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Pinguicula grandiflora commonly known as a Butterwort
Botany, plant science(s), phytology, or plant biology is a branch of biology and is the scientific study of plant life and development. Botany covers a wide range of scientific disciplines that study plants, algae, and fungi including: structure, growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, diseases, chemical properties, and evolutionary relationships between the different groups. Botany began with early human efforts to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, making botany one of the oldest sciences. From this ancient interest in plants, the scope of botany has increased to include the study of over 550,000 species of living organisms.


Scope and importance of botany

As with other life forms in biology, plant life can be studied from different perspectives, from the molecular, genetic and biochemical level through organelles, cells, tissues, organs, individuals, plant populations, and communities of plants. At each of these levels a botanist might be concerned with the classification (taxonomy), structure (anatomy and morphology), or function (physiology) of plant life.
Historically all living things were grouped as animals or plants,[1] and botany covered all organisms not considered animals. Some organisms once included in the field of botany are no longer considered to belong to the plant kingdom – these include fungi (studied in mycology), lichens (lichenology), bacteria (bacteriology), viruses (virology) and single-celled algae, which are now grouped as part of the Protista. However, attention is still given to these groups by botanists, and fungi, lichens, bacteria and photosynthetic protists are usually covered in introductory botany courses.
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.

Human nutrition

Nearly all the food we eat comes (directly and indirectly) from plants like this American long grain rice
Virtually all foods eaten come from plants, either directly from staple foods and other fruit and vegetables, or indirectly through livestock or other animals, which rely on plants for their nutrition. Plants are the fundamental base of nearly all food chains because they use the energy from the sun and nutrients from the soil and atmosphere, converting them into a form that can be consumed and utilized by animals; this is what ecologists call the first trophic level. Botanists also study how plants produce food we can eat and how to increase yields and therefore their work is important in mankind's ability to feed the world and provide food security for future generations, for example, through plant breeding. Botanists also study weeds, plants which are considered to be a nuisance in a particular location. Weeds are a considerable problem in agriculture, and botany provides some of the basic science used to understand how to minimize 'weed' impact in agriculture and native ecosystems. Ethnobotany is the study of the relationships between plants and people.

Fundamental life processes

Plants are convenient organisms in which fundamental life processes (like cell division and protein synthesis) can be studied, without the ethical dilemmas of studying animals or humans. The genetic laws of inheritance were discovered in this way by Gregor Mendel, who was studying the way pea shape is inherited. What Mendel learned from studying plants has had far reaching benefits outside of botany. Additionally, Barbara McClintock discovered 'jumping genes' by studying maize. These are a few examples that demonstrate how botanical research has an ongoing relevance to the understanding of fundamental biological processes.

Medicine and materials

Many medicinal and recreational drugs, like tetrahydrocannabinol, caffeine, and nicotine come directly from the plant kingdom. Others are simple derivatives of botanical natural products; for example, aspirin is based on the pain killer salicylic acid which originally came from the bark of willow trees. As well, the narcotic analgesics such as morphine are derived from the opium poppy.[2] There may be many novel cures for diseases provided by plants, waiting to be discovered. Popular stimulants like coffee, chocolate, tobacco, and tea also come from plants. Most alcoholic beverages come from fermenting plants such as barley (beer), rice (sake) and grapes (wine).
Plants also provide us with many natural materials, such as hemp, cotton, wood, paper, linen, vegetable oils, some types of rope, and rubber. The production of silk would not be possible without the cultivation of the mulberry plant. Sugarcane, rapeseed, soy and other plants with a highly-fermentable sugar or oil content have recently been put to use as sources of biofuels, which are important alternatives to fossil fuels (see biodiesel).

Environmental changes

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


From Greek βοτάνη = "pasture, grass, fodder", perhaps via the idea of a livestock keeper needing to know which plants are safe for livestock to eat.


The traditional tools of a botanist

Early botany

Ancient India
Early examples of plant taxonomy occur in the Rigveda, that divides plants into Vṛska (tree), Osadhi (herbs useful to humans) and Virudha (creepers), which are then further subdivided. The Atharvaveda divides plants into eight classes, Visakha (spreading branches), Manjari (leaves with long clusters), Sthambini (bushy plants), Prastanavati (which expands); Ekasṛnga (those with monopodial growth), Pratanavati (creeping plants), Amsumati (with many stalks), and Kandini (plants with knotty joints). The Taittiriya Samhita classifies the plant kingdom into vṛksa, vana and druma (trees), visakha (shrubs with spreading branches), sasa (herbs), amsumali (a spreading or deliquescent plant), vratati (climber), stambini (bushy plant), pratanavati (creeper), and alasala (those spreading on the ground).
Manusmriti – Law book of Hindus – proposed a classification of plants in eight major categories. Charaka Samhitā and Sushruta Samhita and the Vaisesikas also present an elaborate taxonomy.
Parashara, the author of Vṛksayurveda (the science of life of trees), classifies plants into Dvimatrka (Dicotyledons) and Ekamatrka (Monocotyledons). These are further classified into Samiganiya (Fabaceae), Puplikagalniya (Rutaceae), Svastikaganiya (Cruciferae), Tripuspaganiya (Cucurbitaceae), Mallikaganiya (Apocynaceae), and Kurcapuspaganiya (Asteraceae).[3]
Important medieval Indian works of plant physiology include the Prthviniraparyam of Udayana, Nyayavindutika of Dharmottara, Saddarsana-samuccaya of Gunaratna, and Upaskara of Sankaramisra.[3]
Ancient China
In ancient China, the recorded listing of different plants and herb concoctions for pharmaceutical purposes spans back to at least the Warring States (481 BC-221 BC). Many Chinese writers over the centuries contributed to the written knowledge of herbal pharmaceutics. There was the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD) written work of the Huangdi Neijing and the famous pharmacologist Zhang Zhongjing of the 2nd century. There was also the 11th century scientists and statesmen Su Song and Shen Kuo, who compiled treatises on herbal medicine and included the use of mineralogy.
Greco-Roman world
Among the earliest of botanical works in Europe, written around 300 B.C., are two large treatises by Theophrastus: On the History of Plants (Historia Plantarum) and On the Causes of Plants. Together these books constitute the most important contribution to botanical science during antiquity and on into the Middle Ages. Aristotle also wrote about plants. One theory about plants that Greco-Romans came up with about plants was that they ate soil for nutrients.[4]
The Roman medical writer Pedanius Dioscorides (ca.40-90) provides important evidence on Greek and Roman knowledge of medicinal plants. Dioscorides is famous for writing a five volume book in his native Greek Περί ύλης ιατρικής (De Materia Medica - in the Latin translation) that is one of the most influential herbal books in history. In fact, it remained in use until about CE 1600.[5] Approximately 1300-1400 different plant species were known under Roman reign.[6]

Medieval botany

The Persian biologist Abū Ḥanīfa Dīnawarī (828-896) is considered the founder of Arabic botany for his Book of Plants, in which he described at least 637 plants and discussed plant development from germination to death, describing the phases of plant growth and the production of flowers and fruit.[7]
Theophrastus’s Historia Plantarum served as a reference point in botany for many centuries, and was further developed around 1200 by Giovanni Bodeo da Stapelio, who added a commentarius and drawings: see Historia Plantarum —Selected pages of a 17th century edition of the 1200 version (in Italian).
In the early 13th century, the Andalusian-Arabian biologist Abu al-Abbas al-Nabati developed an early scientific method for botany, introducing empirical and experimental techniques in the testing, description and identification of numerous materia medica, and separating unverified reports from those supported by actual tests and observations.[8] His student Ibn al-Baitar (d. 1248) wrote a pharmaceutical encyclopedia describing 1,400 plants, foods, and drugs, 300 of which were his own original discoveries. A Latin translation of his work was useful to European biologists and pharmacists in the 18th and 19th centuries.[9]

Early modern botany

Crantz's Classis cruciformium..., 1769
German physician Leonhart Fuchs (1501–1566) was one of the three founding fathers of botany, along with Otto Brunfels (1489- 1534) and Hieronymus Bock (1498–1554) (also called Hieronymus Tragus).[10]
Valerius Cordus (1515–1554) authored one of the greatest pharmacopoeias and one of the most celebrated herbals in history, Dispensatorium (1546).[11] As early as the 16th century, the Italian Ulisse Aldrovandi was scientifically researching plants. In 1665, using an early microscope, Robert Hooke discovered cells in cork, and a short time later in living plant tissue. The Germans Jacob Theodor Klein and Leonhart Fuchs, the Swiss Conrad von Gesner, and the British author Nicholas Culpeper published herbals that gave information on the medicinal uses of plants.
During the 18th century systems of classification became deliberately artificial and served only for the purpose of identification. These classifications are comparable to diagnostic keys, where taxa are artificially grouped in pairs by few, easily recognisable characters. The sequence of the taxa in keys is often totally unrelated to their natural or phyletic groupings. In the 18th century an increasing number of new plants had arrived in Europe, from newly discovered countries and the European colonies worldwide, and a larger amount of plants became available for study.
In 1754 Carl von Linné (Carl Linnaeus) divided the plant Kingdom into 25 classes. One, the Cryptogamia, included all the plants with concealed reproductive parts (algae, fungi, mosses and liverworts and ferns).[12]
The increased knowledge on anatomy, morphology and life cycles, lead to the realization that there were more natural affinities between plants, than the sexual system of Linnaeus indicated. Adanson (1763), Jussieu (1789), and Candolle (1819) all proposed various alternative natural systems that were widely followed. The ideas of natural selection as a mechanism for evolution required adaptations to the Candollean system, which started the studies on evolutionary relationships and phylogenetic classifications of plants.

