Forensic Botanist

Allie Lauzier period 3

Forensic botany

The scientific study of plants, or the application of plant sciences to criminal investigation.

A forensic botanist studies plant material as it relates to crime scenes. Specifically, forensic botanists use their skills to understand where and when a crime was committed and who committed the crime. Similar to DNA and fingerprinting, plant material is often unique to certain plant species and ecological areas, thereby allowing a forensic botanist to identify the ecological and molecular restraints of various plant species and narrow down the possibilities surrounding the who, where, and when of the crime.

Incorporates the following subdisciplines:

  • Palynology - study of pollen
  • Dendrochronology - study of tree rings
  • Limnology - study of aquatic environments
  • Systematics - classifiaction of plants
  • Ecology - study of environments

Education Requirements for a Forensic Botanist:

  • Environmental Appreciation
  • Plant form & function
  • Plant genetics
  • Plant physiology
  • Soils
  • Plant ecology
  • Plant geography
  • Plant evolution
  • Organic chemistry
  • Advanced field botany
  • College physics
  • Cell culture
  • Mycology: Study of fungi
  • Algology: study of seaweed & algae
  • Biology of the plant cell

Davie murder case; leaves led detectives to an arrest

This case is about a retiree who was killed & his body parts were scattered around south Florida. In this case, a botanist concluded the two plants outside of killer Jamie Saffran's house match up with leaves found with severed body parts of Saffran's friend, Warren Danzig.

Another case is the 1935 trial of the man charged with kidnapping and murdering Charles Lindbergh's baby in New Jersey. A botanist testified that the wood in the ladder used in the crime matched a piece of flooring cut from suspect Bruno Hauptmann's attic.

Forensic Science Field Techniques - Forensic Botany