What Are Five Different Fields of Botany?

What Are Five Different Fields of Botany?
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What is botany, and what does a botanist study? A broad topic with many subfields, ​botany​ is the scientific study of plants. Because botany is such a diverse field of study, many botanists specialize in particular areas of the field. The study of plants includes diverse disciplines, including everything from ​phytogenesis​ – a specialty concerned with the evolution of plants – to ​astrobotany​, which relates to the possibility of growing plants on other planets.

Botany Today has compiled a list of over 30 branches of botany, and Collins Dictionary lists over 15 fields under the heading of botany. Here's an overview of five different categories of botany – and many more than five different fields of botany – that will help you understand how botany is useful in your life today.

Plants and Humans

The first category of botany, dealing with the relationship between plants and humans, includes specialties like ​ethnobotany​, which investigates the connections between plants and human cultures. Ethnobotanists have discovered many plants with medicinal purposes in regions like the tropical rainforests, and investigating the historical uses of plants has helped researchers identify plants with potential for fighting diseases.

A related field, scientists who study ​forensic botany​ investigate plant evidence to uncover clues about crime. ​Economic botany​, which is concerned with plants that have commercial importance, also has to do with the relationships between plants and humans, including how humans use plants for food and medicine.

Applied Plant Science

A wide category that includes fields of botany like agronomy, biotechnology, forestry, natural resource management and plant pathology, applied plant science is related to practical uses of plants. While ​agronomists​ help increase the yields of crops like corn and wheat, botanists who specialize in ​biotechnology​ work with plant genes to improve plants.

Foresters​ are concerned with the management of woodlands to produce timber, and botanists who work in natural resource management are focused on the responsible management of the planet's natural plant-derived resources. ​Plant pathology​ is an important specialty related to the prevention and control of plant diseases.

Plants and the Environment

Botany, the study of plants, includes fields related to the environment as a whole. ​Plant ecologists​ investigate the relationships between plants and their environments, which is becoming increasingly important as our climate changes. This includes details like the soils plants live in, the climates they grow in and the animals they interact with. Understanding these connections is essential, notes Environmental Science, because this knowledge will help humans survive, adapt and continue to cultivate plants in shifting environments.

Evolution of Plants

Understanding the ways that plants have evolved and adapted over thousands of years is critical to knowledge of the plant kingdom. ​Plant taxonomy​ is the botanical field concerned with identifying, naming and classifying plants – which helps researchers to see how different species are related. ​Plant genetics​ is related to taxonomy as it helps scientists understand plant genes and how they are inherited.

Those who study ​paleobotany​ use fossils to learn about extinct plants, which helps them understand how the planet has changed as plants have evolved. By looking at fossilized plants, scientists find clues about the environments they grew in.

Other Specialties of Botany

There are botanists who devote their careers to studying algae, a field known as ​algology​. If you are passionate about grasses, there's a botanical field just for you, called ​agrostology​. And if orchids are your thing, you might consider specializing in ​orchidology​.

There are botanists who focus on fruits and nuts, a field referred to as ​pomology​. There is so much interest in roses that they get their own special field, called ​rhodology​. Some plant scientists spend their time studying pollen grains and spores, a specialty known as ​palynology​.

Botany is a vast topic of study with an incredible range of specialties. There's something for everyone who loves plants in the field of botany!

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