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  Botany (from Greek botane, ‘plant’) is the study of all aspects of living plants; the first acknowledged botanist was Aristotle\'s student Theophrastus (c.371-287  BCE). He produced works entitled Enquiry into Plants and Aetiology of Plants, but these were not rediscovered by European philosophers until the Renaissance. Some of the earliest botanical work was based on the desire to classify medically useful plants in herbals. For example, Pesanius Dioscorides produced a herbal which referred to some 600 plants in the 1st century. In Europe, the Renaissance led to a great growth in scientific botanical study as botanical gardens and herbaria were established and stocked with plant species collected by travellers in the Old and New Worlds. In 1628, Caspar Bauhin produced his Illustrated Exposition of Plants, in which he used a binomial system to name some 6,000 plants, many of which were illustrated. The appearance of the lens and microscope in the 16th century promoted the establishment of plant anatomy as a new science, followed by anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and taxonomy. Botany led to great advances in the life sciences such as cell theory and genetics, and is continuing to contribute to scientific progress in agriculture, forestry and pharmacy. The original driving force behind botany continues as new plants, with unknown agricultural and pharmaceutical uses, are discovered daily. RB

See also ethnobotany; palaeobotany; photobiology; tropism.



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