Home Legal Advice Forensic Botany and Its Applications

Forensic Botany and Its Applications



We are accustomed to vegetation getting used for nice and aesthetic functions resembling a supply for things to eat, fiber, medication, and so forth. But the affiliation of vegetation with instances resembling poisoning (which may be suicidal, unintended, or homicidal), or its use as a hint/switch proof in felony as well as civil instances is rising with every passing day. When vegetation change into linked to felony actions, that’s when Forensic Botany comes into play.

Forensic botany is the utilization of the plant sciences in issues associated with regulation, i.e., utilizing vegetation or plant merchandise as proof to assist remedy crimes resembling homicide, kidnapping, and so forth., and likewise to assist decide the sufferer’s explanation for dying. Forensic Botany is an integration of Botany and Forensics. The botanical side majorly consists of anatomy, progress, improvement, taxonomy, classification of vegetation that assist in the identification of the actual species of the plant, whereas the forensic side offers with the popularity of applicable proof on the crime scene, assortment, and packaging of proof, sustaining the chain of custody, conducting scientific checks on the samples collected and admissibility of the proof within the courtroom of regulation.

One of a very powerful explanation why vegetation are thought of excellent and helpful proof is that the cell wall of plant cells, as well as pollens and spores, are made from robust compounds resembling cellulose, sporopollenin, and pectin that are proof against destruction and thus may be recognized even after a protracted interval.

Forensic botany was first used to resolve a criminal offense in 1935. It was the Lindbergh Case through which a younger boy named Charles Lindbergh had been kidnapped. The prime suspect of this case was Bruno Hauptmann. Arthur Koehler, an skilled of wood anatomy was amongst the many individuals who testified. Even although the protection thought that the train of thought of the wood skilled was too weird and ridiculous, however the Judge thought in any other case. Arthur Koehler introduced proof associated with the ladder that was used within the kidnapping, stating that it was a do-it-yourself ladder and likewise acknowledged the various kinds of wood that had been used to construct the ladder. And one of many woods that was used to construct the ladder was proved to be the identical wood that was discovered at Hauptmann’s home, thus linking him on to the crime.

Since then forensic botany has gained numerous significance and has been used an increasing number of to resolve many such crimes.


The varied branches of forensic botany are utilized through the dedication of the identification of criminals. These branches assist in doing so by focussing on both the composition of vegetation or the affiliation of vegetation with the setting through which they’re current.

Forensic Plant Morphology: Plant morphology is the examine of the exterior options of the vegetation. The exterior options might support within the identification of the species of the plant. Thus, Forensic Plant Morphology refers back to the utility of this information within the investigation of crimes. Besides, these options or the exterior buildings help make a match between two leaf fragments, thus displaying the continuity of leaf patterns on the floor of the leaf.

Forensic Plant Anatomy: Plant Anatomy refers back to the examine of the inner construction of vegetation. Plant Anatomy helps within the identification as well as classification of the vegetation primarily based on particular patterns of association of the cells, that are noticed on dissecting the stem, root, or leaf. Forensic Plant Anatomy is the utilization of this information in fixing crimes.

Forensic Palynology: Palynology broadly offers with the examine of pollen grains, spores, and microscopic plant our bodies that possess a attribute function resistance to acidity. Palynology additional helps in proving or disproving a doable link between specific folks, objects, and locations (crime scenes) that acts as important info for the investigation of each civil as well as felony instances. One of the explanation why pollen, spores, and acid-resistant microscopic plant our bodies are thought of to be very dependable proof and might deduce whether or not there was a presence of a specific particular person or object is the truth that completely different nations and even completely different areas of a specific nation could have their distinctive number of pollen and spores.

Forensic Dendrochronology: Forensic Dendrochronology implies the scientific examine of estimating the expansion rings of the tree to calculate the precise yr through which these rings have been fashioned. In addition to appearing as proof, the estimation of the precise yr of formation of the expansion ring of the tree will act as a way of figuring out the interval through which the felony activity might have occurred. Also, it has been famous that completely different species of timber have a distinct sample of ring formation relying upon varied components such because the interval over which the ring formation takes place, weather conditions, quantity of water current within the soil through the ring formation, and so forth.

Forensic Limnology: Forensic Limnology is one other essential and essential department of forensic botany that includes the examination of the presence and sort of diatoms which are discovered on victims as well as proof samples which are collected from the scene of the crime. Diatoms are nothing however microscopic algae with a attribute function of getting silica of their cell wall. Diatoms may be differentiated primarily based on varied options resembling their measurement, form, or color. They are by no means present in home water because of the presence of cleansing brokers in them and thus are solely present in freshwater. Even although there are a selection of strategies for assortment of this knowledge however every certainly one of them includes the widespread process of evaluating the diatoms current on the suspected scene of the crime with that of the diatoms current within the proof pattern collected.

Forensic Plant Systematics: Plant Systematics is a department of Forensic Botany that features the method of classification of vegetation into completely different lessons and households primarily based on their completely different morphological and genetic traits. Thus, forensic plant systematic because the title suggests is the appliance of the data of plant classification in fixing crimes.

Forensic Ecology: Ecology is the time period that’s used to consult with the examine of the connection between completely different plant and animal species in a specific ecosystem. Thus, forensic ecology because the title suggests is the appliance of the data of this relationship between the plant and animal species in a habitat to research whether or not the suspect may very well be held responsible of the crime.