Modern botany

A considerable amount of new knowledge today is being generated from studying model plants like Arabidopsis thaliana. This weedy species in the mustard family was one of the first plants to have its genome sequenced. The sequencing of the rice (Oryza sativa) genome, its relatively small genome, and a large international research community have made rice an important cereal/grass/monocot model.[13] Another grass species, Brachypodium distachyon is also emerging as an experimental model for understanding the genetic, cellular and molecular biology of temperate grasses. Other commercially-important staple foods like wheat, maize, barley, rye, pearl millet and soybean are also having their genomes sequenced. .Some of these are challenging to sequence because they have more than two haploid (n) sets of chromosomes, a condition known as polyploidy, common in the plant kingdom.^ They knew how to make some pharmaceutical preparations with the plants and the discovery of their properties, reveals a systematizing and observation, taking charge of her the piaches or doctor-priests who conserve and they transmit these knowledge.
  • The Venezuela Eco Portal  to Eco-Tourism & Ecology 10 February 2010 12:34 UTC [Source type: Academic]

^ Catalogue of the more common plants, their habitats, and dates of flowering.

^ His son, Emilio H. Pittier gathered, in 1952, more than 200 plants in the Federal District.
  • The Venezuela Eco Portal  to Eco-Tourism & Ecology 10 February 2010 12:34 UTC [Source type: Academic]

Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (a single-celled, green alga) is another plant model organism that has been extensively studied and provided important insights into cell biology.
In 1998 the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group published a phylogeny of flowering plants based on an analysis of DNA sequences from most families of flowering plants. As a result of this work, major questions such as which families represent the earliest branches in the genealogy of angiosperms are now understood. Investigating how plant species are related to each other allows botanists to better understand the process of evolution in plants.

Subdisciplines of botany

Notable botanists

  • Ibn al-Baitar (d. 1248), Andalusian-Arab scientist, botanist, pharmacist, physician, and author of one of the largest botanical encyclopedias.
  • Abu al-Abbas al-Nabati (c. 1200), Andalusian-Arab botanist and agricultural scientist, and a pioneer in experimental botany.
  • Aimé Bonpland (1773–1858), French explorer and botanist, who accompanied Alexander von Humboldt during five years of travel in Latin America.
  • Luther Burbank (1849–1926), American botanist, horticulturist, and a pioneer in agricultural science.
  • Augustin Pyramus de Candolle (1778-1841), He originated the idea of "Nature's war", which influenced Charles Darwin.
  • Abū Ḥanīfa Dīnawarī (828-896), Persian botanist, historian, geographer, astronomer, mathematician, and founder of Arabic botany.
  • David Douglas (1799–1834), Scottish botanical explorer of North America and China, who imported many ornamental plants into Europe.
  • Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817–1911), English botanist and explorer. Second winner of Darwin Medal.
  • Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40-90 AD), physician, pharmacologist, toxicologist and botanist, author of Περὶ ὕλης ἰατρικής (Latin: De Materia Medica, English: "Regarding Medical Matters")
  • Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895), English biologist, known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Third winner of Darwin Medal.
  • Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of Binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology.
  • Gregor Johann Mendel (1822–1884), Augustinian priest and scientist, and is often called the father of genetics for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants.
  • Charles Sprague Sargent (1841-1927), American botanist, the first director of the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University.
  • Carlos Muñoz Pizarro (1913–1976), Chilean botanist, known for his studies of the Chilean flora, and its conservation.
  • Richard Spruce (1817–1893), English botanist and explorer who carried out a detailed study of the Amazon flora.
  • Agustín Stahl (1842–1917), conducted investigations and experiments in the fields of ethnology, and zoology in the Caribbean region.
  • George Ledyard Stebbins, Jr. (1906–2000), widely regarded as one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th century, developed a comprehensive synthesis of plant evolution incorporating genetics.
  • Theophrastus (c. 371 – c. 287 BC), father of botany, established botanical science through his lecture notes, Enquiry into Plants.
  • Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), Italian polymath; a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer.

See also



  1. ^ Chapman, Jasmin, et al.. Science Web. Nelson Thornes. pp. 56. ISBN 0-17-438746-6. 
  2. ^ Mann, J. (1987). Secondary Metabolism, 2nd ed.. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 186–187. ISBN 0-19-855529-6. 
  3. ^ a b Ancient Indian Botany and Taxonomy
  4. ^ Botany - History of botany
  5. ^ Timeline: Pedanius Dioscorides, c. 40–90 CE
  6. ^ Botany online: The History of a Science
  7. ^ Fahd, Toufic. "Botany and agriculture". pp. 815. , in Morelon, Régis; Rashed, Roshdi (1996), Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, 3, Routledge, ISBN 0415124107 
  8. ^ Huff, Toby (2003). The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China, and the West. Cambridge University Press. p. 218. ISBN 0521529948. 
  9. ^ Boulanger, Diane (2002) "The Islamic Contribution to Science, Mathematics and Technology", OISE Papers, in STSE Education, Vol. 3.
  10. ^ Early herbals – The German fathers of botany
  11. ^ Valerius Cordus | Science and Its Times: 1450-1699 Summary
  12. ^ Hoek, C. van den, Mann, D.G. and Jahns, H.M. 2005. Algae: An Introduction to Phycology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 0 521 30419 9
  13. ^ Devos, Katrien M.; Gale, MD (2000). "Genome Relationships: The Grass Model in Current Research" (free full text). The Plant Cell 12 (5): 637. doi:10.2307/3870991. PMID 10810140. PMC 139917. 


Popular science

  • Attenborough, David, The Private Life of Plants, ISBN 0-563-37023-8
  • Bellamy, David, Bellamy on Botany, ISBN 0-563-10666-2 - An accessible and short introduction to various botanical subjects
  • Capon, B., Botany for Gardeners, ISBN 0-88192-655-8
  • Cohen, J., How many people can the earth support?, London: W. W. Norton, 1995, ISBN 0-393-31495-2
  • Halle, Francis, In Praise of Plants, ISBN 0-88192-550-0 - English translation of a poetic advocacy of plants
  • King, J., Reaching for the sun: How plants work, ISBN 0-521-58738-7 - A fluent introduction to how plants work
  • Pakenham, Thomas (2002), Remarkable Trees of the World, ISBN 0-297-84300-1
  • Pakenham, Thomas (1996), Meetings with Remarkable Trees, ISBN 0-297-83255-7
  • Pollan, M., The Botany of Desire: a plant's-eye view of the world, London: Bloomsbury, ISBN 0-7475-6300-4 - Account of the co-evolution of plants and humans
  • Thomas, B. A. (1981), The evolution of plants and flowers, New York: St Martin's Press, ISBN 0-312-27271-5
  • Walker, D., Energy, Plants and Man, ISBN 1-870232-05-4 - A presentation of the basic concepts of photosynthesis

Academic and scientific

  • Crawford, R. M. M. (1989). Studies in Plant Survival. Oxford: Blackwell ISBN 0-632-01475-X
  • Matthews, R. E. F. Fundamentals of plant virology Academic Press,1992.
  • Mauseth, J. D.: Botany : an introduction to plant biology. Jones and Bartlett Publishers, ISBN 0-7637-2134-4, A first year undergraduate level textbook
  • Morton, A. G. (1981). History of Botanical Science.Academic Press, London. ISBN 0-12-508380-7 (hardback) ISBN 0-12-508382-3 (paperback)
  • Raven, Peter H., Evert, Ray H. and Eichhorn, Susan E. (2005) Biology of Plants; 7th ed. New York: W. H. Freeman ISBN 1-57259-041-6 (A first year undergraduate level textbook; 1st ed. by Peter H. Raven; Helena Curtis. [New York]: Worth, 1970; 6th ed. 1999)
  • Ridge, I. (2002) Plants Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-925548-2
  • Strange, R. L. (2003) Introduction to plant pathology. Weinheim: Wiley-VCH ISBN 0-470-84973-8
  • Walter, H. (1985) Vegetation of the earth; 3rd rev. ed. Springer.
  • Willis, K. (2002) The Evolution of Plants. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-850065-3 £22-99
Environmental botany
  • Crawley, M. J. (1997). Plant ecology. Blackwell Scientific ISBN 0-632-03639-7
  • Ennos, Roland and Sheffield, Elizabeth Plant Life. Oxford: Blackwell Science ISBN 0-86542-737-2 Introduction to plant biodiversity
  • Everitt, J. H.; Lonard, R. L., Little, C. R. (2007). Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 0896726142.  ISBN 0-89672-614-2
  • Richards, P. W. (1996). The Tropical Rainforest. 2nd ed. Cambridge U. P. (Pbk) ISBN 0-521-42194-2 £32.50
  • Stace, C. A. (1997) A New Flora of the British Isles. 2nd ed. Cambridge U. P. ISBN 0-521-58935-5
Plant physiology
  • Bowsher, C. G., Steer, M. W. & Tobin, A. K. (2008) Plant Biochemistry. New York & Abingdon: Garland Science, Taylor & Francis Group ISBN 0-8153-4121-0
  • Buchanan, B. B., Gruissem, W. & Jones, R. L. (2000) Biochemistry & Molecular Biology of Plants. American Society of Plant Physiologists ISBN 0-943088-39-9
  • Fitter, A. & Hay, R. Environmental Physiology of Plants; 3rd edition. New York: Harcourt Publishers, Academic Press ISBN 0-12-257766-3
  • Lambers, Hans, Chapin, F. Stuart, III and Pons, Thijs L. (1998) Plant Physiological Ecology. New York: Springer-Verlag ISBN 0-387-98326-0
  • Lawlor, D. W. (2000) Photosynthesis BIOS ISBN 1-85996-157-6
  • Salisbury, F. B. and Ross, C. W. (1992) Plant Physiology; 4th ed. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth ISBN 0-534-15162-0
  • Taiz, Lincoln & Zeiger, Eduardo (1991) Plant Physiology. Redwood City, Calif.: Benjamin/Cummings
    • 3rd ed. Sunderland, Mass: Sinauer Associates, 2002 ISBN 0-87893-823-0
    • 4th ed. Sunderland, Mass: Sinauer Associates, 2006 ISBN 9780878938568

External links

Flora and other plant catalogs or databases

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to School:Plant sciences article)

From Wikiversity

A merger has been proposed.
It has been suggested that this resource or section be merged with Topic:Botany (Discuss).
Welcome to Plant sciences!
Part of Life Sciences
Flower jtca001.jpg

Note: Material from Wikibooks was imported to Portal:Plant Sciences. Please coordinate that page with this page.
.Plant Sciences covers a wide range of scientific disciplines that study the structure, growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, diseases, ecology, and evolution of plants.^ The Biology Place, a web learning environment that includes learning activities, study and testing aids, and a wide range of content to help you succeed in your course.

