers increase crop yield.
  4. The study of plants is also important in environmental protection. The Botanists list the different types of plants present on earth and can sense when the plant populations start declining.