Botany, plant science(s), or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses. Botany covers a wide range of scientific disciplines 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 branches of science. Today botanists study over 550,000 species of living organisms.
The term "botany" comes from Greek βοτάνη, meaning "pasture, grass, fodder", perhaps via the idea of a livestock keeper needing to know which plants are safe for livestock to eat.