Botany vs. horticulture

Botany vs. horticulture


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Botany vs. Horticulture  

Pick up a botany textbook, and you may find one or two pages devoted to asexual propagation, and hundreds of pages on sexual reproduction.

Most horticulture references, on the other hand, devote large sections to asexual propagation, also referred to as "propagation from plant parts." Why the difference?

To the scientist, asexual propagation is a minor topic. Though it is not unusual in the plant world, it is generally not the primary method of reproduction used by higher plants.

And asexual propagation involves simple mitotic cell division. Sexual reproduction, on the other hand, relies on the much more interesting meiotic cell division, as well as the subsequent production and union of gametes. Genetically, asexual propagation is rather ho-hum too. Offspring are genetically identical to the parent plant. Not much to study there!

Gardeners and horticulturists, however, know that asexual propagation is the best—and in some cases, only—way to propagate some of their favorite plants, making it a very interesting and relevant subject indeed! And many of the plants produced by the extensive breeding programs we talked about last week can only be propagated asexually.

We’ll take the middle ground and look at asexual propagation from the points of view of both the botanist and the gardener. We’ll look at the structures involved, as well as the importance of asexual propagation to plant populations in nature.

We’ll also survey some of the horticultural techniques used for propagating plants. (We won’t, however, get into detailed "how-to" instructions. We’ll save that for another class!)

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