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Botany (Plant Biology)

See also: Native Plants and Botanical Gardens

Selected Books

Brodie, Christina
Drawing and Painting Plants
q QK98.24.B76 2007x
Drawing on her experience as a botanical art teacher, Christina Brodie takes a holistic approach to botanical art. She covers botanical terminology; drawing and painting techniques; dissection and examination of plants; fieldwork studies; microscope work; and tips on presentation of your work.
Burger, William C.
Flowers: How They Changed the World
QK45.2.B87 2006
Burger (curator emeritus, Field Museum of Natural History Department of Botany, Chicago) relates the importance of flowers and their significance to human society.
Capon, Brian
Botany for Gardeners
QK50.C36 2010
A bestseller since its debut in 1990 and now in its 3rd edition, Capon introduces the reader to plant anatomy and physiology.
Dawson, John and Rob Lucas
The Nature Of Plants: Habitats, Challenges, And Adaptations
q QK45.2.D39 2005
The Nature of Plants takes the reader on a tour of plant habitats from the seashore up into the mountains, and from the tropics to the poles, explaining how plants have adapted to live in each area.
Dortort, Fred
The Timber Press Guide to the Succulent Plants of the World: The Definitive Reference to More Than 2000 Species
q SB438.D67 2011
This is a good volume if you want to see the variety of succulents from around the world, even if you can't grow them in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Gollner, Adam
The Fruit Hunters: A Story Of Nature, Adventure, Commerce And Obsession
SB354.8.G65 2008
Gollner examines the fruits we eat and explains why we eat them (the scientific, economic and aesthetic reasons); traces the life of mass-produced fruits (how they are created, grown and marketed) and explores the underworld of fruits that are inaccessible, ignored and even forbidden in the Western world.
Gribbin, Mary and John Gribbin
Flower Hunters
QK26.G75 2008
The Gribbins tell the story of the flower hunters: remarkable, eccentric men and women who scoured the world in search of extraordinary plants from the middle of the seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century, and helped establish the new science of botany.
Hauser, Susan
A Field Guide to Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac: Prevention and Remedies
RA1242.U78 H38 2008
This Falcon Guide is what every gardener should look at once, just so they can identify that scourge of the woodsey garden: poison ivy.
Kingsbury, Noël
Seedheads in the Garden
q SB439.28.K56 2006
Important components in the naturalistic plant compositions of pioneering plantsmen like Piet Oudolf, seedheads are placed in historical context by Noel Kingsbury, who goes on to describe their botany and the role they play in the wider ecology of the garden.
Nabhan, Gary Paul
Where Our Food Comes From: Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest to End Famine
QK46.5.D58 N33 2009
Ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan retraces the expeditions of Russian botanist Vavilov in a quest to find earth’s richest agricultural landscapes and the cultures that tend them. Since Vavilov's time in the 1940s, much biodiversity has already been lost.
Nisbet, Jack
The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest
QK31.D6 N57 2009
This is a biography of the Scottish plant collector and naturalist David Douglas, for whom the Douglas Fir is named. From 1823 to 1834, Douglas explored what is now Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.
Pollan, Michael
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
In telling the stories of four familiar plant species that are deeply woven into the fabric of our lives (apple, tulip, marijuana and potato), Pollan (author of The Omnivore's Dilemma) illustrates how they evolved to satisfy humankinds’s most basic yearnings — and by doing so made themselves indispensable. This is also available as a PBS video.
Sumner, Judith
American Household Botany: A History of Useful Plants, 1620-1900
SB108.U5 S85 2004
Until recent times, people had to choose herbs and vegetables that would last through the winter, woods that would provide heat efficiently, and plant fibers sturdy enough for weaving. Sumner (medical botany, Harvard U.) examines the ways European settlers adapted the plants and the lore they brought with them to the environment of the New World, and how this combined knowledge served ordinary people up to the beginning of the twentieth century.
Tocci, Salvatore
Plant Projects For Young Scientists
QK52.6.T63 2000
Provides instructions for and explains the principles behind a variety of botany projects and experiments for home or school.
Ward, Bobby J.
The Plant Hunter's Garden: The New Explorers And Their Discoveries
q SB454.W248 2004
Ward profiles thirty-two of today's more prolific plant hunters who are collecting plants specifically for horticultural introduction, not just as scientific specimens for botanical collections. Ward asked for their favorite plants and highlights those as well.