^ Click to read about Lepidium as a model for studying the evolution of fruit development in Brassicaceae.
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^ The BSA's effectiveness in world science today depends on the combined support of all plant biological disciplines.

The School of Plant Sciences works closely with the Wikiversity School of Agriculture.


Active participants

Are you knowledgable in this topic? .Would you like to create instruction material and help out with people studying this topic?^ The Biology Place, a web learning environment that includes learning activities, study and testing aids, and a wide range of content to help you succeed in your course.

^ Would you like to share information about Colorado native plants?
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^ Cojedes), where they carry out studies of gramineous and you plant forrajeras; she/he has laboratory of floors and a regional herbarium of the plain, library and it publishes their magazine Memory.
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Sign up to become an advisor — all it takes is adding your username to this list!
  • SB_Johnny | talk: Happy to help, my background is in horticulture and agriculture.
  • alettaka | talk: I have studied plant breeding and molecular plant virology, and am willing to help.
  • sonicbiology | talk: I am interested in plantlore, especially the medicinal uses of plants.^ Native Plants used as Medicine in Hawaii.
    • The Noni Website - Bibliography 10 February 2010 12:34 UTC [Source type: Academic]

    ^ The Geographic Origin of the Plants Most Commonly Used for Medicine by Hawaiians, Journal of Ethnopharmacology 14: 213-222.
    • The Noni Website - Bibliography 10 February 2010 12:34 UTC [Source type: Academic]

    ^ Antitumor studies of a traditional Hawaiian medicinal plant, Morinda citrifolia (noni), in vitro and in vivo.
    • The Noni Website - Bibliography 10 February 2010 12:34 UTC [Source type: Academic]

    .My knowledge base includes a few medicinal plants of Guatemala and the US, a few food plants of the US, and a little botany, as well as a summer of experience on a natural farm.
  • Charley Quinton | talk: I am bioneer working on urban planning initiatives geared toward sustainability and ecoscience.^ A search has been initiated to find and preserve native plants in the Steppes that might be used to sustain and restore arid grasslands in other parts of the world.
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    ^ The BONAP database now includes data for all vascular plants and vertebrate species (native, naturalized, and adventive) of North America, north of Mexico.
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    ^ Colorado Open Lands is a non-profit land trust dedicated to protecting working farms and ranches and the diminishing natural heritage of Colorado.
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    .I am particularly interested in urban agriculture, aquaculture, plant and soil science, biophysics, urban microtransport systems – thus a new eco-logistical model for developing and re-develping both urban and rural economies.
  • -User:Wikicollege creator DS07 this is really Pika64eBay!^ The Center for Native Eco-Systems , based in Denver, works to protect and recover all of the native plants and critters, and their homes, in the Greater Southern Rockies ecosystem.
    • botanical_news.html 15 September 2009 4:39 UTC [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

    ^ Plant Genome Research This new program is part of a national plant genome research initiative established by the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

    ^ New genetic model predicts plant flowering in different environments.
    • botanical_news.html 15 September 2009 4:39 UTC [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

    This is just a pseudenoym!
  • User:Pika64eBay Hey yo! I'm back! .I am intrested very much canrivorous plants (examples: Venus's Fly Trap, Sundew)
  • Trinity507 - my field of interest/some knowledge is ethnobotany, but I'd like to learn more about plants in general.^ Botanists-in-training learn plant identification, collection, and documentation skills throughout the year in field and classroom settings from regional experts.
    • botanical_news.html 15 September 2009 4:39 UTC [Source type: FILTERED WITH BAYES]

    ^ To learn more about Mendel and his experiments, follow this link to MendelWeb .

    ^ Thermotolerance in Plant Some Like It Hot Thomas D. Sharkey Science Jan 21 2000: 435-437.

    I also do a lot of "practical horticulture", a.k.a. gardening. :-) I founded the ethnobotany department in the School of Ethnology. It's an interdisciplinary subject so I'll link a lot of the resources here.

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From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Study Guide to the Science of Botany
A Free Online Textbook
Introduction to the Guide
How to use this Guide
A special note ~ How to contribute

Detailed contents list

Section I – Plant Biology
Chapter 1 ~ An Introduction to Botany Development stage: 100% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
  • Botany as a Science
  • Living Systems
  • Plants and their Uses
  • Introduction to Classification
Chapter 2 ~ Plant cells Development stage: 100% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
  • Plant Cell Structure
  • Basic Cell Function
  • Plant Cell Specializations
Chapter 3 ~ Plant tissues Development stage: 25% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
  • Meristems
Chapter 4 ~ Plant organs Development stage: 75% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
  • The Leaf
  • The Stem
  • The Root
Chapter 5   ~ Plant reproduction Development stage: 75% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
  • Vegetative Reproduction
  • The Flower
  • The Seed and germination
  • The Fruit
Chapter 6   ~ Plant Morphology Development stage: 25% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
Botany Study Guide ~ Wiki Contents Table
Section I
Winter landscape in rural western Europe
Plants tend to dominate both natural and rural landscapes
in all but the most rigorous of environments

Section II – Plant Systematics
Chapter 7   ~ Plant Systematics Development stage: 25% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
Chapter 8 ~ Microbiology Development stage: 75% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
Chapter 9   ~ Phycology (The Algae) Development stage: 25% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
Chapter 10   ~ Mycology (The Fungi) Development stage: 25% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
Chapter 11   ~ Bryology (The Liverworts & Mosses) Development stage: 25% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
Chapter 12   ~ Division Pterophyta (The Ferns) Development stage: 25% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
Chapter 13   ~ Division Equisetophyta (The Club Mosses and Horsetails) Development stage: 50% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
Chapter 14   ~ Division Pinophyta (conifers) Development stage: 75% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
Chapter 15   ~ Division Magnoliophyta (I) (flowering plants) Development stage: 25% (as of Jan 11, 2005)
  • Magnoliopsida (dicots)
Chapter 16   ~ Division Magnoliophyta (II) (flowering plants) Development stage: 25% (as of June 15, 2005)
  • Liliopsida (monocots)
  • Grasses
Section III - Plant Ecology

See also

Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


Early Classification.

The science that treats of plants. Like grammar and other sciences based on logical thought, scientific botany originated with the Greeks, and from them found its way to the Jews. Agriculture, gardening, and popular medicine naturally led to a knowledge of the plant world and of the most remarkable phenomena of plant life; and the natural impulse toward nomenclature led to naive classifications of the plant world. Biblical language is not poor in designations for plants ( (missing hebrew text) , (missing hebrew text) ) and their various parts. .In illustration may be mentioned the different expressions, (missing hebrew text) , for "root"; (missing hebrew text) , (missing hebrew text) , for "stem," "slip," "stalk," "shoot," and "twigs"; as well as (missing hebrew text) , for "leaves" and "foliage"; (missing hebrew text) , for "bud," "blossom," and "blossom-stalk"; (missing hebrew text) , (missing hebrew text) , for "fruit," "fruit-stalk," and "seed"; many of which designations were in reality only used by the farmer and gardener as technical terms.^ Illustrations of the buds and fruits of the genus with a list of authentic specimens from which the drawings were made.

.The Biblical classification of plants—with which life on earth begins (Delitzsch on Gen 1:11)—is contained in the passage which tells of their creation: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass [ (missing hebrew text) ], the herb yielding seed [ (missing hebrew text) ], and the fruit-tree [ (missing hebrew text) ] yielding fruit .^ Book for boys & girls beginning the study of plant life.

