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Branch of biology that deals with plants, including the study of the structure, properties, and biochemical processes of all forms of plant life, as well as plant classification, plant diseases, and the interactions of plants with their physical environment. The science of botany traces back to the ancient Greco-Roman world but received its modern impetus in Europe in the 16th century, mainly through the work of physicians and herbalists, who began to observe plants seriously to identify those useful in medicine. Today the principal branches of botanical study are morphology, physiology, ecology, and systematics (the identification and ranking of all plants). Subdisciplines include bryology (the study of mosses and liverworts), pteridology (the study of ferns and their relatives), paleobotany (the study of fossil plants), and palynology (the study of modern and fossil pollen and spores). See alsoforestry, horticulture.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on botany, visit Britannica.com.