The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
(DVD) QK46.5.H85 B683 2009x
Based on Michael Pollan's book, this PBS video documents how human desires are an essential and intricate part of natural history. Explores the natural history of four plants-- the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato-- and the corresponding human desires-- sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and controlling nature-- that link their destinies to ours.
Core Biology: Plant Sciences
(DVD) QK45.2.C6688 2007x
Presents the principles of botany by way of a timeline featuring the field's historical milestones.

Web Sites

  • Botanical Society of America
    The BSA is one of the world's largest societies devoted to the study of plants and allied organisms, and functions as an umbrella organization covering all specialties, including development, physiology, reproductive biology, evolution, phycology, genetics, mycology, ecology, systematics, molecular biology, and paleobotany.
    • American Journal of Botany
    • Botany for the Next Millenium
      A view of the future of botany, situating the importance of plant studies within three major areas of biological inquiry: the evolution and diversity of life; the development of organisms; and the structure and function of ecosystems. It also emphasizes the need for integration of research, along with more attention to education and communication.
  • Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System
    The Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System presents data on plants that cause poisoning in livestock, pets, and humans. The plants include native, introduced, and cultivated outdoor plants as well as indoor plants that are found in Canada.
  • Centre for International Ethnomedicinal Education and Research
    A nonprofit educational and research organization developed to establish a focal point for the exchange of ethnomedicinal knowledge and to establish an international network of ethnobotanical researchers. The site offers a listserv and a discussion forum, links to upcoming conferences in ethnobiology.
  • Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research and Australian National Herbarium
    Information on Australian plants
    If you are looking for information about plants from China, North America or Chile, check out this joint project from the Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria.
  • FAO: Forestry
    Extensive information about each country's forests from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • Invasive and Exotic Species of North America
    Look here for information on and photos of weeds. This is part of the Bugwood Network from The University of Georgia - College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences/Warnell School of Forest Resources.
  • Native American Ethnobotany Database
    Materials provided by Dan Moerman, Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan. A searchable database including foods, drugs, dyes, fibers and other uses of plants (a total of 44,691 items). This represents uses by 291 Native American groups of 3,895 species from 243 different plant families.
  • Silvics of North America
    This is a USDA Forest Service Manual for both conifers and hardwood trees of North America. "Silvics of North America" describes the silvical characteristics of about 200 conifers and hardwood trees in the conterminous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Individual articles were researched and written by knowledgeable Forest Service, university, and cooperating scientists.
  • The Society for Economic Botany
    Established in 1959 to foster and encourage scientific research, education, and related activities on the past, present, and future uses of plants, and the relationship between plants and people, and to make the results of such research available to the scientific community and the general public through meetings and publications.
  • Wayne's Word: A Newsletter of Natural History Trivia
    This site is a delight to anyone interested in botany, edible wild plants, and tropical food plants. Created by Wayne Armstrong of Palomar College.

Pittsburgh Region

  • Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania
    The Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania is one of the oldest botanical organizations in the country which has met and served as a resource of knowledge on the flowers of Pennsylvania since 1886. This is accomplished with the help of professional and amateur botanists, monthly meetings and weekly fieldtrips.
  • Botanical Society of Westmoreland County (BSWC)
    Founded in 1949, the Society meets monthly in Greensburg.
  • Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation
    A research division of Carnegie Mellon University that specializes in the history of botany and all aspects of plant science and serves the international scientific community through research and documentation.
  • Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
    Formerly the Botanic Garden of Western Pennsylvania and the Horticultural Society of Western Pennsylvania)
    Founded in 1988 and incorporated as a 501(c)3 organization in 1992, The Horticultural Society of Western Pennsylvania’s purpose is to develop the region’s first comprehensive botanical garden, focussing on displays of regional flora, horticultural and environmental education, and research into botanical issues of regional importance.
  • The Trees of Pittsburgh
    This Web site by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is designed to serve as a handy and useful reference guide to the most prevalent trees in Pittsburgh. Use it to identify and learn about “The Trees of Pittsburgh.”
  • Western Pennsylvania Mushroom Club
    Interested in wild mushrooms but afraid to pick and eat them? Learn all about fungi with this local club.

Pennsylvania and Nearby States

  • Common Trees of Pennsylvania
    from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry. Look up a tree by name.
  • Pennsylvania Flora Project
    a major focus of the Botany Department of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, the majority of the 400,000 specimens on which the entries are based reside in the herbaria of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, The Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, The Pennsylvania State University, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, and the the Morris Arboretum. Unfortunately, no photos or illustrations are included.
  • Ohio Trees
    A list of common trees found in Ohio, with links to photos and information about them. Most of these trees are also found in Pennsylvania. From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.