What is Botany?


Botany is the scientific study of plants. "Plants," to most people, means a wide range of living organisms from the smallest bacteria to the largest living things - the giant sequoia trees. By this definition plants include: algae, fungi, lichens, mosses, ferns, conifers and flowering plants. Today scientists believe bacteria, algae and fungi are in their own distinct kingdoms, but most general botany courses, and most Botany Departments at colleges and universities, still teach about these groups.

Because the field is so broad, there are many kinds of plant biologists and many different opportunities available. Botanists interested in ecology study interactions of plants with other organisms and the environment. Other field botanists search to find new species or do experiments to discover how plants grow under different conditions. Some botanists study the structure of plants. They may work in the field, concentrating on the pattern of the whole plant. Others use microscopes to study the most detailed fine structure of individual cells. Many botanists do experiments to determine how plants convert simple chemical compounds into more complex chemicals. They may even study how genetic information in DNA controls plant development. Botanists study processes that occur on a time scale ranging from fractions of a second in individual cells to those that unfold over eons of evolutionary time.

The results of botanical research increase and improve our supply of medicines, foods, fibers, building materials, and other plant products. Conservationists use botanical knowledge to help manage parks, forests, range lands, and wilderness areas. Public health and environmental protection professionals depend on their understanding of plant science to help solve pollution problems.


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 PLANT SCIENCE BULLETIN  

» BOOKS NEEDING REVIEW
» ANNOUNCEMENTS

  BOTANY IN THE NEWS   Botany in the News RSS

» 400–Year Study Finds Northeast Forests
    Resilient, Changing
» Ancient Cycads Found to be Pre-Adapted
    to Grow in Groves
» Eavesdropping Plants Prepare to Be Attacked
» Most Flammable Boreal Forests in North America
    Become More So

  BOTANY BLOGS   

» Uncommon Ground
» The Phytophactor
» Active Visual Learning
» Moss Plants and More
» No seeds, no fruits, no flowers: no problem.
» A Wandering Botanist

  IDEAS WORTH SPREADING (TED)   

» The hidden beauty of pollination
» The roots of plant intelligence
» Why we're storing billions of seeds
» Nalini Nadkarni on conserving the canopy
» Why can't we grow new energy?
» World's oldest living things

 FEATURED BSA RESOURCES

» BSA members' PLANT VIDEOS online
  

» Economic Botany - How We Value Plants....
» Crime Scene Botanicals - Forensic Botany

  STUDENTS' CORNER

» Why should you join the Society as a student?

» NEW MEMBERS - Connecting with the BSA

Careers in Botany

» POSITIONS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
» Post a Position

» Some Careers Ideas
    • An Adventure - this is my job!
    • International Journey to a Botany Career
    • Botany as a career: Still having fun
» BOTANY - the students' perspective
    • Tanya, University of California
    • Patricia, University of Washington
    • Cheng-Chiang, Harvard University
    • Uromi, Yale University

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Planting Science Project
Careers in Botany BSA Image Collection www.PlantingScience.org Classroom Plant Talking Points McIntosh Apple Development Project