. . whose seed is in itself upon the earth: and it was so" (Gen 1:11). The term (missing hebrew text) is explained as embracing, besides the grasses, the cryptogamous plants, in contrast to (missing hebrew text) ; although the Bible never mentions the cryptogamia elsewhere (Keil on Gen. l.c.). But this is a forced use of the word somewhat similar to the limitation of fruit-bearing trees to fruit-trees by Jewish exegetes, according to whom the forest-trees, with "thorns and thistles," were created only after the fall of man and the cursing of the earth. They also claim, according to Gen. R. v. 9, that the earth had previously brought forth only fruits and wood bereft of any fruit-taste, in place of fruit-like wood (in Mishnaic diction (missing hebrew text) had come to mean "wood"; (missing hebrew text) was the word for "tree"). Herewith ended the classification of plants. Language had designated certain groups, like grain-plants ( (missing hebrew text) ); and only when the study of the Law was taken up in post-Biblical times did it become necessary to establish some uniformity regarding correlated groups, although the method of classification was not a particularly happy one. Herein also Maimonides acted as a systematizer (L. Löw, "Graphische Requisiten," i. 93), deducing the following division from Talmudical writings ("Yad," Kil. i. 8, 9): "Plants are classified as: (1) (missing hebrew text) ('trees'); (2) (missing hebrew text) ('vegetables'). The former consist of: (missing hebrew text) ('fruit-trees') and (missing hebrew text) ('barren trees'). To vegetables belong: (a) (missing hebrew text) ('grain'), comprising the five familiar species; (b) (missing hebrew text) ('small grain') and all seeds that are eaten, with the exception of large grain, as, for instance, the leguminous plants, beans, peas, lentils, rice, sesame, poppy [Maimonides, (missing hebrew text) ]; (c) (missing hebrew text) ('garden-plants') (Kil. ii. 2; Tosef. i. 74), the seeds of which are not edible, but which bear edible fruits; for example, the onion, garlic, leek, nutmeg, turnip, etc.; flax also belongs to this group. Some of these garden-seeds are grown in fields on a large scale, and are then called (missing hebrew text) ('seed species'), as, for example, flax and mustard; others, grown only in small beds, as turnips, radishes, beets, onions, coriander, celery, lettuce, are called (missing hebrew text) ('herbs')."

Later Classifications.

Maimonides' classification is repeated later on by others; for example, in "Kaftor wa-Feraḥ," ed. Berlin, lvi. 119b; Caleb Afendopolo, in "Adderet Eliyahu," Appendix, 14a. Afendopolo adds to the above, "fruits of the ground," as cucumbers, watermelons, the castor-oil plant, and those medicinal plants which are not used for foods.
For purposes of the ritual blessing there is but one classification; namely, fruit of the tree and fruit of the soil, in addition to which mushrooms and truffles form a group by themselves, as, according to Jewish belief, they are nourished by the air (Maimonides, "Yad," Ber. viii. and the ritual codices). As a curiosity of more modern times, the fact may be mentioned that Azulai speaks of fifty-five kinds of "fruits of the soil," for which reason, he says, the Hebrew benediction reads: (missing hebrew text) ("of the earth"), the numerical value of the letters in this word being 55! ("Birke Yosef, Shiyyure Berakah, Oraḥ Ḥayyim," 203.) This classification was not easily arrived at, as is shown by Ber. 6, as in Tosef., Ber. vi. 8, 27, (missing hebrew text) , and (missing hebrew text) ("grains," "grasses," and "herbs") are distinguished (Israel Lewy, "Fragmente der Mischna des Abba Sanl," p. 10). For the classification (missing hebrew text) , see Sifra 87b and parallels, and compare Rev 8:7, ix. 4, where χόρτος = (missing hebrew text) , χλωρός = (missing hebrew text) , and δένδρον = (missing hebrew text) .
From the standpoint of the value of the soil's products, those used for maintaining life (for example, wine, oil, flour, fruit) are distinguished from others less important, as caraway-seeds and spices ('Ab. Zarah iv. 465, 25 et seq.; "Sheiltot," No. 32). Israel is compared with wheat, and not with nutmeg or pepper; for the world could well exist without the latter, but could not do so without the former (Pesiḳ. R. 10 [ed. Friedmann, p. 35a] and parallel passages). Separate categories are formed of the seven plants characteristic of Palestine (see Palestine) and of those used for incense, medicine, and dyestuffs ( (missing hebrew text) ).
Besides the plants of Palestine and Egypt the Bible only mentions spices and condiments, coming from southern Asia and its groups of islands. These found their way, partly by land, partly by sea, to the peoples of foreign countries, and were used especially in their sacrificial offerings (Gildemeister and Hoffmann, "Die Aetherischen Oele," pp. 4 et seq., Berlin, 1899).

Post-Biblical Period.

The entire plant world is called in the Mishnah (missing hebrew text) (Sifre, Num. 84 [ed. Friedmann, p. 23a];Deut. 11 [ed. Friedmann, p. 67b]); Targum, (missing hebrew text) (missing hebrew text) (Kil. ii. 5); the young nursery or vineyard is (missing hebrew text) (Sheb. i. 8; Tosef. i. 61); (missing hebrew text) is "to plant" (Tosef., Bek. vi. 541; Tosef., B. B. vii. 408; Yer. Meg. i. 70b.); (missing hebrew text) is "to fell plantations" (Ned. iii. 5; Tosef. ii. 277; B. K. viii. 6; Tosef. iii. 349; Tosef., Sanh. iv. 423; in an applied sense Tosef., Ḥag. ii. 234). The term (missing hebrew text) is opposed to (missing hebrew text) in Mek., Beshallaḥ, 10 (ed. Friedmann, p. 43b); opposed to (missing hebrew text) in Tosef., Sheb. i. 61; (missing hebrew text) is "grapes" (Tosef., Shab. viii. 121; Gen. R. xxxi. 14); but in the Targum (missing hebrew text) is used also for "plant."
For the different parts of the plant the language of the Mishnah is so rich in synonyms as to make it impossible to reproduce them here. Some of the designations are for particular products, as (missing hebrew text) for "branch of a fig-tree"; (missing hebrew text) for "branch of the olive and sycamore"; (missing hebrew text) for "branch of a vine" (Gen. R. xxxi. 14). All the different parts of the plant are enumerated by the Zohar, which proceeds to mention the seven parts—root, bark, pith, twig, leaf, blossom, and fruit—in order to draw parallels to the seven different ways of interpreting the Bible (iii. 202a).
The rich flora and the fertility of Palestine (see Palestine, Flora of) are lauded as highly by the Talmud and the Bible as in secular literature. "The vegetation of Palestine was always a very rich one; its fruits were the finest and most easily cultivated. But on two occasions its productivity reached the highest pitch: at the time when our fathers took possession of the country, and at the time of their going into exile" (Sifre, Deut. 37 [ed. Friedmann, p. 76b]; 316, 317 [ed. Friedmann, p. 135b]; Pesiḳ. R. 132a; Yalḳ., Yer. 328). Still greater shall be its fertility at the time of the Messiah: "On the day of sowing, the fruit will ripen as at Creation, yea, even the wood of the fruit-trees will become edible." Wonderful was also the harvest at the time of Queen Salome: the wheat-kernels grew to the size of kidneys; barley was as large as olives; peas were as large as golden dinars; and, accordingly, samples of them all were preserved for later generations, to show what would be the deteriorating consequences of sin! (Sifra, Beḥuḳḳotai, ed. Weiss, p. 110d, and parallel passages). "Unseemly, yea, even insolent, it is of the land which has been manured and cultivated by its owners, not to deny its harvest to the conquerors after the destruction of Jerusalem" (Yer. Ta'an. iv. 69b; Lam. R., Introduction, end).
The total number of plant-names found in the Bible (100) does not correspond with the excessively rich vegetation of Palestine. But this will not be a matter for surprise, considering that the legislative part of the Bible is, on account of the food restrictions contained therein, very copious in names of animals, and that there is little occasion to consider plants in such connection, these being only occasionally mentioned in poetical and prophetical writings. The literature of the Mishnah enriches the Biblical list of plant-names to the extent of about 180 good Hebrew words; so that it may be inferred that a very large proportion of the Hebrew botanical vocabulary has been preserved.


Halakic writers often had occasion to mention plants. The establishment of the ritual blessings for the various kinds of vegetable food and for the first-fruits of the season ( (missing hebrew text) ); agrarian legislation on the rights of the poor to participate in the harvest; the rules for tithes, for the priest's portion, and for the "ḥallah" (offering of dough); the regulations concerning the mixture of heterogeneous plants; the rules for the Sabbatical year; the law forbidding the fruit during the first three years of the tree's growth; the establishment of the particular kinds of grain to be used for the making of unleavened bread; the salads to be used with the Passover roast; the components of the festal garland for Tabernacles; the covering of the Tabernacle itself; the use of botanical words in vows; the proper material on which to write letters of divorce; sacrifices from the plant world; the ingredients for incense; the kinds of hyssop to be used in the sacrifice of the Red Heifer; the laws of Levitical impurity in relation to plants—all these are far from exhaustive of the occasions where plants are concerned. Custom and usage demanded certain vegetable foods on certain days, and created new relations to the plant world, as life constantly raised new halakic botanical questions, of which rabbinical literature treats. The throwing of burs on the fast-day of the Ninth of Ab; the custom of plucking up grass after a funeral, believed to be a symbol of the resurrection ("Shibbole ha-Leḳeṭ," p. 373a; Responsa of MaBIT, i. 250; Lewysohn, "Meḳore Minhagim," p. 134); lotion-plants from which a kind of milk runs (Responsa of RaSHA, No. 248); the chewing of mastic on Passover (RaDBaZ, ed. Fürth, No. 582); beans which may be washed with soap (Responsa of YaBeẒ, No. 156); oats for stuffing geese ("Ẓemaḥ Ẓedeḳ," p. 17); the feeding of silkworms with mulberry-leaves on Sabbath ("Yakin u-Boaz," ii. 18; "Bet Yosef" and Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 324, 12, and other sources), are only a few topics taken at random from the later casuistic literature, in which reference to new plant products, such as sugar-cane, lemons, coffee, tea, chocolate, Indian meal, eggplant, potatoes, tobacco, camphor, and spices, may be traced.

Foreign Plant-Names.

