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Botany

BOTANY

BOTANY. The history of botany in America has several themes: the identification and study of new species discovered in the New World; the transformation of the field away from classification based on morphology, or shape, and toward interest in physiology and, later, genetics; the concomitant specialization and professionalization of botany, a subject that was originally relatively open to amateur practitioners, including women; and the development of American botanical research to rival the initially dominant European centers in England, France, and Germany. The European Renaissance had seen a revival of interest in botany and in ancient botanical works that was aided by the invention of the printing press in 1453, which allowed for a uniformity of plant depictions that hand-drawn manuscripts could not ensure.

Discoveries in the New World

The exploration of the New World, beginning with Columbus's voyage of 1492, was marked by the discovery of new flora and fauna, enthusiastically documented and described by travelers. It was not uncommon for those who wrote about the Americas to describe the plants and animals they had seen in terms of familiar European species, and, indeed, sometimes to mistakenly identify American species as being the same as European species. However, since plants do not move—unlike animals that might offer colonial settlers and travelers only a glimpse before disappearing—many American plants were quickly identified to be distinct from similar species in the Old World. Although Native Americans had developed their own classifications of North American flora, and although Native Americans were often a source of knowledge for colonists learning about the uses of new plants, Europeans tended to impose their own classifications onto the plants of the New World.

At the time, the discovery of new species posed a theological problem for European Christians, as the description of Noah's Ark insisted that Noah had gathered every kind of plant, while the New World contained many plants not part of the European and Asian ecosystems. Questions quickly arose as to whether there had once been a land bridge between the Americas and Eurasia and, even prior to Darwin, whether American plant species were modified variations on European species.

Moreover, some plants from the Americas became quite profitable crops for Europeans, most notably tobacco and chocolate, and many Europeans came over to explore and study the new plants. The first notable publication on the flora of the Americas was by Nicolás Monardes, who never traveled to the New World but wrote on its plants in his 1574 Historia Medicinal, which was translated into English by John Frampton as Joyfull Newes out of the Newe Founde Worlde (1577). The work was primarily concerned with the medicinal benefits of the plants and herbs in the Americas, and, indeed, many of the practitioners of botany in the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and even into the nineteenth centuries were also trained in medicine and were interested in the possible new cures available in undocumented American plants.

However, amateurs also made important contributions to the study of American botanicals, examining the plants in local areas, presenting their findings at botanical societies, swapping samples with other botanists and sending plants back to Europe, and cultivating herbaria and arboreta. From colonial times until the mid-nineteenth century, the work of amateurs in finding, studying, and documenting new species was important to the study of botany as a whole. A primary example is Jane Colden (1724–1766), the daughter of the botanist Cadwallader Colden. Tutored only by her father, Jane Colden studied and drew the plants of New York, classifying hundreds of plants, including the gardenia, which she discovered.

Jane Colden was especially renowned for understanding and using the Linnaean classification scheme. Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), a Swedish doctor and botanist, developed his hierarchy throughout his life, his most notable publications including the Systema Naturae (1735), GeneraPlantarum (1737), and Species Plantarum (1753). The Linnaean system, which has since been greatly revised, divided animals and plants into kingdoms, classes, orders, genera, and species, all written in Latin. Each species was given a two-part (binomial) name of genus and species.

Classification

Linnaeus's classification system greatly influenced eighteenth-century botany in America. Some of his students came over to categorize the species of the New World, most significantly Pehr Kalm, who traveled through the Great Lakes, the Mid-Atlantic colonies, and Canada, bringing back samples. Meanwhile, colonial settlers like John Bartram (1699–1777), Cadwallader Colden (1688–1776), Humphry Marshall (1722–1801), and others worked to incorporate the local flora into the work of Linnaeus, which provided a new sense of order for those working on studying the plants and animals of the overwhelmingly diverse and novel New World.

But although the Linnaean system was helpful, it could not survive the strain of the thousands of new discoveries in the Americas and Asia. Plant classifications based on reproduction resulted in categories that contained obviously widely diverging plants. In particular, Linnaeus was challenged by French botanists who emphasized grouping plants by shape (morphology). Antoine Laurent de Jussieu's (1748–1836) 1789 Genera Plantarum prompted the reorganizing of classification by appearance and added levels to the taxonomy.

The Jussieu modifications quickly, but not uncontroversially, became added to botanical literature, although the Linnaean system continued to be used in many prominent American publications through the early nineteenth century. Meanwhile, French botanists made other contributions to the study of North American plants. André Michaux (1746–1802) and his son, François André (1770–1855), traveled through much of eastern North America, from Canada to the Bahamas, observing and collecting. The end result of their massive researches was the 1803 Flora Boreali-Americana, the first large-scale compilation of North American plants. The work of the Michaux drew, not uncritically, on the reforms of Jussieu.

Nineteenth-Century American Botanists

The Michaux volumes encouraged revisions, the first coming in 1814 with the Flora Americae Septentrionalis of Frederick Pursh (1774–1820), which incorporated findings from the Lewis and Clark Expedition and thus contained information about western America. Pursh's contemporary, Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859), was born and died in England, but his interest, education, and work in botany were conducted primarily in America, where he explored the south and west, collecting and publishing his findings. Although he is known for his extensive discoveries, Nuttall also wrote the 1818 Genera of the North American Plants and 1827 Introduction to Systematic and Physiological Botany. His work is symbolic of a turn from European-dominated study of North American plants toward American specialists in native species. Although Americans had always played important roles in the discovery, cataloging, and study of local plants, the early and mid-nineteenth century saw the burgeoning of work by American botanists, both amateur and professional. Meanwhile, the American government sponsored expeditions to find and collect plant species in the less studied areas of the south and west of America.

Among the American botanists of the early nineteenth century, the most famous are Jacob Bigelow (1786–1879), Amos Eaton (1776–1842), John Torrey (1796–1873), and Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859). Bigelow, who was trained as a doctor, was primarily interested in the medicinal uses of plants, but he also surveyed the flora of Boston for his Florula Bostoniensis (1814). Additionally, he did work in physiology, which was already a topic of considerable interest in the first decades of the century and would come to dominate morphology in botanical concerns by the end of the nineteenth century.

Amos Eaton gained his reputation primarily through his Manual of Botany (first published in 1817, but revised and enlarged through many editions), which became the basic botanical teaching text of the first half of the nineteenth century. Eaton, who also worked in geology and chemistry, encouraged the participation of women in science, although indeed women were already quite well represented in botany, which he noted. In part this botanical activity by women was due to the fact that contemporary botany required little laboratory equipment: discoveries could be made by anyone who was diligent and well read in botany, and so graduate degrees or access to laboratories—both largely denied at the time to women—were unnecessary to botanical work. However, although Eaton emphasized field work, the most accessible kind of botanical study, he was also part of a trend toward including laboratory experiments.

Eaton's teaching and text were very influential, perhaps most importantly in botany upon John Torrey, whom Eaton met while serving a prison sentence for forgery—a charge he denied. Torrey was the son of a man who worked for the State Prison of New York, and Eaton gave the young Torrey lessons in a variety of scientific subjects, including botany. While Torrey went on to have a career that included work in medicine, geology, mineralogy, and chemistry, he is primarily remembered for his botanical work, cataloging New York flora, collaborating with Asa Gray, creating a renowned herbarium, promoting government-financed expeditions, utilizing—albeit inconsistently—the classification work of John Lindley, and serving as the first president of the Torrey Botanical Society, a group of prominent amateur and professional botanists in New York. The Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Society, which began publication in 1870, is the oldest American botanical journal.

Although Bigelow, Eaton, Torrey, Nuttall, and others did much to encourage and expand knowledge of native plants, it is Asa Gray (1810–1888) who takes center stage in the history of American botany in the nineteenth century. Gray published A Flora of North America (1838–1843) with Torrey, which drew on the Lindley classification system, which was a development from Jussieu's "natural system." Gray's textbooks replaced those of Eaton, and the botanical research center he set up at Harvard cultivated many of the next generation of botanists and encouraged work in anatomy, cellular structure, and physiology, realms that were dominated by German botanists. Interested in East Asian flora as well as that of North America, Gray quickly supported Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory as expounded in the 1859 Origin of Species because he had noticed regional variation himself. This drew him into conflict with another Harvard professor, the zoologist Louis Agassiz, who was a prominent anti-Darwinian. However, evolution soon became a guiding principle in botanical study.

