BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

Botany


BOTANY OR PLANT BIOLOGY: DEFINED

Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Botany covers a wide range of scientific disciplines concerned with the study of plants, algae and fungi, including structure, growth, reproduction, metabolism, development, diseases, chemical properties, and evolutionary relationships among taxonomic groups. Botany began with early human efforts to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants, making it one of the oldest sciences. Today botanists study over 550,000 species of living organisms. The term "botany" comes from a Greek word meaning "pasture, grass, fodder."  Perhaps it began with the idea of a livestock keeper needing to know which plants are safe for livestock to eat.

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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 classification or taxonomy, with structure, that is anatomy and morphology, or with function, that is, the physiology of plant life.

Historically all living things were grouped as animals or plants, 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 which are now studied in mycology, lichens in lichenology, bacteria  in bacteriology, viruses in 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. For more of an overview of the field of botany go to the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Botany

THE GREAT ADVENTURE

In the great adventures of botanical discovery from the 17th to the 19th century, expertise about plants was often supplementary cargo in voyages whose main purpose was to find, chart and conquer new lands. You planted the flag and then you named the plants. Making an inventory of the world’s plants, learning where they grew, and where they could be made to grow, and figuring out what they were good for, were activities hugely dependent on the navies, armies and trading companies of the big imperial powers. The mutiny on the Bounty ruined a mission in imperial botany: Lieutenant William Bligh’s task had been to secure breadfruit trees from Tahiti, then carry them to the Caribbean to provide cheap food for slaves on the sugar-cane plantations. The trees got to the Caribbean on a second Royal Navy breadfruit voyage in 1793.

The theory of natural selection was also a by-product of empire: Charles Darwin went along for the ride on the survey barque HMS Beagle as unpaid gentleman’s companion to the captain. Hydrography, meteorology and cartography in the aid of empire were the Beagle’s missions, evolutionary theory its unintended consequence. From the 18th century, botanists battled over the proper way to name and classify plants. The binary taxonomic system devised by Linnaeus in the 1750s was frankly ‘artificial’. That is, its classifying criteria – the number and arrangements of the sexual parts of flowers – arbitrarily focused on a small portion of a plant’s features and were not meant to reflect the patterns of relationship actually found in nature. The system was, instead, intended as a practical tool that would allow easy identification and global stability of reference. For more on this subject, this review, of the book Imperial Nature: Joseph Hooker and the Practices of Victorian Science by Jim Endersby, Chicago, 429 pages, 2008, go to:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v30/n22/steven-shapin/species-mongers

THE LIGHTHOUSE

In discussing the character of a man, there is no course of error so fertile as the drawing of a hard and fast line. We are attracted by the salient points, what seems to stand out in his life, and seeing them clearly and repeatedly we jump to conclusions. That is natural. These conclusions may even have some validity. These qualities that stand out may be likened to a lighthouse guiding our way in the night or, in the day, serving as a landmark in our travels. But they are only a guide. They tell us little of the surrounding landscape, none of the geology, the history, the botany, the geography of the nearby terrain. This is even more true of a man's life, so far removed from the general sketch, the highlights, which at best are all that is usually passed down to succeeding generations.

The man of letters on the other hand is, in truth, ever writing his own biography or autobiography. What is in his mind he declares to the world, to whoever reads his works. If he finds a readership, if his work is well written, this memoir, this biography, this autobiography will be all that is necessary. It will take us far beyond that lighthouse into geology, history, botany, geography--a total view. -Ron Price with thanks to Anthony Trollope, The Life of Cicero, quoted in Trollope, Victoria Glendinning, Pimlico, London, 1993, p.v.

There are some lighthouses here.
I've set them out along the coast
to guide your way through the night
of my life and there has been much
night, black clouds and darknesses.

I've also provided rich and varied
collections of flora and fauna
to tell you something
of the living tissue of my days,
some of its green shoots,
its flowers, its bright colours
and some of its exotic texture.

I've even left you a map
to help you connect
with nearby towns and villages;
for I have belonged to a community
where people knew me
and would tell you something of me.

But, again, do not jump to conclusions
about the nature of my person and self.
What I have left behind can only,
like the lighthouse, guide your travels.

I have tried to be faithful
to the Covenant of God,
to fulfill in my life His trust
and in the realm of spirit
obtain the gem of divine virtue.1
But how successful I have been
that is a mystery to me, as much as thee.

