The Study of Botany

Botanists study classification, habitat, functioning and uses of plants. Because of the great diversity within the plant kingdom, botanists cannot study all of these areas. Therefore they specialize in certain areas of botany. These four areas are discussed below in detail.

Systematics is the study of identification of plant species. A botanist must be able to identify a particular plant. Related to systematics is taxonomy, a field of botany concerned with the classification of plants. Within a classification system, botanists group plants according to characteristics possessed by all individual plants of the same kind. Reproductive structures are the most reliable guide. Although such characteristics as growth habits and leaf structure are also considered, they are of secondary importance because they can be affected by climate, soil, and other factors. There is no single classification system that is accepted by all botanists. Furthermore, systems change as new discoveries are made, making it necessary to reclassify certain plants.

Morphology is the study of the form of the plant. Apart from external form of the plant, plant morphologists also study the internal structure of the plant, such as the cells and tissues in plants. Botanists also study plant genetics in order to learn how various traits are passed down through generations.

Molecular biology involves the study of the effect of genes on the characteristics inherited by the offspring from parent, and how these genes affect the functioning of plants.

Genetic engineering in plants involves altering the characteristics of a plant or its offspring by changing the genetic makeup of plants.

Ecology is the study of the relationship between the plant and its environment. It also involves the study of how plants interact with other organisms.

Plant geography is the study of geographical distribution of plants. Its tries to answer questions like why particular plants grow in particular areas.

Agronomy is the study of crops. Agronomists develop ways to improve crop yield.

Horticulture is the study of cultivation of flowers, ornamental plants and fruits.

Forestry involves the study of trees and their cultivation for use in lumber and other industries.