(Including the Bolus Herbarium and the Plant Conservation Unit)
Head of Department: Professor J.J. Midgley
Botany is a vibrant department, which strives towards the development of a centre of excellence for research and teaching of the ecology, evolution, physiological ecology and systematics of marine and terrestrial plants of southern Africa. The department includes two research units, the Bolus Herbarium and the Plant Conservation Unit, and is also home to the Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism Chief Directorate: Marine & Coastal Management. Research thrusts include plant population, community and reproductive ecology, systematics, floristics, biogeography and evolutionary biology of the unique Cape Floral Kingdom and its response to different land use practices, ecology and economics of marine and freshwater algae, the ecophysiology of plant responses to pollution and global change, the physiology of plant nitrogen-fixing symbioses and dendrochronology and palaeoecology. The Plant Conservation Unit focuses on sustainable land use, restoration and palaeoecology/environmental history with an emphasis on the conservation of the vegetation of the winter rainfall region of South Africa, while the Bolus Herbarium is researching the taxonomy of and curating a specimen collection of over a third of a million southern African species. The staff is also active on Research Councils, policy-making forums and advisory committees.