Theoretical Research

The twentieth century saw the rise of American research devoted to the theoretical aspects of botany, areas in which America had typically lagged behind Europe, as American botanists became more involved in experiments, physiology, anatomy, molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics, and less involved in the discovery of new species. While Darwin could not provide an explanation for the origins of variation and the inheritance of characteristics, Gregor Mendel (1822–1884), a Moravian monk, offered hereditary principles based on experiments with pea plants in his Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden (Experiments in plant hybridization; 1865, 1869). Although Mendel's research went unacknowledged until 1900, when rediscovered it was profoundly influential in turning the research edge of botany, which was already moving from morphology to physiology, toward genetics as well. In addition, during the first half of the twentieth century, ecological research, which tied together the plants and animals of a habitat, began to thrive, as evidenced by the work of Henry Chandler Cowles (1869–1939) and others. Mathematics was put to use in the study of plant and animal populations, and in 1942 Raymond Lindeman (1915–1942) demonstrated the "trophic-dynamic aspect" of ecology to show how energy moves from individual to individual through a local environment.

Since the 1960s, plant physiology has looked more to understanding the relationship between plants and their surrounding environment: studying plant reactions to environmental change, both with a look to the evolutionary mechanisms involved and concerning the ongoing degradation of the global environment.

Moreover, the introduction of genetic research has prompted yet another change in taxonomy, with the rise of phylogenetics, in which variation is traced to the genetic level, allowing botanists to reorganize classification by evolutionary relatedness, replacing previous categories. Relatedly, work on population genetics, genetic engineering, and genomics (the study of all of the genes in a DNA sequence) has blossomed since the 1960s, a no-table recent achievement being the completion of the Arabadopsis thaliana genome—the first plant genome completely sequenced—in 2000. Although some of the work was completed by American researchers and partly funded by the American government, the project represents the prominent international collaborations that are shaping botany today, with aid also provided by the European Union and the Japanese government and research carried out in America, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Japan.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Evans, Howard Ensign. Pioneer Naturalists: The Discovery and Naming of North American Plants and Animals. New York: Henry Holt, 1993.

Greene, Edward Lee. Landmarks of Botanical History. Edited by Frank N. Egerton. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1983.

Humphrey, Harry Baker. Makers of North American Botany. New York: Ronald Press, 1961.

Keeney, Elizabeth B. The Botanizers: Amateur Scientists in Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

Mauseth, James D. Botany: An Introduction to Plant Biology. 2d ed. Boston: Jones and Bartlett, 1998.

Morton, A. G. History of Botanical Science: An Account of the Development of Botany from Ancient Times to the Present Day. New York: Academic Press, 1981.

Reveal, James L. Gentle Conquest: The Botanical Discovery of North America with Illustrations from the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Starwood, 1992.

Stuckey, Ronald L., ed. Development of Botany in Selected Regions of North America before 1900. New York: Arno Press, 1978.

Caroline R.Sherman

See alsoBotanical Gardens .

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Botany

BOTANY

BOTANY. From antiquity into the late eighteenth century, the medical utility of plants provided the primary motive for studying them. However, from the late fifteenth century on, other reasons for the investigation of plants became increasingly important and gave botany a disciplinary and professional identity distinct from medicine. These included: explicating classical texts; portraying plants accurately in works of art; collecting rarities for natural history cabinets, gardens, and museums; exploiting natural resources; glorifying the wonders of creation; and satisfying the curiosity of natural philosophers. The primary thrust of botany in early modern Europe was plant identification, description, and classification, an effort that culminated in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when systematics assimilated morphology, reproduction, anatomy, and geography.

LATE FIFTEENTH CENTURY TO MID-SIXTEENTH CENTURY

While editing the ancient authorities on medicinal plantsPliny's Natural History and Dioscorides' De Materia medica (On the materials of medicine)in the late fifteenth century, Italian humanists looked at living plants to resolve textual problems. In contrast to medieval doctors' dependence on illiterate herb-gatherers, medical humanists in the early sixteenth century strove to emulate Dioscorides' and Galen's firsthand experience with medicinal plants.

The lack of a shared vocabulary for plant description and nomenclature was circumvented by the addition of accurate, detailed, naturalistic woodcut illustrations to printed herbalsa key innovation introduced by Otto Brunfels's (14881534) Herbarum Vivae Eicones (Living images of plants, 1530) and Leonhard Fuchs's (15011534) Historia Stirpium (Notable commentaries on the history of plants, 1542), and imitated by virtually every herbal thereafter. The failure of Leonardo da Vinci's (14521519) superb drawings and observations of plant formsunfinished at his death in 1519to influence early modern botany underscores the scientific consequences of coupling the technology of printing to skill in depicting plants.

Beginning in the 1530s, medical schools at Padua, Pisa, Basel, and Montpellier established chairs of botany, required lectures, demonstrations, and field trips, and built botanical gardens. Students of Luca Ghini (15001556), professor of botany at Bologna and Pisa, spread his technique of preserving pressed, dried specimens throughout Europe.

MID-SIXTEENTH CENTURY TO EARLY SEVENTEENTH CENTURY

The humanist physicians' desire to prescribe the precise plants named by classical authorities spurred Pietro Andrea Mattioli (15011578), a Habsburg court physician, to prepare a voluminous illustrated commentary on Dioscorides (first edition, 1544), the best-selling herbal of the period. Its revisions and enlargements helped Renaissance botanists realize that they knew far more plants than their ancient counterparts.

The immense "universal" herbals of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centurypublished or projected by major botanists from most European countries, including William Turner (c. 15081568), Conrad Gessner (15161565), Ulisse Aldrovandi (15221605), Jacques Dalechamps (D'Aléchamps, Dalechampius, 15131588), Charles de L'Escluse (Clusius, 15261609), Matthias de L'Obel (Lobelius, 15381616), Rembert Dodoens (Dodonaeus, 15171585), Jean Bauhin (15411612), Caspar Bauhin (15601624), and John Gerard (15641637)represented efforts to describe both long-familiar plants and the flood of new species. Plants entered European gardens and herbaria through the voyages of discovery and conquest and by exploration of local habitats. Informal networks of professional and amateur enthusiasts surmounted religious and political divisions and fostered a rapid international exchange of specimens, books, pictures, and observations.

To organize their entries, most herbals used a pragmatic mixture of systems, grouping some plants by their uses, others by similarities of form or habitats. Some herbals, emblem books, and books on natural magicreflecting astrology, Paracelsan chemistry, and the search for symbolic significance in naturestressed plants' hidden, inner properties, manifested by distinctive external "signatures." Appealing to Aristotle and Theophrastus's philosophical emphasis on growth and reproduction as the essential characteristics of the vegetative soul, Andrea Cesalpino (Caesalpinus, 15241603) stressed resemblances of seeds and fruits in grouping plants in his influential De Plantis Libri XVI (On plants, 1583).

EARLY SEVENTEENTH CENTURY TO LATE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

Caspar Bauhin (15601624), professor of botany and anatomy at Basel, took the first critical step toward a single botanical lexicon of plant names: his Pinax Theatri Botanici (Pinax, i.e., Index, for the botanical realm, 1623) summarized the synonyms and literature for some six thousand plantsten times the number in Dioscoridesand assigned them brief descriptive Latin names that emphasized their affinities. (Pinax remains an indispensable guide to identifying plants in earlier works.) An equally important step came from Joachim Jung's (15871657) astute analysis of plant parts, which reached John Ray (16271705)English cleric, naturalist, natural philosopher, and fellow of the Royal Societyby 1660 in manuscript. Between 1660 and 1704, Ray linked taxonomy, nomenclature, morphology, and bibliography in a series of strictly botanical books that brought together first-hand accounts of many previously undescribed plants, new technical terminology (such as petal, calyx, cotyledon), close observations of growth and form, and deep reflection on method.

Ray spelled out the combinations of essential morphological features that defined natural classes of plants. While acknowledging natural groupings at least at the genus/species level (categories that went back to Aristotle), the French botanist, J. P. de Tournefort (16561708), countered with a convenient and widely adopted artificial system of classification based primarily on the disposition of flower parts.