Europe received most of its cultivated plants from the Orient. Some plant-names, like that of the balsam, it returned to the East later; but the Orient also owes many new terms to the Greeks and Romans. .The preponderating culture of the former, and the commerce and luxury of Roman life, led the Jews to adopt the names of many plants long before they were known in Palestine.^ CENSUS Of The Plants Of Victoria-A. With their Regional Distribution and the Vernacular Names as adopted by the Plant Names Committee of the Field Naturalists' Club Of Victoria.

Through the Greeks podded "grains" (pulse) came to the East; the words ϑέρμος, λόβια, φάση;λος, piίσον became familiar to the Jews and other Semites, while many fine sorts of fruit were known by the names which the Roman consumer gave them, as, for example, "plums of Damascus" (Δαμασκηνὰ), two sorts of dates (νικόλαος, καρυωτός), a celebrated brand of figs, called φιβάλεως, the fine eating olive (κολυμβάς), etc. The names of the peach (περσικά), the quince (μελΊμηλα), the kind of pear known as Crustuminum pirum, the cembra-nut (στρόβιλος), and the fruit of the Cordia myxa (Linnæus) indicate the influence ofthe Greeks on the fruit-trees and fruit-markets of Palestine. The cabbage, kale, and mustard (λαψάνη) came from Europe; the turnip, carrot (γογγυλίδια), parsnip, leek (κεφαλωτόν), parsley, artichoke, and sugar-melon are known by Greek designations. The ash (μελία), of which three kinds are now found in Palestine, bears a Greek name; even for the indigenous cedar the word κέδρος maintains itself; while the wood of the native box-tree is also designated by the Greek word εύξινον.
Passages indicating where various plants were especially cultivated abound in the Mishnaic and Talmudic literature; but these belong rather to a description of the agriculture of Palestine than to botany. R. Simon b. Gamaliel, however, shows an accurate knowledge of the special habitats of plants when he says: "Of mountains, the ash is characteristic; of ravines ["ghor"], the date-palms; of water-courses ["wadis"], the reeds; and of lowlands ["she-felah"], the sycamore" (see Tosef., Sheb. vii.; Yer. ix. 38d; Pes. 13a; Bacher, "Ag. Tan." ii. 327; and "Kaftor wa-Peraḥ," p. 107a; Vogelstein, "Landwirt-schaft in Palästina," i. 7; Kaplan, "Ereẓ Ḳedumim," p. 34).

Ritual Mention of Plants.

In other passages also R. Simon b. Gamaliel shows an interest in botanical questions (Frankel, "Darke ha-Mishnah," p. 184); and the interpretation of the Biblical (missing hebrew text) as the resin of the balsam-dropping trees ("kaṭof") is said to have originated with him. He determines the length of time between the leafing of the fig-tree and the ripening of its fruit (Tosef., Sheb. xiv. 67; Yer. ib. 35d); describes minutely a certain kind of onion (Tosef., Ma'as. R. iii. 85; Yer. ib. 52a); declares that rice is not grain (Tosef., Ḥal. ii. 98); allows only the fruit of the palms of Jericho to be offered in the Temple as first-fruits (Tosef., Bik. i. 100); and maintains that there is nothing square in nature, in opposition to which statement it is pointed out that mint, like all labiate flowers, has a four-edged stem (Löw, "Aramäische Pflanzennamen," p. 260). He mentions also (Tosef., Ṭebul Yom, i. 684) a peculiar kind of bean (nigella), the leek, and senna ( (missing hebrew text) ?).
R. Johanan ben Nuri, a contemporary of R. Akiba, mentions an otherwise unknown inferior and probably only wild grain, the (missing hebrew text) ; and the " ḳurram" or "ḳurreim," still found in Palestine, makes it probable that this was the Hordeum bulbosum (Linnæus) (Post, "Flora of Syria," etc., p. 902: "found in grassy places"). According to Johanan, this (missing hebrew text) makes a dough which is subject to the law of Ḥallah, and may be leavened; but with this view other teachers disagree, each claiming that his opinion is founded on experience (Tosef., Ḥal. i. 97; Yer. ib. i. 57a; Tosef., Pes. i. 157; ib. Yer. 29a). Rice, too, he tried, though unsuccessfully, to classify as a grain; and this difference of opinion leads to the inference that Indian rice—which was unknown to the Bible, and appeared only after Alexander the Great—was not naturalized in Palestine much before his time (Pes. 35a, 114b; Ber. 37a; see also Rice). Saffron-seed cakes ( (missing hebrew text) ), usually taken as delicacies before the meal, Johanan would not class as food; consequently they were not to be bought with money from the second tithe, which was reserved for food. His opposition to Akiba extended to still other kinds of spices (Tosef., Ma'as. Sh. i. 87).

Artistic Appreciation.

Nor was the appreciation of the beauty of nature entirely lacking in the time of the Mishnah teachers; for the latter, although engrossed in study, and probably immersed in the explanation of details of sacrificial rites, were so astounded at the wonders of nature—as, for instance, trees, in all their majesty—that they would exclaim: "How magnificent this tree is!" Such direct appreciation of nature had probably become so foreign to that period and its manner of feeling that it was condemned as an interruption of the study of the Law (Ab. iii. 7).
On the other hand, on reviewing the splendors of creation, the Jew is to praise not creation but the Creator; at sight of beautiful human beings or trees he is to extol God, who permits these creatures to exist in the world (Tosef., Ber. vii. 15; Talmud Bab. ib. 58b), and who created them (Yer. ix. 13b).
By R. Judah b. Ezekiel of Pumbedita this thought was condensed into the command: "He who walks abroad in Nisan and sees the blossoming trees shall repeat the blessing: 'Praised be He who allows nothing to be wanting in His world: who created beautiful beings and trees, to delight men'" (Ber. 43b and parallels; Ṭur and Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 226). Closer casuistic details are given by Azulai, who, with a perfect absence of all feeling for nature, adds that this blessing should be pronounced with especially impressive reverence for the benefit of those souls which may be wandering through trees and plants, and that God's mercy should be begged for them ("Moreh be-Eẓba'," Nos. 198, 199; Palaggi, "Mo'ed le-Ḳol Ḥai," i. 6-9).
The same command is extended to flowers ("Leḳaḥ Ṭob," in "Paḥad Yiẓḥaḳ," 1, 58a). Instead of choosing the early blooming almond-tree as the occasion for saying this blessing, one is commanded to wait until other trees are in bloom. The question as to whether this blessing may be pronounced as early as Adar and as late as Iyyar is the subject of casuistic debate (Alkalai, "Zekor le-Abraham," Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 21a; Responsa of Joel Ẓebi Roth Huszt, "Bet ha-Yoẓer" on Oraḥ Ḥayyim, No. 13).
The miserable condition of the roads of the Holy Land, when pilgrims discontinued their annual journey to Jerusalem, was shown in the briers that overgrew the paths (Lam. R., Introduction, 26; [ed. Buber, p. 30]; Yalḳ., Isa. 302; "Leḳaḥ Ṭob" on Lam 1:4); and it was a pathetic sight to behold weeds growing in forsaken synagogues (Tosef., Meg. iii. 225; Talmud Yer. and Bab. l.c.).


The Biblical idea that just as man extols God for the wonder of His creation, so, too, creation itself praises its Maker, is not lost even in later times. Thus the month of Shebaṭ is said to boast that during its duration "the trees grow higher, open their mouths, and with their leaves praise the living God" (Targ. Yer. Ex 12:31). This same poetical thought is reflected also in the "Pereḳ Shirah," where it is applied to the individual phenomena and parts of the creation: "The trees rejoice over Israel'sredemption" (Isa 44:23), applied haggadically in Mek., Beshallaḥ, ed. Friedmann, p. 40b. King Og was rude enough to designate Abraham and Sarah as beautiful trees growing by the waterside but bearing no fruit; therefore he was punished by being conquered by the great nation descended from them (Targ. Yer. on Num 21:34). By fruits are meant the Patriarchs; by blossoms, the tribes of Israel (Lam. R., Introduction, 2 [ed. Buber, p. 3]). David, like Moses, a faithful shepherd, reserved the young and tender pasture for the lambs of his flock; the older growth was given to the older sheep, the roots to the fully grown animals, thereby showing his fitness to be a shepherd of Israel (Midr. Teh. on lxxviii. 21 [ed. Buber, p. 357]). God and the Torah are compared to plants; thus the Torah is likened to the fig, the vine, flax, and wheat, while Israel (Ex. R. xxxvi. 1) is compared to all the nobler trees (the vine, fig, walnut, myrtle, olive, apple, palm, willow, and cedar).
There was a dispute as to which of the trees thus compared with Israel furnished the wood for Haman's gallows (Abba Gorion and "Leḳaḥ Ṭob," on Esth. vii. 10 [ed. Buber, pp. 41, 48]). Just as the entire Song of Solomon is symbolical of God and Israel, so, too, are the individual plants mentioned in it, such as meadow-saffrons and lilies. Israel and the peoples of Canaan suggest a vineyard wherein both cedars and briers grow: the former are uprooted, while the latter remain to protect the vineyard (Yalḳ., Jdg 41:8a).
The significance attributed in Ber. 56-57 to various plants (citron, fig, barley, pomegranate, pumpkin, olive, palm, date, reeds, and vines) in interpreting dreams is made to rest on Biblical verses or on a play upon words. Solomon Almoli's collection in his dream-book, "Pitron Ḥalomot," rests partly on Talmudic passages, partly on foreign folk-lore and his own imagination. Thus to dream of spinach is said to signify happiness, riches, and honor; of ginger, honor and renown (see Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." No. 6896, 3).

Figurative Uses of Plant-Names.

