Planting A Seed: What Is Botany?

Thursday March 14, 2013

By Shanon Trueman

If you are the type of person who is always asking friends for cuttings from their favorite indoor plants; or, if your idea of a fun outing is to go to a tropical plant greenhouse or to an outdoor arboretum, raise your hand. Take it from someone who knows firsthand; you may just be interested in the scientific field called botany.

What exactly is botany? Botany is the study of plant life, including agricultural crops, flowers, grasses, weeds, herbs, trees, cacti, lichens, and even some types of algae. A student of botany will learn about plant physiology (the inner workings of plants), plant anatomy (the internal plant parts), and plant morphology (plant parts such as the leaves, the stems, and the flowers). Studying botany can lead to employment in a greenhouse or nursery, in a research facility, or as a teacher.

Plants are used for an amazingly wide range of things. We all know that flowers, grasses, and trees can be used to beautify a landscape, and that the wood from trees is used to build houses and to make paper. And there are a lot of plants that are tasty to eat (and some that are not so tasty, but Mom has told you that some plants are good for us to eat, right?)

Photo: USDA-ARS.


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