1 Baha'u'llah, Hidden Words, Introductory passage.

Ron Price
17 January 2002

DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: KINGDOM OF PLANTS

Kingdom of Plants is a natural history documentary series written and presented by David Attenborough. The series explores the world of plants. It was filmed over the course of a year at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. The series premiered on 26 May 2012 on the Sky network in the UK.  I have just finished watching the 3-part series in Tasmania, October/November 2012.

Each of the three episodes explores a different aspect of plant life. "Life in the Wet Zone," program 1, explains how plants first colonised wet and humid environments, "Solving the Secrets" explores plant reproductive techniques and "Survival" shows how plants continually adapt to their environments. The series also goes behind the scenes of Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Project. The series makes use of multiple camera formats and employs live action, time-lapse, high-speed, infrared, macro and micro photography to bring its subjects to life. Some of these techniques were pioneered in 3D for this series.

Kingdom of Plants is Attenborough's first 3D television series, and follows his two earlier films in the format; Flying Monsters 3D (2010) and The Bachelor King 3D (2011). The same production team are currently working on Galapagos 3D, due to be broadcast at the end of 2012. An iPad app, a companion to the series, was released on 23 May 2012. It used video and imagery from the series to provide a virtual tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Of the app, Attenborough commented "You can swipe your finger across the tablet to make a plant flower and, not only that, put it back again; it’s quite fun." Go to this link for more:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Plants_3D


ATTENBOROUGH: AN INTERVIEW

David Attenborough: The BBC has lost confidence in programming - and women are key to the planet's future.  Sir David Attenborough tells Richard Godwin what led him to follow Frozen Planet with his new series, The Kingdom of Plants, for Sky and what he thinks of modern broadcasting styles. Go to this link for more:http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/david-attenborough-the-bbc-has-lost-confidence-in-programming--and-women-are-key-to-the-planets-future-7766017.html

NEOPHYTE

In botany, a neophyte (from Greek "new" and "plant") is a plant species which is not native to a geographical region, and was introduced in recent history. Plants that are long-established in an area are calledarchaeophytes. In Britain, neophytes are defined as plant species that were introduced after 1492, when Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World and the Columbian Exchange began.




MORE ON GARDENS

A review of the following books appeared in The New York Review of Books on 25/9/'14: (a) Groundbreakers: Great American Gardens & the Women Who Designed Them--a booklet of the exhibition at the New York Botanical Garden(17 May to 7 September 2014); (b) The Mythology of Plants: Botanical Lore from Ancient Greece and Rome by Annette Giesecke(Getty, 150 pages); (c) Pleasures of the Garden: A Literary Anthology edited by Christina Hardyment(British Library, 225 pages); (d) The Gardens of the British Working Class by Margaret Willes(Yale University Press, 400 pages); (e)The Plant Hunters: The Adventures of the World’s Greatest Botanical Explorers by Carolyn Fry(Univ. of Chicago Press, 60 pages); and (f) The Golden Age of Botanical Artby Martyn Rix(University of Chicago Press, 250 pages). The review begins as follows:

"Wishful thinking is entwined with gardening. We plant, we dream, we fantasize about flowers, and we see behind them the people who once gave them to us or first showed us their beauty, and then others to whom we showed them and gave them lovingly all over again. Reality then intervenes, a drought, insects, or an intruding wild pig. Gardeners are great killers in pursuit of their dreams. Vita Sackville-West, the genius of Sissinghurst Castle, used to say that her gardening was rivaled only by infant mortality in the Middle Ages. Still we dream on, propelling our gardens and their art into the next season and the next transformation, with visions of our own fresh melons or white-scented flowers on a capricious Cardiocrinum from the Himalayas. For more of this review go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/sep/25/gardens-their-dreams/?insrc=toc


THE AGE WE LIVE IN

It is not so much authorial ego or that I am a compulsive self-historiographer which compels me to document my life more fully than most. All this poetry is my workshop where my awareness of life expresses itself quintessentially. I also see myself as part of a global pattern, a representative figure, part of a mytho-historical process which may be of use to future generations. I was born into a new age with the Kingdom of God just beginning when I was nine years old. In my lifetime the Baha'i administrative process, the nucleus and pattern for a new Order, went through a radical growth period. I have been committed to the promises and possibilities of this new way of Life.(1) As F. Scott Fitzgerald was committed to and had a belief in American life in the 1920s, as American was going through new beginnings so, too, do I feel strongly, passionately, a new commitment, a new belief and new beginnings.