The chemical composition of plants and the form and function of plant parts, previously regarded as unimportant, came under the scrutiny of botanists trained in iatrochemistrynotably Guy de la Brosse (15861641), the founder of the Paris Jardin des Plantes in 1640and in microscopy. Robert Hooke (16351703) and Nehemiah Grew (16411712) in England and Marcello Malphighi (16281694) in Italy reported to the Royal Society in the late seventeenth century on their experimental investigations of plant cells and tissue structures. Stephen Hales (16771761) in the 1720s and Joseph Priestley (17331804) and Jan Ingen-Housz (17301799) half a century later devised chemical and physical experiments to measure plant nutrition and metabolism.

The demonstration of sexual reproduction in flowering plantsin an obscure 1694 publication, De Sexu Plantarum Epistola (On the sex of plants), by Rudolf Jacob Camerer (Camerarius), professor of medicine at Tübingenboth resolved a longstanding question and provided the brilliant Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (17071778) with the basis of a taxonomic system that overrode all earlier proposals.

Believing that God had created species and genera, Linnaeus embedded their essential characters in his binomial nomenclaturehenceforth giving the terms "genus" and "species" distinctive scientific meanings. Although Linnaeus clearly recognized larger natural groupings (plant families were methodically elucidated by the French botanists Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu [17481836] and Michel Adanson [17271806] in the late eighteenth century), his Species Plantarum (Species of plants, 1753) constructed a deliberately artificial system of classification, easily understood by anyoneeven "ladies"who could count the sexual parts of flowers. By imposing a common language and rational organization on the plant kingdom, Linnaeus made botany both a symbol of divine order and the epitome of Enlightenment science.

See also Aldrovandi, Ulisse ; Biology ; Boerhaave, Herman ; Enlightenment ; Gardens and Parks ; Gessner, Conrad ; Hooke, Robert ; Leonardo da Vinci ; Linnaeus, Carl ; Malpighi, Marcello ; Medicine ; Museums ; Natural History ; Natural Philosophy ; Nature ; Paracelsus ; Priestley, Joseph ; Ray, John ; Scientific Illustration ; Scientific Method.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Bauhinus, Casparus. Pinax Theatri Botanici. Basel, 1623.

Brunfelsius, Otho. Herbarum Vivae Eicones. Strasbourg, 1530.

Camerarius, Rudolphus Jacobus. De Sexu Plantarum Epistola. Tübingen, 1694.

Caesalpinus, Andreas. De Plantis Libri XVI. Florence, 1583.

Linnaeus, Carl. Species Plantarum. London, 19571959. A facsimile of the first edition, 1753.

Meyer, Frederick G., Emily Emmart Trueblood, and John L. Heller. The Great Herbal of Leonhart Fuchs: Vol. 1, Commentary; Vol. 2, De Historia Stirpium Commentarii Insignes, 1542: Facsimile. Stanford, 1999.

Secondary Sources

Arber, Agnes. Herbals, Their Origin and Evolution: A Chapter in the History of Botany, 14701670. 3rd ed. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1986. Facsimile reprint of second edition (1938), with an introduction and annotations by William T. Stearn.

Findlen, Paula. Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy. Berkeley, 1994.

Koerner, Lisbet. Linnaeus: Nature and Nation. Cambridge, Mass., 1999.

Morton, A. G. History of Botanical Science: An Account of the Development of Botany from Ancient Times to the Present Day. London and New York, 1981.

Reeds, Karen Meier. Botany in Medieval and Renaissance Universities. New York, 1991.

Karen Reeds

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Botany

54. Botany

See also 44. BIOLOGY ; 167. FLOWERS ; 188. GRASSES ; 241. LEAVES ; 319. PLANTS ; 401. TREES .

agrostology
the branch of systematic botany that studies grasses. Also called graminology. agrostologist , n. agrostologic , agrostological , adj.
algology
the branch of botany that studies seaweeds and algae. Also called phycology . algologist , n. algological , adj.
ampelography
the branch of botany that studies the cultivation of grapes. ampelographer , n.
anamorphosis
an abnormal change in the form of a plant that falsely gives it the appearance of a different species. anamorphic , adj.
anisotropy
the state or condition of certain flowers or plants of having different dimensions along different axes. See also 316. PHYSICS . anisotropic , adj.
batology
the branch of botany that studies brambles. batologist , n.
bisymmetry
in botany, the condition of having two planes of symmetry at right angles to one another. bisymmetric , bisymmetrical , adj.
botany
a major division of biology that studies all plant life. Also called phytology. botanist, n. botanical, adj.
bryology
the branch of botany that studies mosses and liverworts. bryologist, n.
caprification
the pollination process of figs, in which fig wasps, attracted by the caprifigs, or inedible fig-fruit, pollinate the figs. caprificator, n.
caricologist
a person who specializes in the study of sedges.
carpology
the branch of botany that studies the structure of fruits and seeds. carpologist, n. carpological, adj.
chromatism
abnormal coloration in parts of a plant that are usually green. See also 92. COLOR .
cryptogamist
one proficient in cryptogamic botany, i.e., the study of plants, as ferns and mosses, that have no true flowers or seeds.
dendrology
the branch of botany that studies trees. dendrologist, n. dendrologic, dendrological, adj.
epiphytology
the study of the character, ecology, and causes of plant diseases, as blight, which destroy a large number of susceptible plants in a large area simultaneously. epiphytologist, n.
ethnobotany
a specialty in botany that studies the lore and uses of plants as illustrative of the customs of a (usually primitive) society. ethnobotanist, n. ethnobotanic, ethnobotanical, adj.
filicology
the study of ferns. Cf. pteridology. filicologist. n.
fungology
the scientific study of fungi. fungologist, n. fungological, adj.
graminology
agrostology. graminologist, n. graminologic, graminological, adj.
herbalist
Obsolete, a descriptive botanist. See also 319. PLANTS .
herbarian, herbarist
Obsolete, a herbalist.
herbarism
Obsolete, botany.
herbarium
a collection of dried plants, assembled and arranged for botanical study.
lichenology
the study of lichens. lichenologist, n. lichenologic, lichenological, adj.
Linneanism
a system of botanical nomenclature following the binomial procedures established by Swedish botanist Carl von Linné. Linnaean, Linnean, adj.
muscology
the study of mosses. muscologist, n.
mycology
1. the branch of botany that studies fungi.
2. a catalogue of the fungi found in a specific area. mycologist, n. mycologie, mycological, adj.
orchidology
the branch of botany or horticulture that studies orchids. orchidologist , n.
phycography
a scientific description of seaweed. phycographic , adj.
phycology
algology. phycologist , n.
phylum
any of the basic divisions of the plant or animal kingdom. Cf. phylon .
phytogenesis
the science and history of the development of plants. Also phytogeny. phytogenetic , phytogenetical , adj.
phytogeography
the study of plants according to their geographical distribution. phytogeographer , n. phytogeographic, phytogeographical , adj.
phytography
the branch of botany that studies plant measurement and plant taxonomy. phytographer, phytographist , n. phytographic, phytographical , adj.
phytology
botany.
phytosociology
the branch of ecology that studies the interrelations of plants and plant communities. phytosociologist , n. phytosociologic, phytosociological . adj.
pomology
1. the branch of botany that studies the cultivation of fruit.
2. the science of growing, storing, and processing fruit. pomologist , n.
pteridography
the systematic description of ferns.
pteridology
the branch of botany that studies ferns. Cf. filicology . pteridologist , n.
Schwendenerism
the theory that lichens are parasitic fungi growing upon algae, first advanced by the German botanist S. Schwendener.
sphagnology
the study of the sphagnum mosses. sphagnologist , n.
stirpiculture
selective breeding to develop strains with particular characteristics. stirpicultural , adj.
symphyogenesis
production by union of elements that were formerly separate. symphyogenetic , adj.
tautonym
a botanical or zoological name in which two terms are combined, the generic name and the specific, with both being the same. (a practice no longer approved by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.)
uredinology
a branch of mycology that studies rusts. uredinologist , n.

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Botany

Botany

Botany is a branch of biology that deals with plant life. It is the study of the structure and the vital processes of plants, including photosynthesis, respiration, and plant nutrition. Among the plants studied are flowering plants, trees, shrubs, and vines. Specialized areas within the field of botany include the study of mosses, algae, lichens, ferns, and fungi.

