What is Botany and why do we care?

Human and Animal Dependence on Plants

Food products

Oxygen production

Lumber and wood products




Coal, oil

Other biomass fuels (methane, gasohol)


Botany as a Science

Study of plants, called botany

Sub-discipline within biology (study of all living things), parallel with zoology (study of animals).

Study of botany often includes non-plants:

Fungi, algae and some bacteria

Why are these not plants?

Scientific method


Hypothesis Formation

Hypothesis Testing

Results Evaluation


Scientific method

Hypothesis An idea to try to explain a set of facts or observations, should be as simple as possible.

Theory - A broad statement covering a large body of knowledge; generally accepted by scientists to be "true".

Law - A hypothesis that basically every scientists accepts as fact. Often supported by multiple theories, and holds a central place in science.

Botanical Disciplines (a few examples)

Plant anatomy: structure of plants
example: Measuring tree rings to look at growth patterns and reconstruct past climate changes.

Botanical Disciplines (a few examples)

Plant physiology: plant function
example: How do different plants take up carbon dioxide and nitrogen? Important with global climate change.

Botanical Disciplines (a few examples)

Plant taxonomy: (also plant systematics) categorizing and naming plants
example: Identifying different species of maple trees (these are related, all in genus Acer, but three different species)

Botanical Disciplines (a few examples)

Plant ecology: (includes plant geography) interaction of plants with other organisms and their environment
example: Succession (changes) of plant communities over time

Botanical Disciplines (a few examples)

Genetics: heredity
example: Traditional breeding of crops

Botanical Disciplines (a few examples)

Cell biology (cytology): cell structure and function
example: Developing "biotech" plants manipulates cells as well as genetic material in plants

Botany at Centralia College

Botany 110 = Survey of Botany, with emphasis on plant structure and function, some classification, conservation and other issues

Botany 113 = detailed taxonomy of plant kingdom with emphasis on native plants of western Washington

Botany 150 = biology and ecology of trees


Interested in botany as a major? You should take the Biology 111, 112, 113 sequence, plus some other botany courses. See me if you need an advisor.