George Bull points out in his introduction to his massive biography of the life of Michelangelo that people are often best understood "in the crowded context of the significant changes and continuities of the age."(2) The age I have lived in and through has also faced "significant changes and continuities." My life, I have little doubt, can be understood, too, as Michelangelo's and so many others have been understood, in this same general context of their age. -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Matthew Bruccoli, editor, The Notebooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harcourt, Brace and Jovanovich, NY, 1945, p.vii; and (2)George Bull, Michelangelo: A Biography, Viking Press, 1995, p.xviii.

I, too, saw myself as coming
at the end of a complex
historical process
that had its beginnings
in the district of Ahsa,
those birds flying over Akka
and those Men with beards
and I identified with it, at least
some of it,a good part if it.

I was born near the start
of yet another Formative Age:
would it last as long as the Greeks?(1)
I understood profoundly well
the claims of this new belief
as you did the claims of your craft.(2)
I was, like you, fortune's darling
in this new age and I was, too,
the shell-shocked casualty
of a war that was more complex
than any of us could understand.

(1) the Greek Formative Age lasted from 1100 to 500 BC; this one, the Formative Age of the Baha'i Faith, began 23 years before I was born.
2 F. Scott Fitzgerald, arguably the major American writer between the wars: 1919-1939.


FORENSIC SCIENCE GETS GOING

While the Baha’i temple in Sydney was in its final months of construction before its official opening in September 1961, Stephen Bradley was convicted of the murder of an eight year old boy, Graham Thorne, in the first trial in which modern, complex forensic science--and particularly forensic botany--played a dominant role in securing a conviction. Thorne had just won Australia’s first big lottery to finance the building of the Opera House.–Ron Price with thanks to WIN TV, 9:35-11:15 p.m., “Kid For Ransom,” Crime Investigation Unit, 27 November 2007.

Forensic sciences has an interesting history going back to the Roman physician Galen who performed the first autopsies in the 2nd century BC. But in the 19th century the history of forensic science developed exponentially. In 1844 the first forensic medicine was taught in London. A method for the identification of bloodstains was discovered in 1863. In 1892 Galton wrote a book on the classification of fingerprints. the story had just begun.-Ron Price with thanks to Jim Fisher, “Forensic Science Timeline,” Internet Site, 28 November 2007.

They were very big years with
Yuri Gagarin going around
the earth and with TV sets
going to two million from
1958 to 19611 Downunder.

I joined Baha’i, a movement
that had just got going back
then with, say, three hundred
members in that far-off isolated
continent where they had started
building that temple back then in
Sydney finishing it in ’61 just after
the greatest manhunt in Australian
history, the trial of Stephen Bradley
and the use of forensic botanical
science for the first time in a
major criminal investigation.

1 Noel Sanders, “Crimes of Passion: TV, Popular Literature and the Graeme Thorne Kidnapping,” The Australian Journal of Cultural Studies, Volume 1 No.1 May 1983.
Ron Price 28 November 2007

GEOLOGY AND BOTANY: AMAZING

Professor Iain Stewart(1964- ) is a Scottish geologist. As well as being professor of Geoscience Communication at the University of Plymouth, he has presented a number of television and radio series, such as: Journeys From the Centre of the Earth,  Earth: The Power of the Planet,  Hot Rocks, 10 Things You Didn't Know About…., The Climate Wars,  How Earth Made Us and How to Grow a Planet. He has a way of making all of those dull subjects I took at primary and high school sound amazing, something I could have actually got my teeth into when I was a child and in my teens. 

Last night, as I was running out of my daily quota of energy and falling asleep in front of the TV, his subject was photosynthesis.  He called it: “plants harnessing energy from outer space.”  When you put it like that, you start to see plants in a whole new light. Literally. Of course, the cinematography, the script-writing, Stewart’s enthusiasm and the organization of the material all helped to turn on my sensory and intellectual emporium, in spite of my fatigue, on a cold night in Tasmania’s winter. I am in the early years of my retirement having been on an old-age pension for three years. I might have had an entirely different career trajectory if I had been in school for this kind of curricular content. 
Many of the sciences, the social sciences and the humanities are making use of television to bring their disciplines alive for a mass public. The process did not begin until I left school in the sixties, and became a teacher myself. I made extensive use of the electronic media as a teacher from the late 1960s until my retirement at the turn of the millennium.

