Botany now represents so vast a field of knowledge and research that it is quite impossible for any single individual to gain an intimate first-hand acquaintance with all its different branches. Many research workers spend their lives in cultivating a small area of one portion of this immense territory. Reprints and Permissions. Journal of Historical Geography Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.
Advanced search. Skip to main content. We may have learnt much about most individual plants but in the coming years they will be vital in teaching us about the ecology of the future 7. Botany today is such a large and varied area and has many important uses in a wide variety of disciplines, that it has evolved several niches and offshoots. The most notable are as follows, but this list is not exhaustive:. It is often tragedy that drives scientific discovery and the Irish Potato Blight of the 19 th century is the one period where most advances in research of plant diseases were made - many researchers put their efforts into plant pathology - the reasons should be obvious, if disease wipes out a large proportion of a staple crop then people starve.
With Potato Blight, the tuber or the roots rot, rendering the whole crop useless. The mass spread of this disease caused one of the greatest famines anywhere in the western world and has never been seen since. Today, plant pathology is still a vital component of botany as we attempt to adapt crops to the changing climate and keep one step ahead of evolving diseases.
An ongoing research problem for plant pathologists is how to tackle the many diseases that threaten bananas. The limited genetic make-up and the seedless nature of modern cultivars means that several types have already gone extinct and several others remain under threat Plant pathology is vital to understanding disease as well as the potential problems caused by climate change.
Plant ecology differs from botany in that it is more concerned with how plants interact with their environment - with and in soils, with animal species, how it reacts to ecological change such as climate change and many more issues of the wider landscape This is vital in a world understanding and adapting to climate change in working out how to breed or otherwise alter our staple plants to survive and adapt to changing environments.
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Each has its own ecological profile, and balanced plant and animal life and how these interact is as important as each plant's profile in order that we can understand their evolution. Palaeobotany is the study of extinct plants 6 or fossilised plants recovered from geological strata Palaeobotanists will also study fossilised algae, bacteria, fungi and lichens - just as botanists study modern plants in these taxa. Palaeobotany has been fundamental to understand the changing climate of the past.
It shows us what the ecological make-up of each climate zone was like at any given period of our distant past. Extensive studies in South America have shown precisely how and when the tropical rainforests there developed 13 and what conditions led to their evolution.
We also expect that such information will tell us about how they might change in future in light of a changing climate. Palaeobotany is also shedding light on the nature and the extent of plant species during the Ice Age. One study examined the land bridge between modern Siberia and Alaska, showing how people lived there and may have crossed this land bridge in antiquity Though most researchers in this area come from an archaeological or anthropological background, a botanist will have the tools to enter into the field of studying how people in the past used plants.
This discipline can be functional - in terms of looking at the spread of crop farming 12 , wetland drainage, irrigation and other forms of ecological engineering - but it can also teach us about how people of the past experienced plants. As we have already discussed, some plants have medicinal properties and others have had - and continue to have - spiritual significance.
Sometimes understanding the plant can also help us to understand the beliefs of the past Archaeobotanists will not just look at plant remains in the soil, but residues in broken pottery and on stone tools for example. In understanding how environments change, it is vital to separate changes wrought upon a landscape by nature from changes made as a result of human ecological engineering. Seeds and other plant remains can be great indicators for change, and archaeobotany 14 has been vital for tracking the spread of the Neolithic Revolution as landscapes undergo wholesale change purely because of human changes - and by extension, in some cases the spread of the market economy.
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Plant Morphogenesis 123: a renaissance in modern botany?
The naming of names: the search for order in the world of plants. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing. Shteir, Ann B. Cultivating women, cultivating science: Flora's daughters and botany in England, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
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Retrieved 18 February Thomas, Vivian; Faircloth, Nicki Shakespeare's Plants and Gardens: A Dictionary. Bloomsbury Publishing. Botanical art and illustration [ edit ] Kusukawa, Sachiko University of Chicago Press. The flowering of Florence: botanical art for the Medici.
Washington: National Gallery of Art. Historical sources [ edit ] Gerard, John The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes. London: John Norton. Retrieved 26 November Johnson, Thomas, ed. Retrieved 19 February Johnson, Thomas Fuchs, Leonhart De Historia Stirpium Commentarii Insignes.
Basileae: In officina Isingriniana. Retrieved 20 February Pulteney, Richard London: T. Penny Cyclopedia — London: Charles Knight. Penny Cyclopaedia vol. V Blois—Buffalo. New York: Appleton. Bibliographic sources [ edit ] Johnston, Stanley H. Kent State University Press. Taxonomic literature: a selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates, commentaries and types.
Articles [ edit ] Bruns, Tom Bibcode : Natur. Johnson, Dale E. Singer, Charles The Edinburgh Review. Spencer, Roger ; Cross, Rob Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society. Acta Horticulturae. Starr Chester. Chronica Botanica. Bibcode : SoilS.. Raven, John A. April New Phytologist. George, Sam June Comparative Critical Studies. Spring Eighteenth-Century Studies. Iconography, Gender, and Science". Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture. Websites [ edit ] BSA. Botany for the Next Millennium: I. The intellectual: evolution, development, ecosystems.
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