Divisions of botanical study

Biochemists study the effects of soil, temperature, and light on plants. Plant morphologists study the evolution and development of leaves, roots, and stems, with a special focus on the tissues at various points on stems (called buds) where the cells have the ability to divide. Plant pathologists investigate the causes of plant disease and the effect that pathogens, such as bacteria and fungi, have on forest trees, vegetable crops, grain, and ornamental plants. Economic botanists study the impact of plants as they relate to human needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Plant geneticists study the arrangement and behavior of genes (the physical units of heredity) in plants in order to develop crops that are resistant to diseases and pests. Fossil plants are studied by paleobotanists (pronounced pale-ee-oh-BOT-uh-nists) to determine the earliest appearances of various groups of plants and the conditions under which they existed.

Words to Know

Binomial nomenclature: System of naming plants and animals in which each species is given a two-part name, the first being the genus and the second being the species.

Fossil: Plant or animal remains or impressions from past geologic ages that are preserved in rock.

Gene: A section of a DNA molecule that carries instructions for the formation, functioning, and transmission of specific traits from one generation to another.

Genus: A category of classification made up of species sharing similar characteristics.

Mendelian laws of inheritance: Laws of heredity set forth by Gregor Mendel based on his experiments in breeding pea plants.

Pathogen: A disease-causing organism.

Photosynthesis: Process by which plants capture sunlight and use it to manufacture their own food.

Potato blight: A disease of potatoes caused by a fungus.

Primary producer: Organisms that manufacture their own food from nonliving substances, usually by photosynthesis.

Transpiration: The loss of water from the surfaces of leaves and stems of plants.

Interdependence

Plants and animals depend on one another for their survival. Plants are primary producers that, through photosynthesis, provide nutrients that animals use to carry out vital body processes. Animals, in turn, contribute to plant distribution, plant pollination, and every other aspect of plant growth and development. Together with zoology (the study of animals), botany is an important aspect of the study of ecology (the interrelationship of living things and their environments).

History of botany

The field of botany began to take form with the work of Greek philosopher Aristotle (384322 b.c.), the first person to classify plants.

He divided them into categories according to size and appearance. Many years later, Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (17071778) contributed greatly to the study of botany by devising a comprehensive classification system for plants that is still used today. In 1753, Linnaeus published his Species Plantarum, in which he classified every known species of plant according to its structure and its similarity to other species. He also gave each plant a two-part name (called binomial nomenclature), consisting of the genus (the biological classification between family and species) and a second descriptive word.

The first scientific experiment in plant nutrition was conducted by Belgian physician Jan Baptista van Helmont (15771644). In growing a tree using only water as nourishment, van Helmont proved that the soil in which the tree was planted was not the only source of plant nutrients. English physiologist Stephen Hales (16771761) studied plant transpiration (loss of water from the surfaces of plant leaves and stems) and is credited with establishing plant physiology as a science.

During the nineteenth century, advances were made in the study of plant diseases, spurred by the potato blight in Ireland in the 1840s. Caused by a fungus that destroyed the entire potato crop, the potato blight resulted in over one million deaths from starvation and led to a mass migration of Irish to America.

The modern science of plant genetics developed from the work of Gregor Mendel (18221884), an Austrian botanist and monk. His breeding experiments with pea plants provided information on the nature of genes and their role in the inheritance of characteristics between generations. He formulated the Mendelian laws of inheritance, which were applied after 1900 to plant breeding.

Research in botany includes developing new and hardier species of crops, controlling plant diseases, discovering new medicines from plants, and studying the effects of human intervention (such as pollution and logging) on plant life. Exploring ways of maintaining an ecological balance that continues to sustain both plant and animal life is an important subject of study as well.

[See also Plant ]

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Botany

Botany

Soil, plant fragments, and pollen, maybe in trace amounts, are often left behind at the scene of a crime. Most people entering a house will bring in some soil or mud from outside. Even if they take off their shoes, their clothing may contain tiny smears of mud where they have been splashed or come into contact with a surface. Tools like shovels might also contain significant traces of mud. An expert in botany, the science of plants, can often help unravel the identity and significance of such trace evidence . Soil and mud, in particular, are often present in footprints or tire tracks and can help link a suspect to the scene of a crime. The pattern of mud on clothing can also be significant.

Soil is a mixture of mineral, plant, and animal matter that is often characteristic of a particular area and may reveal something about a suspect's movements. Often soil also contains some man-made products such as glass or paint. The forensic scientist is interested in the patterning of soil and mud staining and how it might relate to the circumstances of a crime. For instance, if an assault takes place out-of-doors, then the mud staining of a suspect's clothes could naturally be revealing.

The visual and chemical analysis of a soil trace can often link it to a particular geographical region. This, in turn, can help to track the movements of a suspect if he or she has traveled to the area where the crime was committed. If a body has been moved for burial, then soil or plant material in a vehicle could be important.

The forensic botanist, first with the naked eye, looks at any soil or mud and assesses its color and texture. Microscopic examination reveals more about the content of the soil and the range of particle sizes it contains. Large samples might be sieved to separate them into different portions, depending upon particle sizes. Then these can be further examined to give more information.

Chemical analysis using advanced techniques like atomic absorption spectroscopy will give the mineral composition of a soil sample, such as chalk or clay, which is often characteristic of the area it came from. The acidity of the soil is also measured, as this varies greatly with place of origin. Thermal analysis of the soil, heating it in an oven till it decomposes, is also often characteristic of its origin. There may be dramatic color change or the soil may absorb heat in a characteristic way.

Suspects and victims also, often unknowingly, carry various items of plant debris on their bodies and clothes such as flower petals, seeds, and pollen. These are often native to a specific area. For instance, if pine needles are found around a victim who seems to have perished in an area where there are no evergreens, it may tell the investigators something important and specific about the suspect and his or her movements. The botanist can investigate what species carries these particular needles and so help link the perpetrator to a specific source.

Pollen grains are tiny and are not usually noticed by those involved in a crime. Pollen is often found almost everywherein hair, on surfaces, and on paper. If pollen is found on the envelope of a threatening letter or a ransom note, for instance, it may provide a valuable link to the suspect. There are pollen databases which can show the investigators where a particular pollen sample may have come from.

When a body is left out in the open or in a shallow grave, plant debris, including leaves and needles, may cover the remains. Analysis of this growth can often help establish the time and season of death and burial.

In one British case from 1887, a 15-year-old boy was found drowned in a ditch. Footprints led down the bank of the ditch. Sand grains were found on the suspect's trousers and matched to the ditch. Mud on the clothing of the suspect's daughter, who turned out to be an accomplice, was examined microscopically. Hairs from the seeds of the groundsel plant were found. This mud matched samples taken from the part of the ditch where the body was found, but not mud found from other areas. If botany helped solve a case so long ago, it can be even more powerful today with modern analytical techniques.

see also Geology; Geographic profiling; Minerals; Pollen and pollen rain; Soils; Spores.

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botany

botany, science devoted to the study of plants. Botany, microbiology, and zoology together compose the science of biology. Humanity's earliest concern with plants was with their practical uses, i.e., for fuel, clothing, shelter, and, particularly, food and drugs. The establishment of botany as an intellectual science came in classical times. In the 4th cent. BC, Aristotle and his pupil Theophrastus worked out descriptions and principles of plant types and functions that remained the prototype for botanical observation for 1,000 years. During the stagnant period of the Middle Ages the knowledge of the classical scholars was preserved in the European monasteries and by the Arabs in the Middle East. In the 16th and 17th cent. an interest in botany revived in Europe and spread to America by way of European conquest and colonization. At that time both botany and the art of gardening (see garden) stressed the utility of plants for man; the popular herbal, describing the medical uses of plants, mingled current superstition with fact. In the late 17th and the 18th cent. the influence of the ancient scholars was modified by the growth of scientific botany. Through careful and accurate observation the sciences of taxonomy and morphology (see biology) were developed, providing the basis for the first systematic classification of organisms, chiefly in the work of Linnaeus. With the microscope came the development of plant anatomy and research on the cell. New knowledge of the principles of chemistry and physics spurred experimentation in plant physiology, notably the early work of Stephen Hales on the sources and manufacture of plant food, which led to studies of such basic processes as photosynthesis. Modern botany has expanded into all areas of biology, including molecular biology, and has developed such specialties as ethnobotany, which studies the use of plants in preindustrial societies. Perhaps most significant was the work of Mendel in plant breeding at the middle (1859) of the 19th cent., from which grew the science of genetics. Allied with experimental botany are the various practical aspects that have developed into specific scientific disciplines (e.g., agriculture, agronomy, horticulture, and forestry).