This softly spoken, but engaging, geologist has traced our planet’s ¬evolution through rocks and volcanoes; he has explained how plants turned the Earth from a barren, hostile, purple rock surrounded by toxic gases, into a planet we could call home.  He’s had some very cool, if slightly hair-raising, experiments to show us what he’s talking about.  I will mention but one: he extracted oxygen from a lump of iron ore and, as he did, he told us that: “I’m breathing oxygen that was created two and a half billion years ago.”-Ron Price with thanks to “How To Grow a Planet,” ABC1, 8:30-9:30 17/6/’12.

You are, perhaps, the world's most recognisable
face in the field of geology thanks to a string of
acclaimed and award-winning television series!!
You have opened vistas of knowledge for me!!
Learning and the cultural attainments of the mind
are, for me, the two most luminous lights in
the world of creation; the new & wonderful
configurations, dazzling rays of somewhat
strange, nay, heavenly powers, of splendour,
ever-varying, embellished with a fresh grace
deriving from wisdom and thought’s power.1

1Abdul-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, Baha’i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 1975(1929), p.1.
Ron Price
18 June 2012


THE FIRST FLOWER

In the last months of my career as a full-time teacher, the last months of my part-time and casual teaching as well as into the early years of my full retirement from virtually all volunteer work,(1) news was reported of the discovery in northeast China of the earliest flowering plants more than 124 MYA. The print and electronic media, first in scholarly journals and the popular press and then on TV,(2) told us about what they called the first flower among the world’s flowering plants. Flowering plants are the dominant vegetation on the planet and they include: flowers, trees and many life sustaining crops. The field of study in which this knowledge, this specialized expertise, can be found is called palaeobotany and palaeobotany is a child, one of the multitude of children, of the Enlightenment. Its founding father was Gasper Maria von Sternberg (1761-1838). (3) -Ron Price, (1)
Except for my work with the International Baha’i community, (2) the journal Science in 27 November 1998; the National Geographic News, 3 May 2002 and SBS TV, 8:30-9:30 p.m. 17 February 2008; as well as (3) Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Yes, you can learn all about this
in the world of palaeobotany, or
in a newspaper or on TV—all to
the level of your capacity and
interest.  If, as it is often said,
people prefer entertainment to
edification and put a premium
on personality at the expense
of issues, they can get a quick
TV hit of that first flower & tree
back in the cretaceous period--
Cainozoic era--the fragmentary
forms: leaves, stems and branches,
stems-trunks, pollen-spores, seeds-
all old ancestors in the evolutionary
story of flowers back to dinosaurs.

But now, growing in this new age, a new
flower has begun to bloom compared to
which all other flowers are but thorns;
and, yes, a tree is now growing in the
world of existence: its boughs and its
branches, its stems and its offshoots,
its leaves and its trunk will endure as
long as those most august attributes
and most excellent titles will last,(1)
attributes and titles of that essence
which the wisdom of the wise and
the learning of the learned can not
comprehend--will never understand.

1 Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, Wilmette, 1985, p.233.

Ron Price
16 April 200
2

INTERPRETATIONS

The certitude of one's interpretations of the past can never be demonstrated. All one can hope for is that one interpretation is more probable than another, that one's analysis of the events is a judicial consideration of alternative and opposing views, that the analysis is as comprehensive as possible, that it is fruitful and possesses explanatory power, that is possesses an internal coherence and does not violate reason and is compatible with the general context of the narrative. At this stage, the sixth edition of my auotbiography, I am not inclined to delve too deeply into thorough and detailed analyses of events such as: my divorce, my remarriage, my sex life or lack of it, my knowledge of zoology or botany or, as I point out in another context, popular culture.(1) I possess the general desire to know and understand my life, my society and my religion and what I experience in these several domains. This search for explanations is, among other things, what sustains me in my literary pursuits, what propels and gives logic to my various drives to write.(2) -Ron Price with thanks to (1) Ray B. Browne, "An Interview," Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture (1900 to present), 2002. This article outlines the progress in the study of popular culture since the 1960s when it became a part of the academic curriculum; and (2) J. Lacan, The Berkeley Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture in 1985. Lacan says he is sustained as much by what he knows as what he does not know.

