Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Botany Information

Botany History

The Botany Section is much younger than the Division of Plant Industry (DPI). In the early 1960's, Dr. Kenneth R. Langdon, a DPI nematologist who had expert knowledge of native and cultivated plants, began to receive more and more questions concerning botany, and in 1963, he was put in charge of a new Office of Systematic Botany. In 1964, Dr. Langdon established the DPI Herbarium (internationally-recognized acronym: PIHG) to provide specimens for use in identifying and verifying plant samples.

Dr. Langdon retired in 1991 and Dr. Nancy C. Coile took his place. In 1993, the Office of Systematic Botany became the Botany Section within the new Bureau of Entomology, Nematology, and Plant Pathology. Dr. Coile retired in 2002 and was followed by Mr. Mark Garland. Dr. Richard Weaver took over the section in 2004 and retired himself in 2010. Today the Botany Section is headed by Dr. Patti Anderson.

Botany Activities

Plant identifications are the primary service provided by the Botany Section. The botanists identify or verify scientific names of plant specimens for the Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Nematology sections as well as plant samples that are sent to the Botany Section directly from DPI, other agencies, and the general public. To assist in these identifications, the botanists collect native and cultivated plants for the DPI Herbarium. With the increasing interest in Florida's many unique native plants and in the effects of invasive plants on Florida's agriculture and natural areas, over the years the activities of the Botany Section have expanded beyond our basic identification service.

Since 1993, DPI has regulated noxious weeds like tropical soda apple and cogon grass that impact Florida agriculture, and in 2004 the botany administrator became a member of the Noxious Weed and Invasive Plant Review Committee, which recommends additions to and deletions from Florida's list of noxious weeds and invasive plants. The Botany Section disseminates information useful for identifying the plants on the noxious weed and invasive plant list, including the noxious weed gallery. The botanists also review permits for transporting and growing noxious weeds in the state.

The botanists maintain webpages related to Florida's protected flora and assist the Endangered Plant Advisory Council (EPAC), which recommends additions to and deletions from Florida's lists of endangered, threatened, and commercially exploited plants. The botanists review permits for harvesting whole plants, or parts of plants, that are endangered or commercially exploited.

Finally, the botanists provide training in basic botany and in plant identification to nursery inspectors and others in DPI.