See J. von Sachs, History of Botany (tr. 1890, repr. 1967); C. L. Wilson and W. E. Loomis, Botany (4th ed. 1967); C. B. Lees, Gardens, Plants and Man (1970); A. G. Morton, History of Botanical Science (1981).

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Botanist

Botanist

A botanist is a scientist who studies plants. The study of plants encompasses their evolution, classification, anatomy, physiology, development, genetics, diversity, ecology, and economic uses. Professional botanists typically specialize in one of these areas, or more likely in a smaller subspecialty, such as the evolution of the angiosperms (flowering plants), the biochemistry of photosynthesis, or the cultivation of roses for the wholesale market. Botanists may be employed by universities as professors or researchers; by the government to (for instance) conduct field studies of plant diversity in a national park or to compare crop planting systems; by agricultural industries to perform research on crops or to breed new types of plant varieties; or by pharmaceutical companies to discover new sources of plant-based drugs in the tropical rain forest, or to develop them in the lab from plant sources.

Botanists may work in laboratories or greenhouses performing experiments, or they may work outside in fields, forests, or other plant habitats. For many botanists, the opportunity to work with plants in their natural settings is a principal attraction of the discipline, along with an intellectual curiosity about how plants work, or a desire to improve their usefulness to humans. A career in botany requires at least a bachelor's degree from a four-year college. This would enable someone to begin work as a research assistant, for instance. Most professional botanists entering the field today earn a Ph.D., which gives them the qualifications and credentials to conduct research or manage a plant breeding program, for example. To pursue botany as a major in college, high school students should take courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and math, and would benefit from getting hands-on experience with plants, either by gardening, farming, working in a nursery or greenhouse, or simply exploring the natural world around them.

see also Angiosperms; Agronomist; Anatomy of Plants; Conifers; Evolution of Plants; Photosynthesis; Plant

Richard Robinson

Bibliography

Careers in Botany from the Botanical Society of America. <http://www.botany.org/bsa/careers/>.

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Botany

Botany

Botany is the study of plants. Plants make up a large fraction of all living organisms, and the study of botany is equally broad, including the physiology , genetics, anatomy, and morphology of plants, as well as their taxonomy, evolution, ecological relationships, and the many ways in which plants are used by people.

Like other scientific endeavors, the field of botany has grown immensely during the last decades of the twentieth century. It might also be said to have shrunk, however, as botanists have more carefully defined what a plant is. Fungi, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria, which were once classified as plants, are now placed in other kingdoms. Nonetheless, many who study these organisms still consider themselves botanists, and many university botany departments continue to include these organisms as topics of study within their departments.

Plants have an enormous influence on our lives through their use as foods, fibers, and fuels, as well as their critical role in recycling the gases of the atmosphere. More complete knowledge of botany improves our understanding of these influences, allowing us to use them more effectively, and more wisely.

see also Ecology, History of; Evolution of Plants, History of; Physiology, History of.

Richard Robinson

Bibliography

Raven, Peter H., Ray F. Evert, and Susan E. Eichhorn. Biology of Plants, 6th ed. New York: W. H. Freeman and Company, 1999.

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botany

bot·a·ny / ˈbätn-ē/ • n. the scientific study of plants, including their physiology, structure, genetics, ecology, distribution, classification, and economic importance. ∎  the plant life of a particular region, habitat, or geological period: the botany of North America. DERIVATIVES: bo·tan·ic / bəˈtanik/ adj. bot·a·nist / -ist/ n.

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botany

botany Study of plants and algae, including their classification, structure, physiology, reproduction, and evolution. The discipline used to be studied in two halves: lower (non-flowering) plants, which included the algae (now in the kingdom Protoctista), moss and ferns; and higher (seed-bearing) plants, including most flowers, trees and shrubs.

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botany

botany The scientific study of plants, including their anatomy, morphology, physiology, biochemistry, taxonomy, cytology, genetics, ecology, evolution, and geographical distribution.

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botanist

botanist •Hispanist • Zenist • pyrotechnist •Jainist • liberationist •machinist, tambourinist •hygienist • trampolinist •mandolinist, violinist •unwitnessed •misogynist, philogynist •Stalinist • Hellenist • feminist •illuminist • determinist • Leninist •alpinist • larcenist • Latinist •Byzantinist • Calvinist • chauvinist •Darwinist •honest, monist •corniced, hornist •trombonist • vibraphonist •sousaphonist •balloonist, bassoonist, cartoonist, lampoonist •opportunist • communist • pianist •Fabianist • accordionist • alienist •unionist • Zionist • urbanist •hedonist • modernist • telephonist •symphonist •saxophonist, xylophonist •agonist, antagonist, protagonist •tobogganist • organist • revisionist •diffusionist, exclusionist, fusionist, illusionist •religionist • tobacconist • mechanist •Africanist • Vaticanist • colonist •Mammonist •harmonist, shamanist •humanist • Germanist • canonist •expansionist • onanist • timpanist •accompanist • ironist • Saxonist •Jansenist • arsonist • abstractionist •expressionist, impressionist, progressionist, secessionist •insurrectionist, perfectionist, projectionist, protectionist, rejectionist, vivisectionist •interventionist • receptionist •accommodationist, associationist, collaborationist, conservationist, creationist, deviationist, educationist, federationist, isolationist, preservationist, representationist, restorationist, revelationist, salvationist, situationist, vacationist •abolitionist, coalitionist, demolitionist, exhibitionist, intuitionist, nutritionist, partitionist, prohibitionist, requisitionist, traditionist •fictionist, restrictionist •abortionist, contortionist, extortionist •Confucianist, devolutionist, elocutionist, evolutionist, revolutionist •constructionist, percussionist •obstructionist, reductionist •excursionist •Neoplatonist, Platonist, satanist •botanist •earnest, Ernest

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botany

botanyLéonie, peony •Tierney •Briony, bryony, Hermione •tourney • ebony • Albany •chalcedony • Alderney •Persephone, Stephanie, telephony •antiphony, epiphany, polyphony, tiffany •symphony •cacophony, homophony, theophany, Zoffany •euphony • agony • garganey •Antigone •cosmogony, mahogany, theogony •balcony • Gascony • Tuscany •calumny •felony, Melanie, miscellany •villainy • colony •Chamonix, salmony, scammony, Tammany •harmony •anemone, Emeny, hegemony, lemony, Yemeni •alimony, palimony •agrimony • acrimony •matrimony, patrimony •ceremony • parsimony • antimony •sanctimony • testimony • simony •Romany • Germany • threepenny •timpani • sixpenny • tuppenny •accompany, company •barony • saffrony • tyranny •synchrony • irony • saxony • cushiony •Anthony • betony •Brittany, dittany, litany •botany, cottony, monotony •gluttony, muttony •Bethany • oniony • raisiny •attorney, Burney, Czerny, Ernie, ferny, gurney, journey, Verny

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Botanist

Botanist

Education and Training: Doctoral degree

Salary: Average—$62,207 per year

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Botanists are biological scientists who study plants. Their field, botany, is very broad. It encompasses the study of more than three hundred thousand species of plants ranging from ground-hugging mosses to giant redwood trees. In addition, there are many different ways to approach the study of plant life. Botanists usually specialize in one type or group of plants, or one approach to the study of plants.

Botanists are often classified according to the types of plants that they study. For example, agronomists specialize in the study of agricultural crops and grasses. Marine botanists study plants that grow in the ocean.

Many botanists examine aspects shared by different plant species. Plant taxonomists, for example, identify and classify plants. Sometimes they explore unknown areas in order to find new types of plants. Plant physiologists are experts on the life processes of plants. They study how plants grow, reproduce, and manufacture food. Plant physiologists are concerned with the effects of temperature, humidity, light, and other environmental conditions on plant life processes. Economic botanists search for and develop plants that can be sold as food, drugs, fibers, or other useful goods. There are many other kinds of botanists. Some plant science workers in related areas specialize in the practical applications of the findings of research scientists. They work in fields such as agriculture, conservation, forestry, horticulture, and agronomy.

Many botanists work in colleges and universities where they teach and conduct research. Some are employed by government agencies. A small number of botanists work for private industry and in museums and botanical gardens.

Although their jobs may differ widely, most botanists are scientists who carry out research at least some of the time. Botanists use scientific equipment and methods in their work, including various types of microscopes and staining processes. They may work alone or as part of a research team. Sometimes biological technicians assist them.