Commonly, the appliance of botanical data within the investigation process relies on two essential rules. The first precept is Locard’s alternate precept which states that any contact between two objects will end in an alternate of matter between them. Thus, it may be assumed that physical proof resembling botanical hint proof can be utilized to show a link between the scene of the crime, the sufferer, and the felony. For occasion, the pollen grains present in a suspect’s garments or some other belonging may be in comparison with the pollens discovered on the scene of the crime to ascertain a link between the scene of the crime and the suspect. The second precept is expounded to using forensic botany strategies in figuring out the distribution of plant species all over the world. This is especially helpful as completely different species of vegetation would require completely different environmental situations resembling soil situation, temperature, water availability, and so forth. and using this information would assist us to simply create a link between the crime scene, the sufferer, and the felony. For occasion, the presence of pollens on the corpse that aren’t discovered on the scene of crime has shown that the corpse has been moved from one place to a different. 

Forensic Palynology being essentially the most intensively developed department of forensic botany has a really vital utility in fixing crimes. Pollens and spores are thought of wonderful proof due to their excessive resistance to any excessive situations and since they’re very simply transferrable between objects pertaining to their small measurement. Pollens can adhere to any sort of floor and resulting from their completely different form and measurement may be simply recognized and categorized. Successful identification of species of pollens would finally assist in the dedication of the place of prevalence of the crime since no two locations could be having the identical pollen profile. Moreover, Forensic Palynology additionally helps within the dedication of the actual fact whether or not the corpse had been moved from one place to a different after dying. Palynology additionally helps in figuring out the authenticity of any specific doc by analyzing the time of technology of the doc with the assistance of pollens current on its floor.

Diatoms are one other helpful proof and what adds to their worth pretty much as good proof is their prevalence all year long, an enormous variety of diatoms at a spot, data of their environmental prevalence, and unbelievable resistance to excessive situations. Diatoms are primarily used to establish the trigger, time, and place of dying, particularly in instances of drowning. They assist in figuring out whether or not the dying occurred resulting from drowning or the corpse was positioned within the water physique after dying. It does so with the assistance of the precept that if dying has occurred resulting from drowning, there could be asphyxiation leading to speedy ingression of water via the respiratory tract after which via the pulmonary alveoli, thus there could be the presence of the diatoms in inside organs resembling bone marrow and mind. But if the physique has been positioned within the water after dying, the presence of diatoms could be seen solely within the respiratory tract and never in any of the inner organs. Knowledge in regards to the diatom assemblage and the comparability of the construction of assemblage of diatoms current on the suspected crime scene with that of the pattern proof helps in figuring out the precise scene of prevalence.

Forensic Dendrochronology is one other rising department of forensic botany that has nice utility within the dedication of time since dying. Estimation of the variety of progress rings within the stem of assorted timber helps in figuring out the time of skeletonization of the corpse. Another use of forensic dendrochronology is within the dedication of unlawful logging. The authorities of assorted nations has banned the logging of sure timber as well as sure forests. The areas of the forests or timber from which the logs are obtained are decided with the assistance of dendrochronology.

Forensic Ecology helps in figuring out any hid or buried corpse. Whenever a corpse is hid or buried in an ecosystem it causes structural adjustments within the vegetation of that space for a very long time which may be simply recognized. These adjustments assist in figuring out the positioning at which the corpse has been hid.

The accuracy of forensic identification of assorted species of vegetation is majorly depending on data of all of the above-mentioned branches of forensic botany. Physical proof, significantly Botanical proof shouldn’t be ignored or dealt with carelessly.  Even a microscopic spore might show to be important proof in linking the crime scene, sufferer, and felony which in flip helps in fixing the crime.



Forensic Botany is a brand new and rising discipline. It nonetheless wants numerous enhancements as even at present, many felony investigators, medical practitioners, and judges are unaware of its utility. This is because of the little subjection to the sector of botany.

The utility of the data of vegetation into authorized issues has grown continually because the 1930s and is now some of the essential branches of forensic science. But in lots of elements of the world, the testament of a forensic botanist remains to be not accepted. To enhance the acceptability of the testament of forensic botanists within the courtroom of regulation, the skilled wants to enhance his/her data and expertise and the authorities ought to take needed motion to extend the notice in regards to the significance of forensic botany amongst folks. As development within the discipline of forensics is rising, there’s the introduction of many new applied sciences within the department of forensic botany as well, resembling using DNA evaluation to establish the distinctive traits of a specific plant species. This is a brand new approach however as soon as well-developed may be utilized to show the innocence or guilt of the suspect unambiguously.



Coyle, Heather Miller, ed. Forensic botany: rules and purposes to felony casework. CRC Press, 2004.

Coyle, H. Miller, C. Lee, W. Lin, Henry C. Lee, and Timothy M. Palmbach. “Forensic botany: using plant evidence to aid in forensic death investigation.” Croatian Medical Journal 46, no. 4 (2005).

Aquila, Isabella, Francesco Ausania, Ciro Di Nunzio, Arianna Serra, Silvia Boca, Arnaldo Capelli, Paola Magni, and Pietrantonio Ricci. “The role of forensic botany in crime scene investigation: case report and review of literature.” Journal of Forensic Sciences 59, no. 3 (2014).

Bajerlein, Daria, Maria Wojterska, Łukasz Grewling, and Mikołaj Kokociński. “Forensic botany: current state of knowledge and possible applications in investigative practice.” Issues of Forensics Science 283 (2015).

Bandr Fakia “The branches of forensic botany”, International Journal of Development Research, 8 (2018).

” Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2020 https://www.encyclopedia.com


Do you want Swetha’s articles? Follow on social!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here