Science College, General Science Dept
THE HISTORY OF BOTANY
The very first ancient documents about plants that came down on us saw plants mainly under the aspects of utility and medicinal use, including this usage by the Native Americans, as mentioned below. The first original observations were made by HILDEGARD von BINGEN, but it is ALBERT THE GREAT who is regarded as the rediscoverer of scientific botany. His work had a large influence on Western scientific literature. New knowledge was also gained by the travellers and discoverers of the time, MARCO POLO, for example, and the crusades. Plants were not only looked at from the point of view of utility. Special powers were attributed to them and some were even considered holy. An example of the latter is lotus, which was sacred to the ancient Egyptians, to the Hindus and to other people of the east. Nevertheless, they did eat the lotus fruits: these were forbidden only to Egyptian priests.