Though the science botany as we know it today starting out throughout the period of Western colonialism within an area of study by landowners of their plants and trees in their land along with the exotic specimens they’d bring back from their travels, human interest in plants goes back much farther. Arguably, it’s the dawn of the nineteenth century some 12,000 decades back as well as beyond that when people sought to identify plants with healing properties, their growing seasons, people who could or could not be eaten, the way to breed them for hardiness or bigger yields, fruits and veggies have all been critical to our social improvement. Even before there was science as we know it, humanity has analyzed plants and it was this understanding that pushes the Agricultural Revolution in developing crops amongst other things.
Civilisation means surplus society, and when we refer to surplus we usually mean plants – throughout the near Middle East, civilization distributes and it is chiefly because of developing farming approaches of the Neolithic. Ancient Greece and Rome were periods of great learning and it’s no surprise then that there are prominent characters that drove the science forward as best they can. Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Dioscorides were important ancient figures to plant research and Theophrastus is called “The Father of Botany” because of two seminal works which were used for another 1500 years and survive today. Nor is research limited to western civilization, Chinese civilization made about the same sort of progress as Greek civilization across the same time and there may have been a trade of knowledge due to The Silk Road.
For the next 1500 decades, there would be little development and most botanical studies were confined to places of learning such as universities and monasteries. Physic gardens were popular at a few of the biggest monasteries in the Christian world and those were vital for what limited research went on into the medical aspects of crops – many of the knowledge though was what had been passed on from Roman and Greek civilization.
Not only could we learn about the plants, but also study their reproduction, metabolism and other facets that had until then, been closed off to us.
Not only were researchers interested in the science, but average people were starting to appreciate plants in themselves rather than purely for practical factors. Public gardens were set all over the western world and wealthy landowners turned over vast tracts of land for parks and gardens. When originally opened, many botanic gardens were dedicated to classification, labeling and the trading of seeds. Today, all these are vital research centers often tied to universities.
Even the BSA (Botanical Society of America) was founded in 1893 and though at the time the organization accepted members from USA and Canada, today it is among the foremost botanical organizations with associates all around the world. It’s during this century that many other countries established botanical societies as a result of the developing fascination with crops and the gaining momentum of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Botany has seen a resurgence in the last few decades as a result of a growing awareness of the consequences of climate change. We may have learned much about most human plants but in the coming years, they’ll be vital in teaching us about the ecology of the future.