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The Plant World > Botany

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message 1: by M (last edited May 02, 2010 03:39PM) (new)

M (wwwgoodreadscomprofilem) | 337 comments Botany, plant science(s), phytology, or plant biology, is a branch of biology. It is the scientific study of plant life. Botany covers a wide range of scientific disciplines concerned with the study of plants, algae and fungi, including structure, growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, diseases, chemical properties, and evolutionary relationships between taxonomic groups. Botany began with early human efforts to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, making it one of the oldest sciences. Today botanists study over 550,000 species of living organisms.

The study of plants is vital because they are a fundamental part of life on Earth, which generates the oxygen, food, fibres, fuel and medicine that allow humans and other life forms to exist. Through photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that in large amounts can affect global climate. Additionally, they prevent soil erosion and are influential in the water cycle.
A good understanding of plants is crucial to the future of human societies as it allows us to:

- Produce food to feed an expanding population
- Understand fundamental life processes
- Produce medicine and materials to treat diseases and other ailments
- Understand environmental changes more clearly

Paleobotanists study ancient plants in the fossil record. It is believed that early in the Earth's history, the evolution of photosynthetic plants altered the global atmosphere of the earth, changing the ancient atmosphere by oxidation.

Plants can also help us understand Environmental changes in on our environment in many ways.

- Understanding habitat destruction and species extinction is dependent on an accurate and complete catalog of plant systematics and taxonomy.
- Plant responses to ultraviolet radiation can help us monitor problems like ozone depletion.
- Analyzing pollen deposited by plants thousands or millions of years ago can help scientists to reconstruct past climates and predict future ones, an essential part of climate change research.
- Recording and analyzing the timing of plant life cycles are important parts of phenology used in climate-change research.
-Lichens, which are sensitive to atmospheric conditions, have been extensively used as pollution indicators.

In many different ways, plants can act a little like the 'miners' canary', an early warning system alerting us to important changes in our environment. In addition to these practical and scientific reasons, plants are extremely valuable as recreation for millions of people who enjoy gardening, horticultural and culinary uses of plants every day.


message 2: by Clare (new)

Clare O'Beara | 6272 comments Mod
The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History
The Triumph of Seeds How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History by Thor Hanson

This is a fascinating recent look at the variety of seeds we use from around the world.


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