The work of botanists is vital to our lives because we depend heavily on plants for food, fiber, wood, energy, and oxygen. In addition, the discoveries of botanists provide treatments for diseases such as cancer and to the development of new food sources.

Education and Training Requirements

Botanists generally need a doctoral degree. If you want to be a botanist, you should major in botany or biology as an undergraduate. You can receive a master's or doctoral degree in botany or in a more specialized area, such as plant physiology. Although there are some jobs for those with a bachelor's degree, such as technical writer or biological technician, opportunities for advancement are limited. There are some teaching and applied research positions for those who have earned a master's degree in an area of botany. You need a doctoral degree for a teaching and research position at a university or a job as an administrator. It generally takes four years to earn a bachelor's degree and another one or two years for a master's degree. You need to study for an additional two or three years to obtain a doctoral degree. To keep up with new findings in plant science, botanists must continue to study throughout their careers.

Getting the Job

Your professors and college placement office may help you to find a job as a botanist. You can also apply directly to colleges and universities, private firms, museums, botanical gardens, and government agencies involved with plant science. Sometimes you must pass a civil service test to get a government job. There are job openings listed in newspaper classifieds, Internet job banks, and professional journals.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

There are many advancement possibilities for botanists, especially for those who have a doctoral degree. They can become directors of research at government agencies or in private companies. Those who teach and do research at universities and colleges can advance to the rank of full professor. Many botanists feel that the highest form of advancement is to be recognized as experts in their areas of specialization. Generally botanists get this recognition after publishing significant research findings in professional journals.

The employment outlook for botanists who have advanced degrees is good through 2014; their employment is projected to grow about as fast as average. However, botanists can expect to face considerable competition for research positions. The number of grants awarded by the government to researchers will be limited due to recent budget cuts. In addition, the number of newly trained botanists has continued to increase at a steady rate, creating further competition for grants. The market for teaching jobs in colleges and universities will remain competitive.

Working Conditions

Working conditions vary widely throughout the field. Some botanists work indoors in clean, well-lighted laboratories. Others spend much of their time outdoors or in greenhouses. Some botanists need to travel from time to time to sites where they can collect plant specimens. Botanists often spend part of their time in offices and classrooms. Their working hours are generally flexible but often total more than forty hours a week. Because some experiments need to be tended around the clock, botanists may sometimes have to work rotating shifts.

Botanists should be curious and patient. They should enjoy working with plants and have the manual dexterity needed to handle delicate specimens and equipment. They should be willing to spend long hours in the laboratory or greenhouse, planning and carrying out experiments. Although botanists often work independently, they must be able to work well with others as members of scientific research teams. They should also be skilled at communicating their ideas to others.

Where to Go for More Information

Society for Ecological Restoration International
285 W. 18th St., Ste. 1
Tucson, AZ 85701
(520) 622-5491
http://www.ser.org

Botanical Society of America
P.O. Box 299
St. Louis, MO 63166-0299
(314) 577-9566
http://www.botany.org

Earnings and Benefits

The earnings of botanists depend on their education and experience, the location, and the kind of job. In the federal government in 2005, botanists in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions earned an average salary of $62,207. Botanists generally receive benefits that include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and pension plans.

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Botany

Botany

History of botany

Resources

Botany is the study of plants. It is one of the major fields of biology, together with zoology (the study of animals) and microbiology (the study of bacteria and viruses). Specializations within the field of botany include the study of mosses, algae, lichens, ferns, and fungi. Other specialties in botany include plant physiology, the study of the vital processes of plants, such as photosynthesis, respiration, and plant nutrition. Biochemists study the effects of soil, temperature, and light on plants, while plant morphologists study of the evolution and development of leaves, roots, and stems with a focus on the tissues at the tips of stems where the cells have the ability to divide.

Plant pathology studies the causes and control of plant diseases. Pathologists may work with a specific group of plants, such as forest trees, vegetable crops, grain, or ornamental plants, and they may concentrate on the interactions between host plants and pathogens, the carriers of disease. Economic botanists study the economic impact of plants as they relate to human needs for food, clothing, and shelter, while plant geneticists investigate the structure and behavior of genes in plants and plant heredity in order to develop crops that are resistant to diseases and pests. Paleobotany deals with the biology and evolution of plants by studying the fossil record in order to reconstruct the 600 million year history of plant life on this planet.

The relationship between plants and animals is one of interdependence. Without the evolution of plants, animals would not have been able to subsist. Animals, in turn, contribute to plant distribution, plant pollination, and every other aspect of plant growth and development. Through this interdependence, plants continue to adapt and change. Human intervention in the cultivation of plants has contributed equally to plant development. Today, the study of botany is only one aspect of ecology, the study of the environment. Plant ecologists are concerned with the effects of the environment on plants.

History of botany

Aristotle and Theophrastus, living in ancient Greece about the fourth century BC, were both involved in identifying plants and describing them. Theophrastus is called the father of botany because of his two surviving works on plant studies. While Aristotle also wrote about plants, he received more recognition for his studies of animals.

The early study of plants was not limited to Western cultures. The Chinese developed the study of botany along lines similar to the ancient Greeks at about the same time. In AD 60, another Greek, Dioscorides, wrote De Materia Medica, a work that described a thousand medicines, 60% of which came from plants. It remained the guidebook on medicines in the Western world for 1,500 years until the compound microscope was invented in the late sixteenth century, opening the way to the careful study of plant anatomy.

During the seventeenth century progress was made in experimenting with plants. Johannes van Helmont measured the uptake of water in a tree during the 1640s, and in 1727 Stephen Hales (16771761), an Englishman who is credited with establishing plant physiology as a science, published his experiments dealing with the nutrition and respiration of plants in a work entitled Vegetable Staticks. He developed techniques to measure area, volume, mass, pressure, gravity, and temperature in plants. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, Joseph Priestley (17331804) laid the foundation for the chemical analysis of plant metabolism.

During the nineteenth century advances were made in the study of plant diseases because of the potato blight that killed potato crops in Ireland in the 1840s, an event that led to a mass migration of Irish to America. The study of plant diseases developed rapidly after this event. When the work in genetics by Gregor Mendel (18221884), an Austrian monk, was applied after 1900 to plant breeding, the development of modern plant genetics began. During the early part of the nineteenth century, progress in the study of plant fossils was made, and ecology began to develop as a science in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Technology has helped specialists in botany to see and understand the three-dimensional nature of cells, and genetic engineering of plants has improved agricultural output. The study of plants continues as botanists try to both understand the structure, behavior, and cellular activities of plants in order to develop better crops, find new medicines, and explore ways of maintaining an ecological balance on Earth to continue to sustain both plant and animal life.

See also Taxonomy.

Resources

BOOKS

Campbell, N., J. Reece, and L. Mitchell. Biology. 5th ed. Menlo Park: Benjamin Cummings, Inc. 2000.

Evans, Howard Ensign. Pioneer Naturalists. New York: Holt, 1993.

Heiser, Charles B. Of Plants and People. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.

Morton, A.G. History of Botanical Science. London: Academic Press, 1981.

Roth, Charles E. The Plant Observers Guidebook. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984.

OTHER

National Biological Information Infrastructure. Botany <http://www.nbii.gov/disciplines/botany> (accessed November 6, 2006).

Vita Richman

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Botany

Botany

Sources

Signs . The natural sciences of botany, geology, and zoology have held a central position in the Muslims’ world-view, which sees all objects in nature as signs of God’s mercy and majesty. The Qur’an encourages Muslims to reflect on the inner, religious meaning of nature and to live in harmony with the natural world: “By the sun and its glorious splendor; By the moon, as it follows the sun; By the day as it shows up the sun’s glory; By the night as it conceals it; By the earth and its wide expanse; Truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it” (91: 1-10). Early Muslim manuscripts on natural history covered vast numbers of subjects. Some gave detailed descriptions of natural phenomena, while others took a symbolic and mythological outlook, but they all viewed nature as a source of wisdom beyond the merely scientific. One underlying theme of these writings was the idea that the natural world had an inner soul. This “World Soul” was divided into three parts: the Animal Soul, the Vegetative Soul, and the Mineral Soul. With this theory as a guide, Muslim scholars borrowed from Aristotle’s work on the natural world, De Anima , and then expanded on its

scientific and philosophical aspects, placing it in an Islamic context.