STARTING POINT

Species Plantarum, "The Species of Plants", by Carl Linnaeus(1707-1778) was first published in 1753 as a two-volume work. Its prime importance is perhaps that it is the primary starting point of plant nomenclature as it exists today. The book contained all plants known to European naturalists. The classification employed in the work allowed easy identification of plants by placing every genus into an artificial class and order. This was the first consistent use of naming structure for plants, and laid the basis for modern nomenclature.

Carolus Linnaeus was the founder of modern systematics and taxonomy, the sciences of classifying and naming living things. Science has no holy books, but Linnaeus’s Systema Naturae comes close. Its tenth edition, published in Stockholm in 1758, was the starting point of zoological classification, and the binomial system for naming. This binomial system is as follows: the first name for the genus; for example, Homo, and the second for the species; for example, sapiens. This system is still the norm. Linnaeus was also a talented taxonomist in his own right; many of the species he described without the aid of modern microscopes and molecular methods still stand. He was, you might say, a founding father of biodiversity studies. Linnaeus was, among other things, a physician and a zoologist, He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology. Many of his writings were in Latin.

SYNCHRONICITY

In 1753 in the northeast of Arabia in the district of Ahsa a man named Shaykh Ahmad(1753-1826) was born. He, too, was in his forties before his writings began to capture of others. His work was not as a founder, but it was a useful historical starting point for the beginning of the Babi-Baha'i phenomenon of the 19th century. The Shaykh captured the imagination of tens of thousands from the Arab East, through Iran to India and came to be regarded as the founder of the mystical Shaykhi order, one of the last great flowerings of Muslim theosophy before the impact of European thought in the 19th century. To the international Bahá'í community he is regarded as the first great precursor of the Babi-Bahá’í Faiths, a man who knew he was destined to demonstrate that nothing short of a new and independent Revelation could revive the fortunes of Islam, to say nothing of the global civilization which was to burst, by sensible and insensible degrees, on humankind.(1) -Ron Price with thanks to: (1) T. K. Cheyne, The Reconciliation of Races and Religions, Kessinger Publishing, 2004(1914), p.15.

That capacious umbrella term, the Enlightenment,
provided shelter for a multicoloured array of ideas,
several distinct enlightenments stretching over half
a dozen generations, inveighing against a religious
enthusiasm which they blamed for inelegant and
frightening outbursts of hysteria in the name of a
piety as they thirsted for new myths to hold onto.

For all their disagreements they shared intellectual
perspectives founded in the classics. They wanted(1)
in all fields of human activity empiricism, critical
thought and a science of man, as realistic aspiration.

This was the true beginning of our modern age,
this party of humanity, this outburst of secular
liberalism, modern paganism, dogmatism and
self-deception in so many forms and uniforms.

(1) In the Muslim world, Shaykh Ahmad’s world, of course, the European Enlightenment did not penetrate. The Shaykh could be said to represent a very different starting point than the one represented by the Enlightenment. The story of the clash with tradition and new, modern, currents in Muslim thought was a very different one.

Ron Price
6/3/'09 to 17/12/'13.

THE BANYAN AND THE MANGROVE

A large tertiary institution, at least the ones I taught in from 1974 to 1999, gives to each lecturer from one hundred to two hundred students a week, at least three hundred different individuals a year. While I was a lecturer, they came to me in small groups from half a dozen to large groups of forty to fifty at a time. While student-teacher relationships do arise in the context of the classes and the time after class, in and around the campus, generally there are just too many people for anything one could describe as depth of relationship, except on rare occasions.

Although I do not have any statistics, I would think that teaching the humanities and social sciences as I did for a quarter of a century would gradually ware out, or at least ware down, a great percentage of the instructors. One of the ironies of this en masse process is that some of the most difficult groups were the smallest in size; and some of the most pleasurable were the largest. Not every teacher is warn-down, though; some possess a gregariousness, a capacity for interaction and relationship that is highly robust; it seems just about infinite. Such instructors can go on forever. -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Five Epochs, 2000 to 2011.

