Science History

History of Botany

A diagram of a eudicot, which is the most common type of plantOur world is filled with a wide variety of plants, and each has a unique characteristic. Even before pre-historic times, plants are already present in our world, and throughout the years, people continue to take advantage of this incredible creation.

Because of the diversity of plants, some people dedicate their lives to studying its mysteries. In the world of science, the study of plants is called botany, which is under biology. This branch of science made a significant impact on the advancement of our modern world, wherein it helps us utilize and preserve plant life on our planet.

In this article, we are going to look into the more profound definition of botany, and mainly – what is its history?

What is Botany?

As mentioned earlier, botany is the study of plants. People who specialize in the study of the science of plant life are often called botanists. In the earlier years of botany, scientists included the study of fungi and algae because of their classifications as plants. However, further studies of their properties made changes to their classification, separating them from the group of plants.

In our modern world, botanists already identified and studying roughly 410,000 species of land plants. Since ancient times, experts pursued the study of plants. It is because particular species of plants work as a medicine to treat common illnesses, which was popular during ancient times.

What is the origin of botany?

Statue of Theophrastus

Ancient practices used plants to treat medical conditions. It was a standard method used by experts since medicinal drugs were not yet available until the 19th century. The earliest records of the origin of botany show various ancient writings and plant classifications, which experts found in India and China – dating back to 1100 BC and 220 BC, respectively.

Moreover, we can trace back the modern practice of botany to ancient Greece, wherein most of its principles were invented and defined. It was during the 3rd century BC when the natural philosopher Theophrastus started his study about the properties of nature, including natural history and physics. However, his main focus was botany, wherein he did several writings about the classification of plants and their properties.

Interestingly, Theophrastus was a student of the great natural philosopher Aristotle and became his successor in the Peripatetic School. He continued the work of Aristotle, wherein he focused more on the study of plants and heavily contributed to its scientific advances. Because of his remarkable work on the field of botany, the scientific community widely regards him as the ‘Father of Botany.’

Botany continues to advance over the years, and during the 1st century, the Greek physician and pharmacologist PedaniusDioscorides wrote an encyclopedia consisting of various herbal medicines. The book is called De Materia Medica, which was popular during ancient Greece and made a huge impact on the development of botany.

The history of botany made its breakthrough during the 16th century when botanical gardens came to existence in several universities in Italy. The botanical gardens are one way to promote plant life in the country. Furthermore, it helps the study of plants because it enables botanists to observe them from various perspectives.

Fast forward to the 18th century when the science of botany took a giant leap. During this time, the British botanists named George Bentham and Joseph Dalton Hooker devised the Genera Plantarum, which shows a system of identification for different species of plants. This system helps sort unidentified plants and placed them into taxonomic groups based on the characteristics of each.

During the 19th century, the German botanist named Matthias Schleiden authored the first modern botanical textbook, which sparked interests from fellow botanists to contribute to the study. Schleiden’s work influenced many scientists around the globe, and apart from his book, he also co-founded the cell theory, which made a significant impact on the science of biology.

Throughout the years, several other scientists contributed to the development of botany until it reached the stage that we have today. Modern botany continues to pursue scientific advances, and scientists dedicate their career to discovering more phenomena about plant life.

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