Practical Uses . Muslims also studied plants for agricultural and medicinal purposes. The great chemist Jabir ibn Hayyan (circa 725 - circa 815) also wrote texts on botany and agriculture, setting an example that later scholars followed. From the ninth century onward, Muslim botany books listed, classified, and described each plant, explaining how it grows, discussing its medicinal uses, and at times indicating its religious importance.

Writings on Plants . The most influential ninth-century botany text is al-Dinawari’s Kitab al-nabat (Book of Plants). In the tenth century the Ikhwan al-Safa (Brethren of Purity) wrote a book on the numerical symbolism of the various parts of plants, and how they fit into the total cosmic order, and in the eleventh century Ibn Sina (980-1037) dealt extensively with the healing nature of plants as well as the philosophy of botany, in his Kitab al-shifa (Book of Healing). Al-Baghdadi (died 1164) wrote Kitab al-itibar (The Eastern Key), a treatise on the plants of Egypt. During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Muslims in Spain also produced some major works on botany, mainly agricultural and pharmaceutical manuscripts. These works identified the flora of the western part of the Muslim region and systematized the study of them. By the fourteenth century the Muslims’ botanical knowledge was so extensive that their works became nearly “encyclopedic” in nature. Ibn al-Athir’s Tuhfat al-’ajaib (The Gift of Wonders) compiled the wisdom of earlier studies and included new discoveries.

Spiritual Meanings . Many Muslim scientists focused on the study of plants to further their spiritual understanding of the world around them. Plants are not only mentioned often in the Qur’an as signs of God’s mercy to humankind, but they also figure prominently in Qur’anic descriptions of Paradise. In Islamic art, stylized plants can be found decorating the minaret of a masjid or the ceramic tiles that surround a prayer room. These works of art are meant to remind the viewer of the Qur’anic verses that point to plants as an integral part of God’s creation. Persia and Muslim Spain became particularly well known for their elaborate gardens in which plants were chosen for their symbolic meanings to sophisticated viewers. Muslim music and poetry also used flowers and greenery as symbols of Paradise and love.

Sources

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study (London: World of Islam Festival Publishing, 1976).

Nasr, Science and Civilization in Islam (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1968).

Andrew Watson, Agricultural Innovation in the Early Islamic World v(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

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Botany

Botany

Botany is the study of plants. It is one of the major fields of biology , together with zoology (the study of animals) and microbiology (the study of bacteria and viruses). Specializations within the field of botany include the study of mosses, algae , lichens , ferns , and fungi . Other specialties in botany include plant physiology, the study of the vital processes of plants, such as photosynthesis , respiration , and plant nutrition . Biochemists study the effects of soil , temperature , and light on plants, while plant morphologists study of the evolution and development of leaves, roots, and stems with a focus on the tissues at the tips of stems where the cells have the ability to divide.

Plant pathology studies the causes and control of plant diseases . Pathologists may work with a specific group of plants, such as forest trees, vegetable crops , grain, or ornamental plants, and they may concentrate on the interactions between host plants and pathogens , the carriers of disease . Economic botanists study the economic impact of plants as they relate to human needs for food, clothing, and shelter, while plant geneticists investigate the structure and behavior of genes in plants and plant heredity in order to develop crops that are resistant to diseases and pests . Paleobotany deals with the biology and evolution of plants by studying the fossil record in order to reconstruct the 600 million year history of plant life on this planet .

The relationship between plants and animals is one of interdependence. Without the evolution of plants, animals would not have been able to subsist. Animals, in turn, contribute to plant distribution, plant pollination , and every other aspect of plant growth and development. It is through this interdependence that plants continue to adapt and change. Human intervention in the cultivation of plants has contributed equally to plant development. Today, the study of botany is only one aspect of ecology , the study of the environment. Plant ecologists are concerned with the effects of the environment on plants.


History of botany

Aristotle and Theophrastus, living in ancient Greece about the fourth century b.c., were both involved in identifying plants and describing them. Theophrastus is called the "father of botany," because of his two surviving works on plant studies. While Aristotle also wrote about plants, he received more recognition for his studies of animals.

The early study of plants was not limited to Western cultures. The Chinese developed the study of botany along lines similar to the ancient Greeks at about the same time. In a.d. 60, another Greek, Dioscorides, wrote De Materia Medica, a work that described a thousand medicines, 60% of which came from plants. It remained the guidebook on medicines in the Western world for 1,500 years until the compound microscope was invented in the late sixteenth century, opening the way to the careful study of plant anatomy .

During the seventeenth century progress was made in experimenting with plants. Johannes van Helmont measured the uptake of water in a tree during the 1640s, and in 1727 Stephen Hales, an Englishman who is credited with establishing plant physiology as a science, published his experiments dealing with the nutrition and respiration of plants in a work entitled Vegetable Staticks. He developed techniques to measure area, volume , mass , pressure , gravity, and temperature in plants. In the latter part of the eighteenth century, Joseph Priestley laid the foundation for the chemical analysis of plant metabolism .

During the nineteenth century advances were made in the study of plant diseases because of the potato blight that killed potato crops in Ireland in the 1840s, an event that led to a mass migration of Irish to America. The study of plant diseases developed rapidly after this event. When the work in genetics by Gregor Mendel, an Austrian monk, was applied after 1900 to plant breeding , the development of modern plant genetics began. During the early part of the nineteenth century, progress in the study of plant fossils was made, and ecology began to develop as a science in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Technology has helped specialists in botany to see and understand the three-dimensional nature of cells, and genetic engineering of plants has improved agricultural output. The study of plants continues as botanists try to both understand the structure, behavior, and cellular activities of plants in order to develop better crops, find new medicines, and explore ways of maintaining an ecological balance on Earth to continue to sustain both plant and animal life.

See also Taxonomy.


Resources

books

Campbell, N., J. Reece, and L. Mitchell. Biology. 5th ed. Menlo Park: Benjamin Cummings, Inc. 2000.

Evans, Howard Ensign. Pioneer Naturalists. New York: Holt, 1993.

Heiser, Charles B. Of Plants and People. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1985.

Morton, A.G. History of Botanical Science. London: Academic Press, 1981.

Roth, Charles E. The Plant Observer's Guidebook. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984.


Vita Richman

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Botany

Botany


Botany is the scientific study of plants. While early humans were very knowledgeable about identifying harmful and beneficial plants, the ancient Greeks were the first to study plants scientifically (or for the sake of gaining knowledge rather than any practical purpose). The study of plants greatly expanded with the seventeenth-century invention of the microscope and today, modern botany uses a whole range of tools that investigate plants at their genetic level.

Plants are multicelled organisms that live by making their own food using the process of photosynthesis to harness the energy of sunlight and convert it into food. Plants are essential to all living things since they provide food, oxygen, energy, and even wood. Since early humans were hunter-gatherers before they learned how to farm, it was especially important to know which plants were good to eat and which were not. Some plants were sometimes found to have medical uses. Until the Greeks studied plants in the fourth century, knowledge of plants consisted primarily of the following types of practical information—which plants were safe, which were harmful, and which were good to cure illness.

THEOPHRASTUS CONSIDERED THE FOUNDER OF BOTANY

The Greek scholar Theophrastus (c.372–c.287 b.c.) began to study plants as life-forms worthy of study by themselves rather than sources of food or drugs. His work, titled Enquiry into Plants, survives today and has earned him the title "founder of botany." In this work he studied a wide range of plants and discussed seeds, budding, and the effects of disease

and weather. He also attempted a classification of plants and described their different parts. Following Theophrastus, other Greeks and Romans were more interested in the practical aspects of plants and most books written were "herbals" or works that contained mainly medicinal (and sometimes mythical) information on plants. The tradition of herbals, which stressed plants that were useful to people, continued throughout medieval times and the Renaissance.

OTHERS EXPAND ON THEOPHRASTUS'S WORK

By the middle of the sixteenth century, the scientific tradition begun by Theophrastus was revived in Germany as several naturalists began to produce botanical books that were based on facts rather than on the elaborate and sometimes fantastic claims of the herbals. These naturalists also began to investigate plant anatomy (the structure or parts of plants) and plant physiology (the internal life processes that take place). This scientific tradition was reinforced in the next century by the invention of the microscope, which allowed a better view of a plant's minute parts. By the end of the seventeenth century, plant anatomy was being studied seriously and many correct scientific discoveries were being made. In 1682, the English physician Nehemiah Grew (1641–1712) published The Anatomy of Plants in which he displayed eighty-three full-page plates of microscopic sections of plant stems and roots. Grew was the first to state that flowers contained a plant's sexual reproductive organs. His work and that of others led to the landmark work of the Swedish clergyman and naturalist, Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778). After traveling through much of Europe studying plants, Linnaeus published in 1735 his System of Nature in which he created the modern form of systematic classification known as the binomial (two name) system. The first name he used was the genus, or the type of group, to which they belonged. This was followed by the species, or the particular name. His system soon became useful in classifying all living things. Following Linnaeus, botanists became increasingly specialized and nineteenth-century botany became best known for its discovery of photosynthesis and of the cellular structure of plants. By 1900, the earlier work of the Austrian monk Gregor Mendel (1822–1884), in which he worked out the actual laws of inheritance based on his work breeding pea plants, became well known and modern botany truly began.