In a figurative sense the names of certain plants, or, more specifically, fruit-trees, are used to designate similar objects ( (missing hebrew text) ); see Löw, l.c. p. 375; Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 319, 395; Gen. R. xxviii. 3; "Monatsschrift," xxxviii. 25; Tan., Ḥayye Sarah, ed. Buber, pp. 7, 51.
Metaphors and comparisons from the plant world appear in Talmudic literature continually, and many pass into the most diverse languages and literatures. In man—as the microcosm—the hair is said to represent the woods, while the bones correspond to the trees (Ab. R. N. xxxi., (missing hebrew text) = both "hair" and "foliage"; see also Peah ii. 3; Theocritus, "Idyls," i. 131). According to Naḥmanides ("Terumah," 71b), "the holy language always compares all forms with man. That which is at the top is called the head; that below, the feet." Nevertheless, the words "roots," "branches," "stems," and "fruit" are frequently used metaphorically. The human body is likened to the earth; the bones, to the mountains; the hair, to plants (Dieterici, "Die Anthropologie der Araber," 1871, p. 15). "The roots are the soul, the stem is the body," is a Mishnaic saying (Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 434). On the other hand, Arabic philosophy is reflected in Ibn Ezra's dictum on Ps 13 (see "Monatsschrift," xliii. 239), that the most perfectly formed soul is that fruit of the body which is picked at the time of maturity.
The words (missing hebrew text) ("root") and (missing hebrew text) ("branch"), as designating fundamental law and deduced ordinances, are found in Sherira (Neubauer, "Chronique Samaritaine," i. 19), but earlier also in the Mishnaic usage of (missing hebrew text) , meaning the chief matter, as opposed to (missing hebrew text) , that of secondary, nature (Sifre, Num. 89 [ed. Weiss, p. 24b]); (missing hebrew text) opposed to (missing hebrew text) (Yer. Ber. ix. 13c). "Man is an inverted tree, and a tree is an inverted man," said Aristotle ("De Part. An." iv. 10), and after him all writers of the Middle Ages—Jews, Mohammedans, and Christians. Judah Muskato ("Nefuẓot Yehudah," sermon 15) and Samuel Yafe Ashkenazi ("Yefeh Mareh" on Ber. i. 4), both of the sixteenth century, were familiar with this comparison; but so also was Gershom b. Solomon (see below). The simile is worked out in detail in "Aggadat 'Olam Ḳaṭon" (Jellinek, "B. H." v. 58; see also "Monatsschrift," xiii. 227). "At the time of the resurrection the bones will be drawn from the earth; the hair from trees; the power of life from fire, as was the case at the time of the original Creation" ("Bundehesh," in Spiegel," Die Tradit. Literatur der Parsen," p. 116). Joseph ibn Ẓaddiḳ ("'Olam Ḳaṭon," p. 22) and Clément Mullet (Introduction to his translation of Ibn Awwâm, p. 22) also say: "Assyrian agriculture sees in man an inverted tree, while, on the other hand, the tree is an inverted man." Of Mohammedans, Kazwini may be mentioned; of Christians, the following passage: "Physicists say man is an inverted tree" (Migne, "Patrologiæ Cursus Completus," Latin series, p. 185, col. 107; Guerricus Abbas, "Sermo," ii.).


Steinschneider was the first to collect the Hebrew typology of botany (Kobak, "Jeschurun," German ed., viii. 65). To this belong such statements as that mustard-seed grains ( (missing hebrew text) ) represent the smallest of things in contrast to the largest ( (missing hebrew text) , "Zunz Jubelschrift," p. 107), or to ostriches' eggs (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 16, note 107; idem, in "Jeschurun," l.c.), or to the ocean ("Monatsschrift," 1879, p. 354, note). Steinschneider understands sesame-seed as representing something very small. Similar usage to represent "nothing," figuratively, is found in many other languages (Hoefer, "Germania," 1873, xviii. 19). Comparisons of cedars and reeds, and instances of the use of the latter as illustrations of weakness, are also found (see Reed).
Expressions to the effect that the soul is the tree, and wisdom its fruit; that wisdom is the tree, and deeds are its fruit; that intelligence without morality is a tree without fruit (Gabirol), and similar quotations ("Naḥal Ḳedumim," p. 34; see Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 882), all come from the Arabic (concerning the "fruit of wisdom" see Steinschneider, in "Zunz Jubelschrift," p. 1, note, and idem, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 156).
Of the scientific expressions of the Arabic period of civilization mention may be made of (missing hebrew text) for "cone" ("Hebr. Bibl." vii. 90 et seq.), (missing hebrew text) (missing hebrew text) , Judah Tibbon (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 445, note, where also al ṣanubri = (missing hebrew text) = (missing hebrew text) ; see Barzillai, "Yeẓirah," pp. 222, 347).
The haggadic pictures drawn from the plant world are chiefly types taken from the Bible, such as cedar and reeds, cedar and hyssops, etc. (see the articles under these respective captions).

Man Compared to Trees.

The tree as an emblem of human life is a favorite metaphor in the Bible, and is frequently so used in later literature (L. Löw, " Gesammelte Schriften," i. 67). The upright man is compared in the Bible to the palm and to trees in general. The just man is likened to a tree in a clean place with a branch overhanging an unclean spot; the wicked man, to the reverse (Ab. R. N. xxxix. 119). "Plant" ( (missing hebrew text) ) is a Biblical word for the Messiah (Heilprin, "'Erke ha-Kinnuyim," s.v.); salvation is a quickening anew of all that is green (Cant. R. on ii. 2; Targ. Yer. on Isa 6:13); the plant springing from the seed, a picture of resurrection (Num. R. xviii.). The seed is confided to the earth naked; but the latter returns it to man clothed in fruit (Sanh. 90b; Eccl. R. v.; Pirḳe R. El. xxxiii.).
Of fables, the following may be mentioned: "The Trees and the Iron" (Gen. R. v., end; Sachs, "Stimmen vom Jordan und Euphrat," ii. 111), and "Hadrian and the Old Man Planting Trees" (Lev. R. xxv. 5).

Scientific Botany.

The beginnings of scientific botany, preserved in the Jewish literature of the Middle Ages, consist chiefly of echoes of Aristotle, with now and then information derived from Theophrastus; all of them transmitted through Arabic channels, and especially either directly or indirectly from Averroes (concerning Dioscorides, on whom Asaf relies, see Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 239, 650). Any one familiar with the fragments of Aristotelian botany contained in Meyer ("Gesch. der Botanik," i. 94 et seq.) will in exceptional cases only find anything new in Jewish botanical treatises. The questions of the relationship between animals and plants, of the life of the plant, its soul, its own heat, its nourishment and propagation, occupied the thought of the entire Middle Ages, and are answered in an Aristotelian style. True, in general botany the Arabs did not greatly surpass Aristotle; but in speaking of the Arabian and late Greco-Roman literature, Meyer (l.c. iii. 326) rightly says: "The sum of special knowledge concerning plants considerably decreased among the Greeks and Romans, but increased among the Arabians. The Arabs sought in nature itself the plants commended by the ancients, and expended much energy on the criticism of synonyms." In this, Jewish literature made the Arabic its model (see Plants); but the literature of synonymy belongs rather to Jewish pharmacology than to botany. In 1197 Pseudo-Galen's "De Plantis" was translated into Hebrew by an anonymous writer from Orange (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 142, 972). The book of Pseudo-Aristoteles, "De Plantis," demonstrated by Meyer to have been written by Nicolaus Damascenus, was translated into Hebrew (Steinschneider, ib. p. 141).

Early Books on Botany.

In 1314 Kalonymus ben Kalonymus translated a book on plants containing undoubtedly the entire text of Pseudo-Aristoteles and the commentary of Averroes, with probably the supercommentary by Levi b. Gerson (Steinschneider, ib. p. 142; Renan-Neubauer, "Les Ecrivains Juifs Français," p. 83). According to Steinschneider (ib. p. 836), a book on herbs in the Vatican consists of an alphabetical list of remedies. A so-called "Book on Plants" is also mentioned by this scholar (ib. pp. 359, 743). Macer Floridus' book on botany (about 1161) was also translated into Hebrew (ib. p. 809).
The article on botany in the encyclopedia "Sha'ar ha-Shamayim," by Gershom b. Solomon of Arles (Gross, in "Monatsschrift," xxviii. 126; idem, "Gallia Judaica," P. 82; Renan-Neubauer, "Les Rabbins Français," p. 589; Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 9), is probably taken from Averroes' commentary on the Pseudo-Aristotelian book. It treats of the soul of the plant; passes on to consider its nourishment, growth, blossoming, and fructification; and then takes up the influence upon it of the sun's heat, of exposure, and of climate. The hot spices—pepper, calamus, and ginger—grow only under the "second" climate, that is, where it is hot and dry; the sugar-cane under the "fourth," the moderate climate. In France the tropical fruits—figs, olives, and pomegranates—will not grow toward the limits of the "sixth" climate: only the grape endures, for the coldness of this zone can not overcome this plant's natural heat. In England even the grapevine does not survive the "seventh" climate. The herbs, too, are not everywhere the same, each having its particular locality or habitat. Plants are heavy, light, or medium. The lightest and weakest are those of the pulse family, which, therefore, ripen earliest, just as weaker woman matures before stronger man. Barley ripens later, and wheat later still.

Medieval Conceptions.

According to Aristotle, the plant's development keeps pace with the course of the sun, and reaches its highest point when the sun is in Cancer. Averroes distinguishes between perfect and imperfect plants. Some of the imperfect ones are controlled by one or other of the elements; thus, aquatic plants by water, and sponges by the earth. He says also that most plants live longer than animals, for they are more nearly allied to the minerals, and their composition does not contain the great antagonisms found in the animal world. According to gardeners the moon, according to "modern" teachers the stars, exercise a great influence over growing plants. Plants consist of the four elements, but principally of air, as is evident from the small quantity of ashes remaining after they are burned. According to Averroes, however, the earthy constituents outweigh the water in some plants which sink in water, such as ebony. Then follow the division of fruits (based upon the edibility of their interiors or exteriors), a passage on evergreen trees, and one on the colors of plants.

