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How to Benefit from Botany

botany-tools

Image source: wikimedia commons

Botany, which can be defined as the study of plants, is one of the main disciplines of biology. For hundreds of years, the observation of plant life has helped scientists unearth the nature of historical development. Botany has provided insight into the diets of early human settlers, and the hunter-gatherers that came before them. It has also enabled the study and use of plant properties for medicinal purposes.

But botany isn’t limited to work in laboratories, nor is the practice exclusive to professional scientists. Plant life can be, with a little practice and curiosity, accessible to the observation of ordinary nature enthusiasts.  In fact, learning about botany can be beneficial to you – and your local environment.

First of all, as you become familiar with native and invasive species, you’ll be able to detect changes to the natural spaces within your region. Once you’ve learned more about specific plants and what climates they thrive in, you can further evaluate any changes to your local environment, and hypothesize as to the effects of the conditions on the health of native plants and animal life.

To begin your adventures in botany, it is best to consult local resources, such as your library or state website, for information on native species within your state or county and their characteristics. Now would also be the time to that caution and research plants that you would do best to avoid. Once you’re ready to begin exploring neighboring parks and nearby woods, you’ll want to equip yourself with a kit to assist your studies.

Create Your Own Botanical Kit

Botany kits are widely available and come prepackaged with the essential tools for beginners to use. However, it is just as easy to assemble your own kit. This way, it is customized to your needs and interests, including only tools you’ll actually have a desire to use. Basic tools to look into include the following:

  • Tweezers – These are staples for the careful collection of plants, especially if you intend to sample a small piece, such as a nut or a thorn.
  • Knife – This is crucial if you wish to dissect your plants for a deeper observation.
  • Pencil and Paper – it never hurts to take down notes as you observe, and doing so will help you later when researching your finds on the web.
  • Magnifying Glass – This will allow you to study characteristic details not present to the unaided eye.
  • Jars – or other transparent containers, where you can place and store samples you’ve collected

An other tool you may consider bringing along is a camera, or if you are a skilled illustrator, something to sketch with. Visual documentation helps you to remember the plants you’ve encountered and recognize them when comparing local plants against sources on the internet or in a book. And of course, it’ll also help to have a case in which to place these tools. A small backpack would work, as would an art supply case or makeup case, due to their compact size and use of compartments.

Share What You’ve Learned

Once you’ve gotten into the swing of things, it may be time to impart some of your new knowledge to a friend or relative. This will actually help you to retain the information long-term, and opens up an interesting dialogue between the two of you. If you have children, you can educate them on the basics of native plants and their importance in the health of local environments. They just may develop an appreciation for ecology. Additionally, it would be good to enlighten youngsters about dangerous plants to avoid, giving them a better chance to reduce their risk of exposure.

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