From the Five Year Plan1
to the Four year Plan2
these classrooms provided me
with a seed-bed for seed-planting
and filled my head and my life
with humanity to overflowing
until life was sucked out of me
and I looked for love
to renew itself
under the immensity of the stars
of the most great guidance.3

And in that first year4
love sprung up intractably
like a pesky weed
to outrage our stark order.5
It yielded its head, yet again,
but its root, feeding insatiably
on the heart’s thin soil,
accumulated unobtrusively,
adventitiously. A whole world
grew, banyan-like, a new trunk;
or like the prop roots of the mangrove
produced an impenetrable thicket.6

1 1974-1979
2 1996-2000
3 ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p.1
4 April 1999 to April 2000.
5 Roger White, “Notes On Erosion”, The Witness of Pebbles, Oxford, 1981, p.71.
6 Carl Wilson, et al., Botany, 3rd edition, 1962, p. 40. My poetry can, I think, be compared to the prop-roots of the banyan-tree or of the mangrove. Firstly, my poetry ‘props’ me up; secondly, they are ‘adventitious’ roots, that is: casual, accidental; they arise seemingly, ex nihilo; thirdly, they serve as additional trunks, as my poetry serves as a new spine to keep me going; fourthly, if anyone was actually to read my collected works, they would find it as awesome as the root system of the banyan or the mangrove: complex and impenetrable, a forest of several million words and conducive to intellectual indigestion. In small doses, though, it could prove to be a purgative.

Ron Price
4 February 2000

VOLKERWANDERUNGS

A. I have found my many moves, some two dozen or more, like the Volkerwanderungs, that is, the wanderings of the past, those of the Ionians, the Angles, the Scots and the Scandinavians, possessed of an intrinsic stimulus. For these moves were part of a modern Volkerwanderung, an national and international pioneering exodus. My own role in this story was as a part of that national exodus, the opening chapters of the push of the Baha’i Faith to "the Northernmost Territories of the Western Hemisphere" and Canada’s "glorious mission overseas." And to put this venture in its largest, its longest perspective and time frame: my work is at the outset of the second 'period' of a 'cycle' of hundreds of thousands of years, in a second 'age', over four 'epochs'; or to use yet another paradigm, my life is at the beginning of the federated state, after successive units of political and social organization on the planet: tribe, chieftom, clan, city state and nation after homo sapiens sapiens emerged some 35,000 years ago from a homo sapiens line beginning 3mya.(ca)

If such are the most general perspectives on time in relation to where I am in history, the spiritual axis, mentioned by Shoghi Effendi in a 1957 letter, defines the spacial parameters of my life, in an important way. The southern pole of this axis is "endowed with exceptional spiritual potency." Many years of my life have been lived at several points along the southern extremity of this pole: in Perth, in Gawler and Whyalla and in three towns in Tasmania. All of these points lie at the outer perimeter of the ninth concentric circle whose centre is the "Bab's holy dust." In anatomy the second cervical vertebra is the axis on which the head turns. Axis also refers to any of the various central structures like the spinal column. The term is also used as a positional referent in both anatomy and in botany. Such is a brief exposition of the possible importance of where I have spent my life as an overseas pioneer.

B. My several moves, part of the laying of the foundation for this federated, this future super-state, resulted in a periodic change of outlook and this change of outlook gave birth to new conceptions. The process was an insensible one at first but, over four decades, the process resulted in a change which one could analyse at many levels. It took place in such small incremental steps, especially in the first ten years of the ad- venture, 1962-1972. But in the second decade, 1973 to 1983 "new and wonderful configurations" developed, again, not overnight, but measureably and accompanied by difficulties as well as victories. Indeed, the temple of my existence was "embellished with a fresh grace, and distinguished with an ever-varying splendour, deriving from wisdom and the power of thought." Perhaps this puts it too strongly, makes too extensive a claim. It may not have been wisdom, nor "the dazzling rays" of "a strange and heavenly power" but, rather, a progressive healing of my bi-polar disorder.

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

Notable botanists

Ibn al-Baitar (d. 1248), Andalusian-Arab scientist, botanist, pharmacist, physician, and author of one of the largest botanical encyclopedias.
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de 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.







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
Micropaleontology—Pollen and spores
Mycology—Fungi
Paleobotany—Fossil plants
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