Introduction to Botany


Botanists are individuals who conduct extensive study on plant biology - from the simple to the most complex plant organisms; studying all aspect of an individual plant or an entire ecology. Many botanists are involved in a broad range of activities including academic, both teaching and researching (Including field and laboratory studies). In a strict sense, botany is the pure science involved with the investigation of the basic nature of plants.

Various aspects of botany have direct importance to human advancement and welfare. Fields such as horticulture and forestry are closely interrelated to basic botanical studies. Pharmacology and agronomy, however, are not as closely related, but still rely on basic botanical knowledge.

The Beginning of Botany

Botany, as a science, was first conducted in the 4th century BC by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus. His treatises on the morphology, classification and reproduction of plants were extremely influential on the discipline until the 17th century. Modern botany was developed around the 16th century, in part by the invention of the microscope in 1590.

The Greeks believed that plants obtain their nourishment from the soil only, however, during the 17th century, Belgian Scientist Jan Baptista Van Helmont demonstrated that soil is not the main contributor of plant weight. English chemist Joseph Priestly demonstrated that growing plants "restored" oxygen lost in the atmosphere (18th century). Jan Ingenhousz, a Dutch physiologist extended this discovery by proving that light is required for plants to produce oxygen. These and other discoveries formed the basis for modern "plant physiology"; a branch of botany concerning basic plant functions.

Modern Botany

Botany is not necessarily dependent on the fossil record for information regarding classification and evolution. Unlike zoology, paleobotany, the study of plant fossil, is much less complete than that for animals. Paleobotany, however, has contributed greatly to the overall understanding of the interrelationships between the classes of seed plants.

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