Today, the study of botany has many interconnected branches. The major areas of investigation are plant anatomy or the study of the internal arrangement of plant parts; plant physiology or the processes (like photosynthesis) that take place inside a plant; plant morphology or the external or visible arrangement of a plant's parts; plant taxonomy or the identification and classification of plants; plant cytology or the study of plant cells; plant genetics or the study of plant inheritance; plant ecology or the study of a plant's relationship to its surroundings; plant paleobotany or the study of fossil plants; dendochronology or tree-ring dating; and ethnobotany or the relations between humans and plants (especially the identification of plants with medical properties).

THEOPHRASTUS

Greek botanist Theophrastus (327 b.c.–287 b.c.) is considered the father of botany, the scientific study of plants. He was the first to study plants solely for their own sake and not just to learn how they might be put to some practical use. Although few of his writings remain, what did survive became the principle source of botanical information for centuries.

Theophrastus was born on the Greek island of Lesbos and was lucky to study as a very young man with the great Greek philosopher, Plato (c.427 b.c.–c.347 b.c.). After Plato's death, Theophrastus met and became a lifelong friend of the second great philosopher of the ancient world, Aristotle (384 b.c.–322 b.c.). In fact, it was Aristotle who gave him his nickname "Theophrastus," meaning "divine speech." Aristotle had founded a school called the Lyceum which Theophrastus took over after Aristotle's retirement. Under Theophrastus's leadership, the school reached its highest point. There, he carried on Artistotle's teachings in biology, although he concentrated on the study of plants (botany), where Aristotle had specialized in the study of animals (zoology).

Although Theophrastus is believed to have written a great deal on many different subjects, only a small portion of his botanical work survived. In these works, he covered every major aspect of plants—their description, classification, and distribution as well as how plants propagate (reproduce). Significantly, he described the formation of the plant in the seed as being like the fetus of an animal, something produced by it but not a part of it. He identified and grouped more than five hundred species and varieties of plants from those he knew, as well as those from neighboring lands. He classified plants into trees, shrubs, undershrubs, and herbs and developed a way of naming plants based on their external and internal parts, which he called organs and tissues. He also described sexual reproduction in flowering plants, as well as seed germination (when a seed starts to grow and puts out a root) and development. Although the real function of pollen (dustlike grains that contain the plant's male sex cells) was not understood, he wrote detailed descriptions of how to pollinate certain fruit-bearing trees. His knowledge of plants was such that he knew that some flowers bear petals while others do not, and that there were major differences in the seed structure of flowering plants (called angiosperms) and cone-bearing trees (called gymnosperms). In fact, he is credited with inventing the term "gymnosperm" which in Greek means "naked seed." Finally, he described how Greek farmers used certain bean crops to enrich the soil. Today, farmers know that important nitrates (salts from nitric acid) are formed by bacteria that live on the roots of these bean plants, and that they add important nitrogen (a nonmetalic element) to the soil.

Theophrastus is rightly considered to be the founder of botany. Unlike many who followed him, his plant study was focused on learning about plants not for their practical uses (which are many and important), but from a purely scientific aspect, simply in order to learn more about them. His one surviving botanical work contains all the essentials of what today is considered scientific botany. He observed, collected, and systematized his botanical information, and wrote in a clear and accurate manner. Although missing from his work are all of the fabulous folk tales that surrounded plant lore, he brought a scientific mentality to the study of plants. In many ways, Theophrastus was more modern than anyone who followed him for the next two thousand years.

[See alsoPlant Anatomy; Plant Hormones; Plant Pathology; Plant Reproduction; Plants ]

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Botany

BOTANY

Botany, the study of plants, was the most actively pursued observational science in the late colonial and early national periods. The practice occupied the minds, filled the gardens, and guided the travels of hundreds of university-educated and self-taught men and women. This period witnessed the founding of botanical gardens; the publication of books, articles, and manuals for learned and popular audiences; the establishment of botany as a mainstay in college curricula; and the application of botanical knowledge toward an efficient and more bountiful agriculture. The period also saw American botanists enhance their position in the international botanical community from backwater collectors for foreign patrons to full-fledged, contributing members of the discipline, respected the world over.

Botany was practiced by a few men living in North America during the colonial period, primarily as collectors and agents of European naturalists and scientific societies looking to acquire samples for rare plant gardens and natural history cabinets. Pennsylvania's John Bartram (1699–1777), New York's Cadwallader Colden (1688–1776), and South Carolina's Alexander Garden (c. 1730–1791) laid the foundation of professional American botany through correspondence and sample and seed trade with European naturalists, particularly Peter Collinson and the Royal Society in London. At the same time Bartram, Colden, Garden, and others also drew on neighbors' and farmers' knowledge of local plants, suggesting that careful attention to plants was not an exclusively elite pursuit. Beginning in the late twentieth century, scholars have noted that much botanical information also came from women and slaves, which prompts an opportunity to revisit dominant narratives about the history of science and exposes rich new veins for future scholarship.

The years following the American Revolution (1775–1783) witnessed an efflorescence in botanical activity with the publication of new books, the creation of professorships at universities, the founding of professional scientific and medical journals covering the subject, and the establishment of the nation's first botanical gardens. Animated by nationalist zeal, botany enthusiasts sponsored exploratory expeditions into the interior of the continent—the expedition of Lewis and Clark, most famously—and encouraged ordinary citizens to describe plants in their neighborhoods and report their findings to the emerging scientific centers in Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and Charleston. Proponents of botany urged American citizens to scour forests and fields for plants that could be used for food, dyes, manufactures, and medicines; they suggested that, along with a financial windfall to the individual, the American who discovered a plant that could aid the growth of the nation was a true patriot. Benjamin Smith Barton (1766–1815), professor of botany at the University of Pennsylvania, urged readers of his Collections for an Essay towards a Materia Medica of the United States (1798) to consider that "the man who discovers one valuable new medicine is a more important benefactor to his species than Alexander, Caesar, or an hundred other conquerors." Barton's other textbook, his Elements of Botany (1803), became a discipline standard.

American-born botanists, however, were disappointed to observe that the most successful botanists studying North America were foreign-born and that their publications dominated the first years of the nineteenth century. In 1803 the French father-son team of André and François-André Michaux published North American Flora, the first general account of North American botany. In 1814 Frederick Pursh, the German traveler-botanist, published his two-volume Flora Americae Septentrionalis, the most comprehensive American botany text to date. Americanborn botanists redoubled their efforts and quickly rose to the forefront of botany in their native land. Amos Eaton (1776–1842), John Torrey (1796–1873), and Asa Gray (1810–1888) each published important botanical texts in the decades that followed—the latter two becoming the nation's preeminent botanists of the nineteenth century. These texts comprised naming, classifying, and describing the flora of the United States, and their authors spared little ink as they debated the merits of rival classificatory systems, the correct scientific and common names for plants, and the assignment of credit for the discovery of individual species.

Interest in plants was not confined to the academic elite. Unfortunately, historians know little about what might be termed "garden botany," local knowledge and experience of plants that went unrecorded by ordinary Americans. Only tantalizing glimpses of such knowledge can be found in the correspondence of credentialed botanists and in the conversations between those botanists and the ordinary Americans described in their botanical texts.

See alsoAgriculture: Agricultural Improvement; Education: Colleges and Universities; Lewis and Clark Expedition; Natural History; Nature, Attitudes Toward .

bibliography

Daniels, George H. American Science in the Age of Jackson. New York: Columbia University Press, 1968.

Greene, John C. American Science in the Age of Jefferson. Ames: Iowa State University, 1984.

Hindle, Brooke. The Pursuit of Science in Revolutionary America, 1735–1789. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1956.

Andrew J. Lewis

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