Uses of Plants.

Gershom also contends that plants are green either because standing water assumes that color or because water and black earth combine to form green. Like man, plants, except the upright palm, stand inverted. Therefore, the palm dies if its head, its pinnacle,be cut off. Only palm-trees show a distinction in sex, but there are other fruit-trees that bear no fruit unless other trees of their kind are in their vicinity. .Some botanical notes to be found in Gershom are: a short description of the balsam-tree ("Sha'ar ha-Shamayim," p.^ KESSELL S.L. Key To The Eucalypts Of Western Australia With Descriptive and Botanical Notes concerning all Aborescent Species of Eucalyptus known to be Indigenous to Western Australia.

20b); of the sunflower (solsega); the pumpkin is said to cry out as it grows in the moonlight; the growth of cucumbers should be furthered by blowing the shofar at the time of the setting of the fruit (Duran, "Magen Abot," 36a). Gershom also says that from one tree come cinnamon (the rind), mace (the blossom), and nutmeg (the fruit); cloves also are said to be buds of the same tree.
Only two original botanical remarks are found in Gershom: First, that seedless fruit-trees and grapes may be cultivated, just as "in our city" (Arles) there is a tree called (missing hebrew text) ("sorbier"), the fruit of which has no seeds. Gershom alludes to either a definite tree in Arles or to the so-called beam-tree (Sorbus torminalis). Secondly, he says: "Not far from us there grows a tree the fruit of which is as large as half a bean and as hard when ripe as a stone, so that it can not be softened by cooking. This fruit seems to mark the transition from the plant kingdom to the mineral kingdom, as do corals, mushrooms, and truffles." Mention, of course, is made of the Barnacle-Goose. The work closes with a description of the various savors of plants and of their admixture.

Duran's Botanical Work.

Simon b. Ẓemaḥ Duran (1444) wrote an exhaustive treatise on the relations between plants and animals ("Magen Abot," 35d, Leghorn). In spite of the poetical passages in the Holy Scriptures speaking of the rejoicing, exultation, or sadness of plants, they have no feeling—possessing, according to Aristotle, only a self-nourishing power. Earth, water, sun, and air contribute to their growth. Differences in plants are due to the varying combinations of the four elements, to heat and cold, to dampness and dryness. They grow (1) from seeds; (2) from the decay of other materials (Anatoli, "Malmad," 5a), as the saprophytes; (3) from water; (4) from slips; (5) or parasitically, i.e., on other plants. In addition to the fable that birds grow on trees, Duran states that in India a woman grows on a tree, falls with a loud cry when she is ripe, and dies. Duran also compares the parts of plants to the organs of animal bodies; classifies them as trees, bushes, herbs, and grasses, as wild and cultivated trees, and as fruit-and forest-trees; and treats of their varying longevity, of sex (the artificial fertilization of palm-and fig-trees, sometimes, however, effected by the wind), of the value of plants as means of nourishment and as remedies, poisons, and odors, and of various plant-juices and their different tastes.

Number of Species.

.The only specifically Jewish reference is the statement that, according to Jewish scholars, there are 1,290 kinds of plants, since every herb has its own particular star, and there are 1,290 stars, not 1,022 as the astronomers maintain (Abravanel on Gen 15:5).^ Plants are grouped in sections for easy reference according to their most common habitats.

In the commentary on the "Sefer Yeẓirah" the number of the varieties of plants was estimated at 2,100, corresponding to the numerical value of (missing hebrew text) = 1,000; ר =200; ץ =900. The statement introduced by Maimonides ("Moreh Nebukim," ii. 10), "There is no herb on earth without a constellation in heaven that governs it, fosters it, and calls to it, 'Grow on,'" comes from R. Simon b. Pazzi (see Gen. R. x. 6; Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." ii. 473; Löw, l.c. p. 6). It is found also in the Midrash Konen; but there an angel is substituted for the constellation (Jellinek, "B. H." ii. 27; "Sefer Raziel," ed. Schwarz; "Tikwat Enosh" on Job 38:31). Chwolson ("Ssabier," ii. 467) also states: "Every plant has its demon." Such opinions resulted in statements that the number of plant varieties equals that of the stars (so Gerson b. Solomon, and Duran with more detail).
Naḥmanides relies on Simon's statement to establish a better foundation for the Biblical prohibition against mixing heterogeneous plants (commentary on Gen. i. p. 4c; on Lev. xix. p. 100b; see Löw, l.c. p. 6). R. Simon's idea was far too welcome to the spirit of the Cabala not to be continued further. Thus, to mention two extremes: the Zohar reproduces it repeatedly, sometimes in combination with the prohibition of mixed seeds (ii. 15b, 171b; iii. 86a); and Azulai interprets it as follows: "Everything in the world is dependent upon things of a higher scale: even a little blade of grass is related to higher leaves, developed roots, stems, seeds, blossoms, and petals, to height, breadth, length, form; in fact, to everything of higher significance. Even its connection with its angel, and the connection of this angel with his own sefirah, and of this sefirah with the Infinite [En Sof], illustrate the fact. So that he who partakes of anything without a benediction, wantonly tears it from its ultimate connection with the Deity" ("Midbar Ḳedemot," letter ב, No. 20; compare letter צ No. 13). The thought has also penetrated into non-Jewish circles. Thus Paracelsus says: "Every star in heaven is a spiritual growth to which some herb on earth corresponds, and by its attractive power, the star draws on the herb on earth corresponding to it; so that every herb is an earthly star, just as every star is a spiritualized herb" (Friedreich, "Die Symbolik und Mythologie der Natur," p. 193, Würzburg, 1859; Meyer, "Gesch. der Botanik," iv. 430). An Oxford manuscript mentions herbs corresponding to single planets (Steinschneider, in "Monatsschrift," pp. 42, 364).

The Vegetative Soul.

Aristotle's idea of the vegetative soul ( (missing hebrew text) (missing hebrew text) ) governs almost the entire Arabian and Jewish philosophy (Dieterici, "Die Anthropologie der Araber," 1871, pp. 8, 58, 146 et seq.). It is met with in Isaac b. Solomon Israeli (middle of the tenth century; Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 388); in the "Book of Definitions" (Steinschneider, "Zunz Jubelschrift," p. 137); in Baṭalyusi, whose influence on Jewish philosophy is pointed out by Kaufmann ("Al-Baṭalyusi," p. 10 and gate iv. 51); and in Gabirol (S. Horovitz, "Die Psychologie ibn Gabirol's," p. 115, Breslau, 1900), who states in his allegorical exegesis: "Adam signifies the reasoning or human soul; Eve, the living or animal soul; the snake, the desiring or vegetative soul, the lowest grade in animated nature." The seed of Eve is to crush the head of the serpent,while the latter is to smite the heel of the former, illustrating the close and unbroken interconnection between the natural and psychical worlds. Where the animal soul ceases, the plant soul begins: the serpent, typifying the plant soul, gets its nourishment from the dust (Kaufmann, "Studien über Salomon ibn Gabirol," p. 70, Budapest, 1899). Abraham ibn Daud's teachings (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 369) on plant and animal souls have been concisely presented by Rosin ("Die Ethik des Maimonides," p. 48, note, Breslau, 1876), and exhaustively treated by Guttmann ("Monatsschrift;" xxvii. 164). "In plants, as in sleeping bodies," says Ibn Daud, "there is life" ("Emunah Ramah," p. 15). "According to Aristotle, the coral shows the transition from plants to animals" (ib. p. 31). He makes special mention of opium and the aloe. Similarly Ibn Ezra speaks of the plant's soul as its nourishing principle for growth and propagation (Rosin, in "Monatsschrift," xlii. 448). Ibn Ezra devotes considerable care to elaborating Gabirol's allegory mentioned above (see Rosin and Kaufmann, l.c.). Maimonides characterizes the nutrient function of the soul as corresponding to the plant soul, but does not mention the latter in the first of the "Eight Chapters" (Scheyer, "Das Psychologische System des Maimuni," p. 10; Rosin, "Die Ethik des Maimonides," p. 47). Mose de Leon (thirteenth century) knew of the plant soul (Jellinek, "Mose de Leon," p. 18, note), as did Baḥya ben Asher ibn Ḥalawa, who says: "The soul of reason is immortal, but the animal soul is not, and the plant soul is even farther removed from immortality. The latter is the lowest; therefore Holy Scripture says that earth brought forth the plants, while of animals it says that God created them" (commentary on Gen 1:12; Bernstein, "Die Schrifterklärung des Baḥya," 1891, p. 63; Arama, "Aḳedat Yiẓḥaḳ," iii. 1, 29b). In comparing man and trees, Aaron b. Joseph, the Karaite, says: "All this on account of the plant soul" ("Mibḥar," 18a). See also Shem-Ṭob ibn Falaquera of the thirteenth century (Venetianer, "A Fokozatok Koenyve," p. 58, Szegedin, 1890; idem, "Das Buch der Grade von Shem-Ṭob ben Josef ibn Falaquera," Berlin, 1894); Ḥayyim Vital of the seventeenth century ("Sha'are Ḳedushah," i. 2); Steinschneider, in "Z. D. M. G." xxvii. 557, note; and idem, "Hebr. Uebers." p. 903, note.

General References.

