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Botany is the branch of biology that deals with plant life ranging from bacteria, algae, fungi, mosses, ferns, gymnosperms and flowering plants. Botanists can specialize in any on of the following areas:

- Plant ecology
- Plant genetics
- Plant morphology
- Plant pathology
- Plant physiology
- Plant taxonomy
- Economic botany

Plant taxonomists identify and classify plants. They study the systematics, chemistry, structure, genetics and reproduction of plants.

Ethnobotanists research all the plants traditionally used for food and medicine.

Palaenologists study fossil and living pollen. These studies often shed light on the historical background of a certain region.

Palaeobotanists study plant fossils and must have an interest in rocks and geology.

Plant physiologists study the functioning of plants. This involves the growth, development, nutrient uptake and biochemical processes of plants.

Mycologists study fungi.

Plant pathologists study diseases in plants.

Plant geneticists work in two main areas, namely, the cultivation of crops and population and evolutionary genetics.

Weed scientists study the different types of weed as well as mechanical, chemical and biological methods of control.

Satisfying Aspects
- working with plants
- the challenge of and variety in the work
- being able to specialize in an area of interest

Demanding aspects
- the frustration sometimes involved in doing research
- having to work long hours during some stages of research
- working under pressure

A botanist should:
- be interested in science;
- have an inquiring mind;
- be patient and curious:
- like to study and observe nature;
- be able to work independently and as part of a team;
- have a love of nature;
- be able to communicate ideas clearly in speech and in writing.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.
Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Degree: The minimum requirement is a BSc with Botany as a major - most universities. A student should decide beforehand on the preferred field of specialisation and should choose the majors and additional subjects accordingly.
Qualifications in Forestry, Nature Conservation and Horticulture - NMMU, UKZN, UL, US.

Postgraduate study: Although a BSc degree is adequate for some jobs in this field, most positions require postgraduate studies.

Diploma: N.Dip. in Forestry, Horticulture or Nature Conservation - most universities of technology, eg. UNISA, CPUT, DUT and TUT. With a diploma one is not able to work as a professional botanist, but can work with professional botanists in a large number of fields. For example, foresters work with plant ecologists and horticulturists work with plant geneticists.

- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
- Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
- SA Bureau of Standards and CSIR
- National Botanical Institute
- National Parks Boards
- Oceanographic Research Institute
- Plant Protection Research Institute
- universities, universities of technology and schools
- self-employment, as consultant, for example to fertilizer companies
- breweries

The National Botanical Institute (NBI) is the main employer of botanists. The NBI-herbarium in Kirstenbosch and some museums employ plant taxonomists to study the flora of that region. Some universities also employ plant taxonomists in full-time research posts.

Botanical Society of South Africa   
Private Bag X 10
Claremont, 7735
Tel: (021) 797-2090 Fax: (021) 797-2376

South African National Biodiversity Institute
Private Bag X101
Pretoria 0001
2 Cussonia Ave
Tel: (012) 843-5000 Fax: (012) 804-3211