What is botany and what branches does it study?

We live in a world inhabited by billions of plants: from tiny grasses that barely rise two inches from the ground, to trees that seem to want to touch the sky as they grow more than 40 or 50 meters in height. There is so much variety that humans, driven by innate curiosity and by the need we have to name and classify it – almost – everything, we begin to identify them.

First they were, how could it be otherwise, potentially edible plants since we began to evolve, about 3 million years ago. The method we used was trial and error. There was no other! But little by little, as time passed, we modernized, developing more rigorous techniques and studies. This is how botany was born, one of the most exciting sciences in the world, if I may say so .

What is botany?

Botany is the science that studies plants: their characteristics, their origin, their evolution,… everything, even the relationships they have with other living beings and the positive and negative effects that they cause on the environment in which they are found.. Therefore, if we were to explain what botanists do, we would have to say something like: the study of algae, fungi, cyanobacteria, and of course plants, because in reality, all these organisms are related.

We have to distinguish between two types: pure botany, which is responsible for studying nature, and applied botany, whose research is of great help to agricultural and forestry technicians, as well as to the pharmaceutical industry.

History of botany

Although today it is easy to confuse gardening with botany, or even think that they are synonymous, the truth is that gardening as we know it is relatively modern. Not long ago we humans grew plants to enjoy their beauty. In fact, the first evidences of ornamental gardens are in some Egyptian paintings of the year 1500 a. But botany is much more ‘ancient’.

As we said at the beginning, humans from the beginning have had a close relationship with plants, since we have always included them in our diet: they not only help us to deworm internally, but they also help us to have better health… and a full stomach. But since nobody is born knowing, the knowledge of the different plants has been passed from generation to generation, at the beginning it was transmitted through conversations and gestures, and later, with the invention of writing in 4000 BC. C., sooner than later began to name the plant beings that were (and are) useful to us, and those that are dangerous.

At that time you couldn’t imagine how far we would go. The truth is that modern humans can find it hard to think or imagine how we will relate to plants in the future.

Theophrastus// Image – Wikimedia/ Aesculapius

The current botany began to develop in classical Greece, and continued during the time of the Roman Empire. The one who is considered the father of botany, Theophrastus, left two very important works: De historia plantarum and De causis plantarum. The Romans contributed above all to the knowledge of botany applied to agriculture, but it is estimated that during their time they recorded between 1300 and 1400 plants.

After the fall of Rome and, especially, with the arrival of the Middle Ages, which had the Church as its main ruler, much of the knowledge that had been acquired until then was ignored. Fortunately, this did not last long: in the seventeenth century, modern science originated from the hand of scientists as important as Descartes, Galileo or Kepler, and European naturalists saw the ideal opportunity to continue studying plants and the environment. in which they live.

Carlos Linneo was one of the greats. Several innovations in taxonomy (that is, in the classification of plants: order, family, genus, species, etc.) are attributed to him. He, after reading “The Principle of Natural Selection” by Charles Darwin, was able to understand them better, and carry out a more exhaustive study of them.

From 1945 on, modern botany began to be a science that has acquired a great deal of knowledge and continues to acquire it.

What branches does botany study?

Study several, but the most important are:

  • Plant anatomy: is the one in charge of studying the internal structure of plants.
  • Marine botany: study aquatic plants and algae that live in the sea.
  • Plant cytology: is the one that studies and investigates plant cells.
  • Phycology: it is a discipline dedicated to the study of algae.
  • Paleobotany: it is a science that studies the origin and evolution of plants that lived in the past.

Other disciplines that are related and that are also of great interest are the following:

  • Agriculture: they are a set of techniques and knowledge that allow us to cultivate the land.
  • Ecology: it is the study of the relationships of different living beings, both with each other and with their environment.
  • Phytopathology: it is the science that studies the diseases that plants can have, but not pests.
  • Horticulture: it is science, technology and all businesses related to the production of both ornamental plants and for consumption.

Related article:What do plants need to live?

Why is botany important? What is it for?

Knowledge does not take place, but when it comes to something that we know is very useful, it is important to know about it. As far as botany is concerned, this is important because thanks to it we know…:

  • which plants are edible and which are not,
  • how they adapt to the environment and how they are evolving,
  • what uses they can have (in medicine, carpentry, etc.),
  • how the climate is changing and how these changes affect different parts of the planet.

And with this we finish the post. We hope you have learned a lot about botany .

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