Among general references to plants may be mentioned those by Baḥya ben Joseph ibn Pakuda: "Plants created for the perfection and use of man are a testimony of divine wisdom. The love of God caused man to come forth from an original nothing composed of the elements; then to become plant-material, then sustenance which is converted into seed and blood, and finally into life and a living man" ("Ḥobot ha-Lebabot," ii. 4 [ed. Baumgarten, p. 7]; ib. ii. 5 [ed. Baumgarten, p. 8a]). Jeshua b. Judah, the Karaite, of Jerusalem (middle of eleventh century), has the following: "The Jews said that if it had not been written in the Holy Scriptures: 'And God said: Behold, I have given you every herb that bears seed, as food,' they would not have been allowed to use herbs and plants for food." Jeshua, however, thinks this opinion untenable, since "plants feel no pain" (Schreiner, "Studien über Jeshua b. Jehuda"). Finally, Judah ha-Levi remarks: ("Cuzari," v. 10 [ed. Hirschfeld p. 246])
"Since minerals originated solely through commixture, they do not need the God-granted form necessary to plants and animals, to which a soul has been assigned. The finer the commixture is made, the nobler is its form, revealing more and more of divine wisdom, until it becomes a plant, which possesses a certain degree of feeling and perception. Forthwith it penetrates into the earth, and, nourished by good, damp soil and sweet water, and avoiding their opposites, it grows, and remains standing after having brought forth its kind and produced seed. This seed devotes itself to a similar activity, in accordance with its wonderful intuitive wisdom, called by the philosophers Nature itself—meaning the powers that care for the preservation of the species; for a body that is a composite of various substances can not be preserved indefinitely in its individuality. Nothing possessing only the powers of growth, reproduction, and nourishment has any motion. According to philosophers, these powers are directed by Nature; but in reality, whether ascribed to Nature or soul, force or angel, these successive stages are directed by God. If the commixture is still more refined, and capable of divine wisdom, it will be fit to adopt a higher form than one possessing mere natural power. That is to say, it will be able to obtain nourishment from a distance; in other words, it will possess organic limbs, moving according to its own volition. It will command its members more than plants are able to do, which latter can not protect themselves from harm or seek what is useful, and are played with by the wind. Thus, the animal possesses limbs by which he is transported. The form granted him in addition to the natural life is called a soul".

Knowledge of Botany.

On the necessity of a knowledge of botany, Judah ha-Levi (ib. ii. 64 [ed. Cassel, p. 169; ed. Hirschfeld, p. 94]) says: "When a member of the Sanhedrin died, another of equal birth could succeed him, for the sciences were familiar among the people." This was necessarily so, since one needed a knowledge of all the sciences for the complete observance of the Law; of the physical ones, for instance, for the agricultural laws, as in distinguishing mixed seeds, in avoiding the products of the Sabbatical year and of new orchards, and in separating various plants from one another, so that each might be kept with its original species, and that one class might not be confused with another. It is extremely difficult to determine whether Greek barley (χόνδρος; see Löw, l.c. pp. 104, 164; B. Bahlul, 878; according to Ibn Awwâm, a variety of spelt) is a form of barley, or spelt a variety of wheat, or cauliflower (Löw, l.c. p. 214) a variety of cabbage. To do so one must know the qualities and the measure of the spread of the roots in the earth, as well as what does and does not remain over for the next year, in order that one may know how much room and interval of time are to be left between one crop and another.
In a list of foods Meïr Aldabi of Toledo mentions sixty-five plants, only one of which, (missing hebrew text) ("eggplant"), has a grammatical interest. None of these lists has more than a slight value. For years they were ascribed to Galen and Avicenna.
Neither Todros nor Cavaillon wrote on botany (Steinschneider, "Jüdische Literatur," p. 446 [p. 305 of Hebrew edition]; idem," Hebr. Uebers." p. 783; Gross, "Gallia Judaica," p. 539). In his medical work, "Ma'aseh Ṭobiyah," printed in 1697, Tobia Cohen of Metz (Zunz, "G. S." i. 193) also touches on cures, and in one appendix treats of forty plants as foods and remedies; while in another he gives aglossary of simple remedies written in several languages. In the first he mentions the following trees and plants: apple, birch, pear, box, citron, cypress, date, oak, ivy, ash, fig, pine, oak-apple, elder, linden, laurel, mulberry, pomegranate, walnut, olive, poplar, brook-willow, peach, plum, rose, rosemary, elm, sandalwood, tamarisk, fir, willow, vine, (missing hebrew text) (missing hebrew text) ("juniper"), plane, (missing hebrew text) (Pino salvaticum, pine-tree).
Tobia Cohen also deserves mention among Jewish botanists because he illustrated a variety of the orchid in his work (p. 143a).

Later Developments.

The superficiality of the barren period between Mendelssohn's death and the appearance of Rapoport is shown in the chapter on botany, said to be written, according to some German text-book on natural history, by Baruch Lindau for his encyclopedia "Reshit Limmudim," Berlin, 1788. He gives a short article on botany in forty pages, and, owing to his lack of Jewish learning, makes mistakes in the Hebrew nomenclature of plants.
Phineas Elijah b. Meïr of Wilna (Steinschneider, "Cat. Bodl." No. 6753; Zunz, "G. S." i. 196) was more intimately acquainted with the Jewish knowledge of the Middle Ages. He derives his natural philosophy from Ḥayyim Vital, and describes the three powers of the plant soul; viz., those that nourish, those that promote growth, and those that propagate. He knows that modern botany regards all plants as growing out of the seed, though in many cases this is microscopic in size. He also mentions that plants have male and female organs of reproduction that are sometimes united in the same individual, and sometimes divided between two, in which latter case the wind carries the pollen to the female part, though bees also, in collecting the pollen on their feet, assist in the fertilization of the blossoms they afterward visit.
The microscope discloses the wonders of God in nature, and one sees—as Phineas repeatedly asserts—the whole plant pictured in the seed. Not only is the next generation represented, but, according to some modern botanists, all the later generations lie folded up in the seed from the time of its creation. This, however, has not been proved, and is only a hypothesis. It may be, he says, that each generation produces only the seed of the next. Phineas adopts the latter view, since experience shows that the unripe seed is not capable of propagation, though, in view of the minute wonders disclosed by the microscope, the former can not be called impossible. As he learns from botany that there are 20,000 known plants, while Jewish tradition counts only 2, 100, he considers these latter as so many plant families, and subdivides these into many classes. Then follow some remarks on plants turning toward the sun. Among the plants mentioned are the sunflowers ( (missing hebrew text) ) and quite correctly the Talmudic (missing hebrew text) (should be (missing hebrew text) ) or "mallow." Of the brantgoose he treats earlier in speaking of moving plants, such as the (missing hebrew text) ("touch-me-not" or "Impatiens"). But the most striking botanical reference is the following (xi. 4f, 63a): "In 1744 it was discovered that when flying insects touch the plant (missing hebrew text) ("polyps"), growing in Europe in pools among reeds and rushes, it folds its leaves together, seizes the insect, and, crushing it into dust, feeds on it." Phineas adds: "How great are the wonders of our God!" For further information on botany, see Folk-Lore, Measures, Names, Plants.
This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.

Simple English

Botany is a science. It is a branch of biology, and is also called plant biology. It is sometimes called phytology. Botany is the study of plants. Scientists who study botany are called botanists. They want to learn about how plants work.

Branches of Botany

  • Agronomy—Application of plant science to crop production
  • Bryology—Mosses, liverworts, and hornworts
  • Forestry—Forest management and related studies
  • Horticulture—Cultivated plants
  • Mycology—Fungi
  • Paleobotany—Fossil plants
  • Palynology—Pollen and spores
  • Phycology—Algae
  • Phytochemistry—Plant secondary chemistry and chemical processes
  • Phytopathology—Plant diseases
  • Plant anatomy—Cell and tissue structure
  • Plant ecology—Role of plants in the environment
  • Plant genetics—Genetic inheritance in plants
  • Plant morphology—Structure and life cycles
  • Plant physiology—Life functions of plants
  • Plant systematics—Classification and naming of plants

Notable botanists

  • Ibn al-Baitar (d. 1248), Andalusian-Arab scientist, botanist, pharmacist, physician, and author of one of the largest botanical encyclopedias.
  • Buffon (1707–1788) was a French naturalist who held the position of Intendant of the Jardin du Roi ('King's Garden'). Buffon published thirty-five volumes of his Histoire naturelle during his lifetime, and nine more volumes were published after his death.
  • Luther Burbank (1849–1926), American botanist, horticulturist, and a pioneer in agricultural science.
  • Charles Darwin (1809–1882) wrote eight important books on botany after he published the Origin of Species.
  • Al-Dinawari (828–896), Kurdish botanist, historian, geographer, astronomer, mathematician, and founder of Arabic botany.
  • Conrad Gessner (1516–1565) was a Swiss naturalist and bibliographer.
  • Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817–1911), English botanist and explorer. Second winner of Darwin Medal.
  • Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of Binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology.
  • Gregor Mendel (1822–1884), Augustinian priest and scientist, and is often called the father of genetics for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants.
  • John Ray (1627–1705) was an English naturalist, the father of English natural history.
  • G. Ledyard Stebbins (1906–2000) was an American botanist and geneticist. He was one of the leading evolutionary biologists of the 20th century.
  • Eduard Strasburger (1844–1912) was a Polish-German professor who was one of the most famous botanists of the 19th century.
  • Nikolai Vavilov (1887–1943) was a Russian botanist and geneticist. He showed how and where crop plants evolved. He studied and improved wheat, corn, and other cereal crops.
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